Blackjack – The Profit Formula

Average Bet x Advantage x Hands Per Hour = Hourly Profit

The formula is simple, yet it provides a good approximation of what a card counter might expect to win per hour in the long run. Say that you are making average bets of $10 with a 1% advantage over the house from card counting. You estimate you’re playing about 80 hands per hour. To calculate your expected hourly win:

$10x.01 x80 = $8 per hour

(Note that your 1% advantage is expressed decimally as .01, for use in the formula. A 2% advantage would be .02, etc. How about 2 1/2%? That would be .025, while 1 3/4% would be .0175. You might find it helpful to follow this math with a pocket calculator, and you must familiarize yourself with expressing percentages as decimals if you are at all serious about making money from gambling, as most books on gambling use this notation.)

Let’s also say that you want to increase your expectation above $8 per hour. That’s simple enough to do, keeping the Profit Formula in mind. Simply raise the value of one or more of the three vital factors in the formula.

Start with the first: average bet. Obviously, if you made an average bet of $25, assuming the same 1% advantage over the house, and the same 80 hands per hour, your expectation would immediately rise to $20 per hour:

$25 x .01 x 80 = $20 per hour

It’s a simple solution, but it’s problematic if you have a limited bankroll, as increasing your bet size leads to greater fluctuation. Although your long-run win rate may rise to $20 per hour, you may never see the long run. Do you have a big enough bankroll to increase your average bet size to this level? Don’t guess! Instead, keep reading…

The next variable in the Profit Formula is advantage. It’s simple enough to see how to raise your expectation to $20 per hour by altering this factor; just raise your advantage to 2 1/2%. Thus:

$10 x .025 x 80 = $20 per hour

This is the tactic most card counters employ—they start using an “advanced,” higher-level, system, and keep side counts of aces, and sometimes fives or sevens, and memorize more extensive strategy tables.

Unfortunately, this tactic does not pay as well as most counters would like. Even the most advanced counting system will rarely raise your advantage by more than 1/4% to 1/2% over your advantage with a simpler system, and that’s only if you can deploy the more complicated system without errors.