How Common Are Losing Streaks in Blackjack?

I've played thousands of blackjack hands. I love being in action, and I especially enjoy trying new and different variations. Besides being lucky at the tables, I've also suffered some great losses with losing streaks.

You can't avoid these losing streaks. They're bound to happen. Streaks are common in blackjack—in fact, they're common in all gambling games. If you play long enough, you'll have winning streaks and losing streaks. Your best bet is to stick with basic strategy, regardless of your short term results.

When a streak does occur, there is no way to tell how long it will last. Casino games are designed to have a house advantage, and over time, what is won will often be lost.

Casinos also rely on human greed. If I win multiple hands in a row, it's only natural to want to win more. When this happens, the bet amounts are often increased. If the luck turns at the table, losing streaks can come about, costing much more than was ever won with the game.

Controlling Losing Streaks

Blackjack is game of skill, but it also has some luck involved. In fact, the random nature of a card game ensures that you can't control when you win or when you lose.

If you're making the mistake of raising your bets based on a perceived streak, you could get into big trouble. Card counters raise their bets based on the ratio of high cards to low cards in the deck. But they never try to identify a streak of luck.

Raising your bets to recoup your losses are also a mistake. You should only raise and lower your bets if you're counting cards and the deck is in the players' favour.

If you're just a basic strategy player, some money management techniques might help you avoid going broke too fast.

When Losing Streaks Happen

Really, the only thing you can do during a losing streak is to play through it. Eventually—over a long enough period of time—your results should eventually conform to the odds. And since blackjack usually offers the best odds in the house, you'll probably do all right in the long run. This assumes you have a big enough bankroll, though.

The long run is longer than most people think, though. We're not talking about hundreds of hands. We're talking tens of thousands of hands. So patience is important. Don't chase your losses. You could have just as easily come out the winner during that last streak of luck.

One technique you should avoid during a losing streak is the Martingale System. It's more commonly used at the roulette tables, but I've seen people try it at the blackjack table. It's not a hedge against a losing streak.

Here's how it works:

After every loss, you double the size of your previous bet. This automatically allows you to win back everything you've lost plus one unit.

For example, you bet $5 on a hand, and you lose. Then you bet $10 on the next hand, and you lose again. Now you're down $15. You bet $20 on the next hand, and you win. You've recouped your $15 in losses and you have a $5 profit to show for it.

The problem with the Martingale System is that it doesn't work. You'll eventually hit a losing streak long enough that you won't be able to cover the next bet. You just won't have enough bankroll to pull it off. Or you'll hit the table limits.

Most $5 blackjack tables have a $500 max bet. That can happen faster than you think in a Martingale progression: $5, $10, $20, $40, $80, $160, $320, $640.

As you can see, you only need to lose 7 hands in a row to get to a point where the next bet is higher than the table limit.

And even if you didn't hit the table limit, you'd be risking $640 on that final bet in order to generate a net profit of $5. Not a good bet, in my book.

The Martingale System is good for guaranteeing lots of small wins along with a handful of catastrophic losses. Over time, this system does nothing to eliminate the house edge.

If you're not counting cards, your best bet at the blackjack table is to flat bet—make the same size bet every hand. Forget about hunches. And definitely forget about trying to get an edge by taking advantage of a winning streak.

Controlling your emotions is important, too. In poker, a player who starts raising his bets because he's upset is said to be "on tilt". This phenomenon is common among blackjack players, too. You want to watch out for your tendency to tilt. You're better off just walking away from the table altogether and finding some other kind of entertainment to participate in.

One money management technique that some players use effectively is called a "loss limit" or a "stop limit". This is an amount you've decided you're willing to lose during a gambling session. Once you'e lost that amount, you call it quits for that session—or even that day or that trip.

How to Handle Losing Streaks

They're inevitable. They will always happen, regardless of experience and strategy use. The key to success is knowing how to handle these streaks. The first thing that should be done is to reduce the bet to the minimum allowed at the table. This will extend the budget so that more hands can be played, which will hopefully be enough to turn luck around.

In my experience, a streak of five losing hands is enough cause for a break. Taking a break from the game will allow you to collect your houghts and get back on track. It may also allow for time for the table to get warm again. Walking away from a game should bring no shame. The goal is to make a profit when betting, so if there is a losing streak, do not be afraid to take a break to preserve the remaining bankroll.

The Importance of Basic Strategy

When basic blackjack strategy is used when playing any variation of the game, there are fewer chances of suffering losses. When the strategy is altered or ignored, more losses will come about. The key to ending losing streaks or avoiding them is to always adhere to the basic blackjack strategy. When playing online, refer to strategy charts. When playing at a land casino, take breaks to regroup and refer to the charts if needed.

By using basic strategy, I am able to have the lowest house edge possible, which will limit the number of losses at the table. Even though there is no way to control the cards or the losing streaks that may happen, the golden rule is to stick to the strategy. Always play hands in the same manner and avoid progressive betting systems.

BBy keeping these two things in mind, less money will be lost during losing streaks and soon enough, things will start getting better. Losing streaks are just as common as winning streaks, so take advantage of the situation when possible and always practice proper bankroll management and use basic strategies for the most success.


Losing streaks are inevitable in any game of chance, but in blackjack, you can reduce their effects by sticking to basic strategy and not going on tilt. Having a stop loss limit is a money management technique that might also help you avoid large losses. Unless you're counting cards, raising your bets has no effect other than to increase the volatility of the game.