The fact that a game is beatable does not imply that someone can get rich at it. If you look at blackjack as an investment opportunity you have three factors to consider – Knowledge and skill, Bankroll, and Risk. All of these factors must be considered before you place your first bet. The bottom line is that a highly skilled player with a small bankroll (e.g., $1000) can only hope to make a few dollars per hour playing this game or run the risk of financial ruin.
I enjoy playing this game recreationally and beating the casinos when I do play. But beating the casinos does not mean taking them for everything they’ve got. There are practical limits to how much an individual card counter can win at this game. Each player will have different optimal betting guidelines based on his or her bankroll. Today, accomplished card counters are making anywhere from a few dollars an hour to several hundred dollars an hour playing this game. That is far from winning a million dollars but if you play long enough and can get away with it long enough anything is possible.
Card counting for long hours at a time is not very much fun! If you do it for a living it can become very much a grind. To be perfectly honest, I can make more money, have greater financial security, and enjoy my life better by limiting my blackjack play to weekends and vacations, writing about my exploits, and publishing information about the game I love.
If I had a large bankroll (i.e., greater than $100,000), I know that I could probably earn a living by playing blackjack, but I would be giving up a lot by doing so. My quality of life would definitely not be better. I wouldn’t have a retirement plan and I would have to pay for my own health insurance. Expenses would be high because I would have to travel a lot to keep the casinos guessing. And eventually, I would get my name in the book — and I would have new problems to consider. Life as a professional card-counter is anything but glamorous.
Recreational card counters, on the other hand, don’t generally have these problems. Indeed, recreational card counters have the best of it because the casinos don’t see them as often. If you are a half decent player, barrings should be infrequent, although you will probably receive some heat at times. Recreational players generally enjoy their time in the casino because it is a break from a regular job or profession.
“There are practical limits to how much an individual card counter can win at this game.”
As I have stated many times before in Blackjack Review Magazine, knowledge about the game and the skill to implement a valid counting system go hand in hand. Both take time to master. But even after you have mastered the game the rewards are dependent on the number of hours you are willing to put in playing, the bankroll at your disposal, the amount of risk you are willing to take, and any unique opportunities that may come your way.
Your bankroll is what determines your theoretical win-rate. It is also your bankroll that determines how much you can safely bet without chancing going bust. Severe losing sessions will occur whether you have an advantage or not! As a player, I am content on winning enough (in the long run) to help pay for my major trip expenses and to add a few more dollars to my bankroll every trip.