Bad Strategy: The D’Alembert System

In my blog, aside from giving advice of what you should do when playing blackjack, I like to also tell you what not to do. When it comes to bad blackjack strategy, the most popular culprits are betting systems. There are countless betting systems out there designed to defeat the house edge, but the simple truth is that none of them work.

One such system is the D’Alembert system, which is a cancellation system that is sometimes also called an Alembert system. Whatever you call it, using this betting system will have a disastrous affect on your bankroll in the long run. At its simplest, with the D’Alembert System you increase your bet when you lose and decrease it when you win. Unlike the Paroli and Martingale systems, there is no base bet. Your bet will always increase or decrease depending on whether you win or lose. Needless to say, if you get into a losing streak your bankroll will deteriorate quickly.

The D’Alembert system is usually applied to games of chance such as roulette and craps, though in their fervor to find a strategy more beneficial than basic strategy, many people have tried using it for blackjack. I’m not a mathematician, but the man who goes by the Wizard of Odds is. He is the recognized expert in gambling percentages, odds and strategies, and he has concluded, through a computer simulation of a million hands of play, that the D’Alembert system will cause you to lose money faster than with flat betting.

Without going into the complex mathematics of it, let me make it very simple. The D’Alembert system is a type of cancellation system. A cancellation system counts on there being two sides of outcomes, positive or negative (winning and losing) and an equal probability of each. Therefore, by betting more when you lose and less when you win, you cancel out your losses and make up for the lost money. The major flaw of this system is that there isn’t an equal probability of the two outcomes.

Blackjack has a house edge and what that means is that you will lose more often than you win. Not only that, but basic strategy may reduce the house edge to a slight 0.5%, but that percentage is over the long run. In the short term, you can get into a losing streak and lose much more than 0.5%. If you are flat betting in a losing streak, you will lose a lot of money, but if you are increasing your bet with each loss, you will lose money much faster. The thinking is that if you keep increasing the bet, you will make up for the losses when you win, but that can’t happen if you run out of money first. And that, to be honest, is the outcome with the highest odds when you employ the D’Alembert system.

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