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Money Management Sucks. But You Win by Kevin Hogan

Kevin Hogan 

I hate money management which is why we’re looking at this today. Specifically, we aren’t talking about annual money management (what percentage you can play today out of a total number of dollars you have to play all year) but money management for today. I’ll skip the industry jargon here.

I’ll also skip most of the math if you promise to research that yourself. I’ve never played craps or any of the insanely idiotic ways to lose a fortune online. I bet sports, poker, and blackjack. Nothing else. If you do the same, you will have fun and know that in the long run, you absolutely can win. I repeat you can win at poker, blackjack, and sports and…that’s pretty much it.

General principles apply to all gaming, investments, and life, but today, blackjack. I’ve played between a half of a million and a million hands of blackjack.

Online you can play 200 hands per hour, easily. At $100 per hand that’s $20,000 per hour. If you play with a casino edge of .4%, that means you lose $80 per hour. Do NOT play more than 200 hands per hour if you are playing a negative count. (Considering you can get away from the computer, why would you play a negative count?)

Obvious Point One

Only play games with an expectation less than .4% house edge. There are a few games out there that have a .1% positive expectation in your favor, but those games are not common.

Your game is at minimum 3/2 blackjack, Stand on Soft 17 and a Two Deck Game, or Four Deck with Stand on Soft 17 with surrender and other splitting perks. Side bets are … for people that live in homeless shelters.

That means you need to write yourself a sticky note and put it on the computer, “You are an idiot if you don’t get up if you are $2,500 up OR down.”


Key Point

As soon as 25% of your stake is won or lost, you get up and go fix something downstairs or go to the store. If you’re playing 50 – 300 dollars per hand (as is appropriate with this stake) then you should be able to play quite a while. Losing 25 net hands of blackjack is plenty of punishment for an evening.

Winning? Same answer with a different emoticon.

Your stake divided by 100 is your average bet. ( When the deck is at zero you are betting $100) If the deck is significantly negative, you are betting $50. If significantly positive, $200 – $300. And here’s the deal… you cap your play at 3% per hand, and that assumes you have a +10. This is like going to church. You don’t break this rule. People ask me if I have fun playing. “I do when I count my money and go to the cashier, yes.” You can go back and play after you go grocery shopping, but ONLY after you go grocery shopping. Take time away. Gaming has a rhythm to it, and it is mesmerizing.

Set your desired outcome at the beginning. I suggest 50% of what you sit down with. There is a very good chance you can pull this off with good counting and a brilliant play. And please play the count and not a basic strategy.

If someone tells you otherwise, they are idiots. Bet the count +10 at $200 and feel good about it realizing that there are substantially more big cards coming for you. Then when you get to 16 vs. 10, you stand. Same for 15 vs. 10. Same for 14 vs. 10. Learn to play the count and don’t count aces in your count unless you’re using a halves count. I count tens vs. 3 – 6. I remember a 2 is not a “low card” like a 5. A 2 it is a good card for the casino. Your 12 doesn’t beat his 2 upcards. You’ll need to hit that except when the count is positive. Play the count correctly. I keep a side count of aces. Paper and pen are next to the computer. Don’t make any mistakes and keep a COUNT chart near you the entire time you play. You should never make a mistake as mistakes cost you money.

If you get a gut feeling about a hand…see a doctor in the morning.

There is no gut feeling. Either you hit or stand based on the count. Remember the fun is in beating the casino AND cashing out at the end of the day. For today…


  1. Play blackjack only where the casino has an edge of .4% or less. There is never a reason to do otherwise.
  2. Whatever your stake is for today you write it down, post it to your computer then STOP playing when you have WON or LOST 25% of that stake. Leave the house or the room and do something else. Want to play in two hours? Go for it. You’ll have fun. You are now in control of your brain. The casino is not.
  3. If you want to have fun to teach someone how to count.
  4. You need 100 units to play with today. For everyone, that means your average bet is 1% of bankroll. The average is NOT minimum. 3% of bankroll is the maximum you will bet. You will never get your backside handed to you at 3%. Even losing a split and then double is 12%. You can come back from that.
  5. Want to have more fun? Record your games and share those amazing moments with friends. But only share if you are profitable for the MONTH. If you're down 200 units for the month, you have gotten beaten and obviously, need to get away from the game.
  6. Increase your fun by playing the COUNT and NOT a basic strategy. You can't win (long-term) with basic strategy. It is simply not possible.
  7. Keep your chart for playing the count near you. Abide religiously, and you will win in the long run if you have fun with the other six points above.


Finally, you aren’t in a race. It’s ok to keep count on paper. You’re smarter if you do and then you ALWAYS make the right play until it becomes second nature. Smart players are the ones smiling at the cashier’s cage at the end session.


by Kevin Hogan

Kevin Hogan is the author of 24 books! He is best known for his international best selling book, The Psychology of Persuasion: How to Persuade Others to Your Way of Thinking.