Many gamblers dream of getting rich through casino games. They envision hitting a big jackpot or experiencing a hot run that earns them $1 million or more.
Of course, winning seven figures is much easier to do in your dreams. The casino holds an edge in every game, meaning they’re more likely to win in the long run.
Therefore, satisfying your casino fantasies all begins with choosing games that have good odds. And blackjack is definitely among the best when it comes to odds.
Some blackjack games only have a 0.5% house edge or less, depending upon the rules. While this still gives casinos an advantage, it also provides you with a better chance to win.
This game even features advantage play methods that allow you to gain the edge. When done right, you can make lots of money through these strategies.
But do advantage play techniques, or even blackjack’s low house edge allow you to win $1 million? Find out as I cover different ways that you can win big through this game.
1- Blackjack Progressive Jackpots
The most realistic way for the average blackjack player to win $1 million is by hitting a huge progressive jackpot.
Winning a blackjack jackpot involves playing a game that offers a progressive payout on the side. Side bets require between a $1 and $5 wager.
The rules for how you win the jackpot vary based on the exact variation you’re playing. But the general theme is that you need to combine certain card values and suits between your first two cards and the dealer’s up-card.
For example, you may need an ace, king, and queen of diamonds (a.k.a. royal flush) between the dealer’s upcard and your first two cards.
This is how one man hit a jackpot worth $1,044,822 at Caesars Windsor casino in October 2018.
The man, whose first name is Peter, made a $5 side bet and got a diamond blackjack royal flush. This specific hand delivered 100% of the progressive jackpot to Peter.
This brings me to another point in that blackjack progressive jackpots can deliver varying amounts of the prize based on your hand.
For example, you may win 10% of a jackpot if you get a royal flush in another suit. But you have to get a royal in a specific suit to earn 100% of the prize.
The advantage to playing for progressive blackjack prizes is that you don’t need any skill to win. Instead, you simply make the require side bet and hope that luck favors you.
The downside is that your odds of winning a big jackpot are very slim. Progressive prizes are essentially the slot machines of table games.
I’m not saying that you should completely avoid blackjack progressive jackpots—especially when there’s a seven-figure prize on the line. But don’t expect to win any time soon.
2- Card Counting
Card counting is perhaps the most famous advantage play method in all of casino gambling. This technique has been featured in plenty of movies, including 21, Holly Rollers, Rain Man, and The Hangover.
These films make it seem like anybody who knows how to count cards can make a killing. But the truth is that most card counters only earn above the average salary.
That said, you need to grind for years in order to make $1 million through card counting. But if you have patience and are willing to learn the craft, then you can make a nice living until you hit a lofty goal.
The first thing you need to consider before counting cards is your bankroll size. The more money you start with, the less chance that you’ll lose your funds and have to start over.
Ideally, you’ll begin with at least a $25,000 bankroll as a solo counter. Blackjack card counting teams should have closer to $50,000 in order to be saved.
But some people have experienced success when starting out with $10,000 or less.
The next step is to actually learn how to count cards. You can use a variety of systems to keep an accurate count.
But the Hi-Lo is one of the best card counting strategies in terms of both accuracy and ease of use. Here’s a quick overview of how the Hi-Lo strategy works:
- You assign a point value to cards.
- 2-6 = +1
- 7-9 = neutral
- 10-A = -1
- You add up the point values by watching every card that’s dealt.
- You continue counting until the shoe is reshuffled.
- You bet more with a positive count, because you’re more likely to get a blackjack thanks to extra aces and 10s.
Next, you want to know when the count is favorable enough to increase your bets. The “true count” and number of decks (in multi-shoe games) are the two factors that help you make these decisions.
The “running count” is your total count without considering how many decks are remaining. The true count does factor in the number of decks.
Here’s an example of coming up with a true count:
- Your running count is +8.
- There are 2 decks remaining.
- 8/2 = +4 true count
The difficulty here is estimating exactly how many decks are remaining before calculating your true count. After all, casinos don’t give you any indication on how many decks are left in the shoe.
You instead need to visually monitor the shoe and make an educated guess. You’ll become better at figuring this out the longer you play and continue counting cards.
It’s also important to consider deck penetration or the percentage of decks that are dealt before the dealer reshuffles. The more deck penetration there is, the more confident you can be in a favorable true count.
It’s best to look for games where the casino allows at least 70% deck penetration before reshuffling the shoe. But you can still be successful if you have at least 65% penetration in a 6-deck shoe.
The final step of using the Hi-Lo is knowing how much to increase your bet by based on the true count. This is referred to as bet spreading, which measures the distance between the table’s minimum bet and your highest wager during a favorable count.
If you bet $75 on a $5 blackjack table, for example, you’re spread is 1-15. The 15 amount comes from multiplying 75 by 5.
Now that I’ve covered the basics, here’s an example on how you can calculate optimal bets:
- Determine a unit size (e.g. $25).
- Figure out your true count (e.g. +4).
- Subtract 1 from the true count (4 – 1 = 3).
- Multiply this number by your unit size (25 x 3 = 75).
- Your bet should be 3 units, or $75 (i.e. 1-15 spread on a $5 table).
The great thing about card counting is that it’s a completely legitimate technique that’s been tested and proven over time. As long as you have strong card counting skills, you can make guaranteed profits.
The downside is that you’ll only gain between a 0.5%and 1.5% edge over the house when counting. This means that you’ll experience plenty of volatile swings, making it hard to predict when you’ll profit.
Another drawback is that counting cards is a grind. Therefore, it may take you 10 years or longer to accumulate $1 million in card counting profits.
Also, note that casinos have gotten very good at catching counters based on their bet spread. You need to avoid having crazy bet spreads (e.g. 1-30) and find lenient casinos in order to avoid getting kicked out.
3- Hole Carding
Blackjack dealers in American casinos deal themselves one face-up (upcard) and one face-down card (hole card).
These dealers also peak at their hole card whenever their upcard is an ace or 10 value. They do this to check for a natural blackjack, which would automatically end the round.
You’re not supposed to see the dealer’s hole card when they peek. Therefore, you’re making decisions based on incomplete information.
But what if you could see the dealer’s hole card? This is the idea behind hole carding, where you try to get a glimpse of the dealer’s face-down card.
The exciting thing about hole carding is that it can offer you up to a 13% advantage. This crushes the 0.5% to 1.5% edge that card counting offers.
Another good thing about hole carding is that it’s easy in theory. All you’re trying to do is see the dealer’s hole card value.
The difficult part, though, is finding a dealer who consistently reveals their face-down card’s value. These dealers, who are referred to as the “flashers,” are usually new, poorly trained, or just don’t care about their jobs.
Once you find a flasher, you want to sit at either first base (first seat to dealer’s left) or second base (first seat to dealer’s right). These are the only seats that give you a realistic chance to see the dealer’s hole card when peeking.
The seat should depend upon whether the dealer is right or left-handed. First base offers you an easier chance to see a right-handed dealer’s hole card, while third base gives you the best chance to see a left-handed dealer’s card.
You also want to sit at a natural angle that still allows you to be more level to the table felt. In contrast, slouching or leaning makes it more obvious that you’re trying to see the dealer’s hole card.
Some advantage players also try to avoid making any play that’s obviously bad from a strategy perspective (e.g. doubling down on 7 against a dealer’s 10). Such plays make it easier for casinos to tell what’s going on and determine that one of their dealers is a flasher.
The last thing you want is to lose a vulnerable dealer because they’re difficult to find. I’ve seen estimates that suggest only one out of every 200 dealers is a flasher.
The best place to practice hole carding is in Las Vegas, considering how difficult it is to find these dealers. Sin City gives you access to over 100 casinos and three different shifts per venue, giving you plenty of opportunities to find the right dealers.
Considering the huge advantage that hole carding can offer, this is one of the best ways to earn $1 million through blackjack. Therefore, you can theoretically collect seven figures with this technique in just a few years.
The problem, though, is that you’ll spend far more time searching for flashers than actually playing the game and making big profits.
4- Shuffle Tracking
Vegas casinos used to be full of single-deck blackjack tables with good rules, which are perfect for card counting. But they began switching to multi-deck shoes in the 1970safter seeing how many card counters were beating them.
Shuffle-tracking, which refers to tracking specific cards during shuffles, was born during this era. This advantage play technique refers to monitoring and guessing where 10-value cards (high cards) will be in the ensuing round.
Just like card counting, the goal of shuffle tracking is to bet more when the shoe has more high cards. This strategy is much more effective than counting, though, when used correctly.
The premise behind shuffle tracking is that shuffles aren’t as random as they appear. Dealers— in a hurry to keep games moving so the casino profits more— don’t shuffle shoes perfectly.
Many blackjack dealers use a “zero shuffle,” where cards are separated into piles. The shuffling is done between the piles (i.e. the dealer grabs each pile and riffles them).
Your mission is to track different 10-value cards from the discard tray to the shuffle. Being able to guess which pile the king of hearts is in, for example, allows you to make larger bets in anticipation of getting a natural blackjack.
Card counting comes into the equation when trying to figure out what card values remain based on your count. When you add shuffle tracking to a positive count, you can more precisely guess when certain high cards will be dealt.
The main problem with shuffle tracking is that it’s harder to execute than counting. You have to be great at watching the cards as they’re shuffled and know card counting on top of this.
It’s already challenging to count cards and keep up with the speed of the dealer/game. It’s only more difficult when you’re also visually tracking cards.
Expert shuffle trackers spend countless hours developing their craft. They need to be expert cards counters, then take things further by also being great at tracking high cards.
The payoff is great, though, because great shuffle trackers can gain anywhere from a 10% to 50% advantage.
The latter range makes this strategy even better than hole carding in terms of trying to win $1 million. Assuming you become an amazing shuffle tracker, you could make $1 million in as little as 2-3 years.
5- Ace Sequencing
Ace sequencing is a card tracking technique that begins with memorizing what cards are on top of the ace in the discard pile.
You place bigger bets when you see these cards come out in anticipation of an ace being dealt soon. This is another strategy where you’re looking to bet more in hopes of getting a natural blackjack, or at least aces that give you an edge in regular hands.
The biggest skill to ace tracking is being able to remember card sequences in each shoe. Top players can remember a large number of card sequences.
Here’s a synopsis on how you can use this strategy to win big:
- Watch discards so that you can guess where card clumps surrounding an ace will appear after a shuffle.
- Watch where aces go into the discard tray.
- Remember 2-3 cards that are placed on top of the ace (a.k.a. “key cards”) in the discard tray.
- Increase your bet size when you see key cards come out in the next round.
The biggest downside to ace sequencing is that it’s perhaps the hardest advantage play technique to learn. It doesn’t help matters that this is one of the least-discussed blackjack strategies.
However, knowing when an ace will be dealt gives you up to a 50% edge over the casino. Therefore, ace sequencing can be just as good as shuffle tracking when trying to win $1 million.
6- Playing High Stakes with Great Rules
One more way to win seven figures through blackjack is playing for high stakes with great rules involved.
High stakes allow you to quickly profit on a hot streak. Getting the best rules in your favor lowers the house edge even further and boosts your chances of winning.
Casinos, of course, want to maintain their edge in any situation, because this is how they make their money. But they’re willing to negotiate more with high rollers.
Don Johnson is the ultimate example of a high roller using his leverage to whittle down the house edge. During the early 2010s, Johnson negotiated for such favorable rules that he actually gained a long-term edge over casinos.
A 20% loss rebate and free bets after dealer mistakes were key elements that helped Johnson overcome the house advantage.
He was so good at these negotiations and mathematics that casinos didn’t know what hit them. Johnson won a combined $15 million from several casinos before the industry caught on.
No other high roller has ever pulled off what Johnson did. Therefore, I don’t expect any whale to negotiate for such great rules that they actually have the edge.
However, you can at least drop the blackjack house edge below 0.3% if you bet big enough and work out a favorable deal. This puts you on a near-even footing with the casino, meaning you only need a little luck to win big.
Winning $1 million through blackjack is certainly no easy feat. In fact, it’s essentially impossible if you’re playing low stakes and relying on basic strategy.
But certain techniques and formats do give you an opportunity to win seven figures through this game.
Progressive jackpots are the most practical way to win big in blackjack. I say “practical” lightly because your odds are very low of winning a jackpot.
But the good thing about blackjack jackpots is that they’re easy to play for. You merely make your side bet and hope that you get the right card combination.
High rollers also have an easier path to $1 million. They can combine an extremely low house edge with big bets to earn large profits.
The drawback to high roller play is that you’re still at a long-term disadvantage. But the upside is that you can realistically win a fortune on a hot streak.
Card counting is the easiest way to make guaranteed profits in blackjack. But counting also takes the longest of any advantage play technique with regard to making a million.
Ace sequencing, hole carding, and shuffle tracking all give you a far greater edge than card counting. But each of these advantage techniques is much more difficult to master.
In the end, there’s no easy way to earn a $1 million blackjack profit. But the nice thing is that you at least have different options if you’re serious about this goal.