The Kelly Criterion Strategy & System

Tips & Tricks for Blackjack


While some Blackjack betting systems are extremely basic and simple like the Paroli betting system, others are far more complex and are based on intricate card counting methods and advanced probability theory. This is the case with the Kelly Criterion, considered by many experts in Blackjack betting systems to be the most complex and sophisticated betting system available. The system was invented by J.L Kelly in the mid-nineteen fifties and it requires serious dedication over many hours for the system to show its full benefits. This is one of the reasons why most would consider this a betting system designed for professional Blackjack players and not for casual once in weekend type players. The Kelly Criterion is a system that can be quite difficult to master but has proven itself superior to almost any other system out there.

Key facts about the Kelly Criterion System

  • Advanced betting system based on mathematical probability theory
  • Best suited to professional or highly dedicated Blackjack players
  • Requires a solid knowledge and experience in card counting techniques
  • Consistently outperforms other types of betting methods and systems
  • Can be applied to various games including Blackjack

 The basics of the Kelly Criterion

The Kelly Criterion strategy is not a simple method designed for beginners to jump right into a Blackjack game and start making tons of cash. This is a complicated and serious system specifically designed for serious players and professional Blackjack players. The system requires a more in-depth and advanced knowledge of both the game of Blackjack as well as various Blackjack betting systems.

Other strategies you might want to check out:

  • Trend Strategy
  • Trend Betting Strategy
  • Paroli Strategy
  • Parlay Strategy
  • Martingale Strategy
  • Labouchere Strategy
  • Follow the Leader Strategy
  • Dozen Grid Strategy
  • D’Alembert Strategy

The Kelly Criterion requires dedication since the system can only begin to show positive results over a long period of play, with many hours spent at the Blackjack table and many hands played through. It also helps those players develop a thorough understanding of various card counting strategies before attempting to study the Kelly Criterion and begin implementing it. Essentially the Kelly Criterion is a formula that is not classified as a progression system in the same way as other Blackjack betting systems would be. The mathematical formula applied is used to determine the correct bet size based on a particular Blackjack hand as well as the percentage of players’ bankroll that can safely be risked in the wager.

Kelly Criterion how it works in Blackjack

 The Kelly Criterion

Explained by example

The first thing that needs to be understood about the Kelly Criterion is that one of its core principles rests on the player holding an edge over the house. The only real way that a player can ever really hold an edge over the house is through card counting. In other words, you cannot employ the Kelly Criterion without advantage over the house. The essential goal of the Kelly Criterion is to determine the exact bet size needed on each and every bet in Blackjack. In order to do this, the player must be counting cards to know where he is on the deck and must have a rough idea of his advantage percentage over the house. A common theory regarding the principles of card counting combined with basic Blackjack strategy will give the player an advantage over the house of around 1.5%. The advantage over the house will also fluctuate depending on the strength (richness) of the deck. In a practical application, the player will place a wager that is a percentage of their entire bankroll which in turn is based on the percentage advantage over the house that the player currently enjoys. So in this very basic example:

  • Player edge over the house in percentage = 1%
  • The player then can determine that their bankroll bet percentage would = 20%
  • Of a 500 bankroll, the player can bet 100

This is just a very basic example of how the Kelly Criterion could be used in a real game of Blackjack. In truth, the Kelly Criterion is very complicated and is accompanied by mathematical formulas that determine percentages in greater detail. This video will help to illustrate the Kelly Criterion system in more detail:


  • The Kelly Criterion is based on complex mathematical formulas
  • The system is designed for long term play and can be thought of as an investment strategy
  • The Kelly Criterion strategy can be used to determine the ideal percentage of your bankroll that should be wagered in a given situation
  • This is based on a solid knowledge of card counting techniques and an understanding of the relationship with the house edge

 Advantages and disadvantages of the Kelly Criterion system

There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to using the Kelly Criterion strategy in real Blackjack games. The system is considered to be the most advanced and sophisticated of all systems and outstrips them all in actual practical performance. The system can be used to create very safe and predictable betting decisions designed to protect your bankroll and provide you with greater win percentages. One the other side of the coin however there are some negatives to the system that must be considered. The first and most obvious of these is that the Kelly Criterion is not a simple and easy system to master. Unlike other blackjack systems and strategies like doubling down on a bet, where the system can be learnt in minutes and employed immediately, the Kelly Criterion requires serious study and understanding of a number of principles employed in advanced blackjack. Another clear disadvantage to the system is that it also takes a long time once deployed in a Blackjack game. Serious users of the Kelly Criterion are required to spend a great deal of time playing many hands over many hours to build up their bankroll slowly. Some compare the system to an investment strategy where a series of small investments begin to build up the investor’s portfolio.

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 Chances and risks

Tips & Tricks for Blackjack

In terms of risk, the Kelly Criterion presents one of the lowest risks of all Blackjack betting strategies. This is because the system uses very sound mathematical principles over a prolonged period of time. The system considers each bet individually and, unlike progression betting systems, does not rely on whether you won or lost your last hand. Let’s look at the risk and chance factors of the Kelly Criterion in three points:

Who is suitable for this strategy?

The Kelly Criterion is definitely not a suitable Blackjack betting strategy for novice or casual Blackjack players. The system may even be too advanced for some intermediate Blackjack players. The system is designed for serious and professional Blackjack players who understand all the intricacies of advanced Blackjack strategy. This includes level 3 card counting strategies and an ability to calculate the player’s advantage percentage over the house. Without these two critical factors the system simply cannot work. Even understanding advanced card counting and determining a player’s advantage percentage over the house takes considerable experience, before one has even begun to contemplate the advanced mathematical formulas associated with the Kelly Criterion.

  • 19% Beginner
  • 53% Advanced
  • 89% Pro

Kelly Criterion Risks

Kelly Criterion Blackjack risks

How high is the risk?

The risk of using the Kelly Criterion is quite low if the system is understood and used correctly. However, players that attempt to use the system without fully understanding the complex mathematical formulas involved in the decision-making the process run a very high risk of failure. Advanced and professional Blackjack players that have taken the time to understand every aspect involved in the Kelly Criterion will not run risks in the same way as one would using a progression betting system. This is because the Kelly Criterion does not rely on the previous winning or losing bets but rather treats every hand as an individual scenario.

Are winnings guaranteed?

The short answer is yes. If the system is used correctly and all mathematical formulas and other criteria such as card counting techniques and knowing the advantage percentage over the house for each hand, then winnings can be guaranteed. The Kelly Criterion should be seen as an investment strategy with the ultimate goal of increasing a players bankroll in steady increments. Each successful hand adds to the bankroll. This is a long term game strategy and not a one hand jackpot win.


Is the Kelly Criterion strategy worth it?

The Kelly Criterion blackjack betting strategy is most certainly worth it, provide you are determined to put in the hours of study that the system requires of you. Once the mathematical formulas are understood and mastered and once a card counting strategy is put in place, the system will work very well and is superior to almost any other system out there. To get started simply follow our handy tips and tricks.


  • With a correct card counting strategy and a good understanding of the mathematical formulas the strategy works perfect
  • The strategy combine different elements of other strategies
  • The system is only working in the long run


  • If you are new to online Blackjack betting strategies start with a more basic betting system to get to know how they work
  • Do an online casino comparison to find a few blackjack games that allow you to play in practice mode – this will give you time to experiment with the strategy
  • Once you are feeling confident and want to play some real money Blackjack games, find a good casino by doing an online casino bonus comparison, the added bonus will help you set up a starting bankroll to work your new system with.