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The Kelly Criterion is a mathematical formula designed to improve your betting patterns throughout a session of blackjack. Used in the world of economics and finance, the system is also extremely useful when counting cards at the blackjack table.

The main aim of the system is outline when it’s best to alter your bets to maximise your profits when the deck is in your favour. The criterion was developed by John Kelly whilst he was working at the Bell Labs in Texas and quickly became a staple strategy for professional blackjack players.

In practice the mathematical formula considers a number of different variables in order to produce a result which determines what percentage of your bankroll you should wager at any given point during the game. When combined with accurate card counting, the system can be the stuff of nightmares for casinos as players are able to optimise their play in a way that overcomes the house edge.

Implementing the Kelly Criterion at the blackjack table is extremely difficult and takes a huge amount of experience and practice.

The Kelly Criterion’s formula is shown below:

The Kelly Criterion’s formula


f* = fraction of bankroll to wager

b = is the odds received on the wager, such as "3 to 2" odds (where b = 3 here)

p = probability of winning (example: this number is 0.75 for a 75% probability)

q = probability of losing, equal to 1 - p (example: q = 1-0.75 = 0.25)

Once you’ve plugged in some numbers (specific to your session of blackjack) you’ll be presented with an answer to f* which will give you the fraction of your bankroll you should be betting in that situation.

While the Kelly Criterion is fantastic for maximising your expected profits in positive equity situations, it is a very complex and cumbersome formula. Indeed, the average casino blackjack player will not be able to do this at the table and maintain a winning strategy.

Therefore, while it’s useful to understand the concept if you’re going to be playing Unibet casino games, it’s not something to try without extensive practice.

If casino isn’t for you, why not try sport betting? Check out the Unibet EK 2012 odds; it’s a great starting place.


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