Tips on Counting Cards In Blackjack

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In casino gaming, the reason why the house wins most often compared to the players is because of the “House Edge.” The house edge also known as Vigorish or Casino Advantage can simply be defined as the potential profit the casino expects to make in terms of the percentage of the original bet placed by the player.

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Counting Cards is a very prominent blackjack card gaming strategy commonly employed by players during the gameplay. The aim is to maximize their chances of winning or better still to cut down potential losses. The strategy helps players to amend their playing decisions depending on the configuration of the card.

In situations where the count gives an advantage, the player can bet more whereas if the count is deemed unfavorable, it serves as a signal for the player to find every possible alternative or strategy to minimize his potential loss as the rounds progress.

How to Count Cards in Blackjack

Contrary to how hard the majority of blackjack players made blackjack card counting seem, it is a very easy skill to learn and then develop over time. Counting cards can be achieved in four different stages:

  • Tag or assign a value to each card: This is achieved by using the most frequently used card counting system — the Hi-Lo system. It involves appointing a value to every card immediately after the shuffle as they are being dealt by the dealer. The value (+1) should be allocated to all 2 to 6 ranked cards, tag every 10-A card a value of (-1), and assign all 7-9 ranked cards the value of (0).

Therefore, as each card is dealt, depending on the value of each card, you are to subtract 1, add 1, and at other times, do nothing, depending on the circumstances in play.

  • Keep a “running count” based on the value of the cards dealt: what this implies is that the counter should update the running counts based on the new information obtained from each card as they are being dealt at every point in the rounds. 

This is done continuously for all the cards being pulled out from the shoe until the cards are shuffled again by the dealer.

  • Determine the count per deck or true count: The true count can be determined by utilizing the information collected from the running count.

Nowadays, to frustrate the efforts of card counters, casinos have now resorted to using multiple decks. However, there are other ways card counters can bypass this challenge — by simply translating the information gathered from the running counts to a true count. With this result, a player can bet according to his/her advantage.

The true count also signals to you when you should adjust your playing strategy to increase your bets, and or reduce them to minimize losses.

  • Adjust your bets based on the result of true counts:  blackjack card counting is only effective when you can utilize the result of your true count to determine when the game flips in favor of the dealer or your favor. Else, you will find the game extremely exhausting.

Therefore, to effectively leverage the information retrieved from counting, you are required to increase your bets as the true count also increases. A player is at an advantage when the true count is positive, hence should bet more, whereas when the true count is negative or neutral, the dealer is at advantage, and you are advised at this point to reduce your bets as much as possible.

History of Card Counting — How It Started

The globally prominent technique of counting cards in blackjack didn’t just appear from the thin air, it was a game-changing strategy created by an American Mathematics Professor known as Edward Thorp.

Although if we are to go by history, Edward wasn’t the first person to create this ingenious technique of card counting in blackjack. Specifically, Jess Marcum is unarguably the first person to create a counting system — the point counting system. He was the first person to come up with the notion of looking for an edge,  by continuously counting the cards already dealt by the dealer.

However, Edward was the first to write a book filled with the most mathematically-correct blackjack card counting procedure, of which numerous card counters have attributed their success to. To date, He is regarded as the father of card counting in blackjack games.

Several professional blackjack players also contributed to the strategy, meanwhile, that of Edwards was considered the most convenient and simple to learn. Hence its wide level of adoption by many professional blackjack players around the world.

Is counting cards illegal?

However, the casino resorts are considered private properties and as such expected to have their specific laws guiding the conduct of players within the casino premises. Most casinos do not condone card counting, as such suspects found guilty are subject to one form of punishment or the other — mostly you will be banned from playing at the casino.
The act of counting cards in blackjack is legal. Not even in the federal or state laws is the act considered illegal or considered a violation. A card counter cannot be arrested by the cops for card counting at casinos, neither can they convict you of any crime concerning card counting, provided you make use of your brain and not some external devices or software.

Can I count cards at online casinos?

Yes, you can count cards at online casino platforms, however, it is limited to online live dealer casinos. It is also important to let you know that most casinos have software that shuffles the cards making it a bit complicated for card counting.
However, there are software programs designed by developers to help you with counting. Meanwhile, they are forbidden.

Does card counting really work?

If done correctly, card counting can increase your odds by one 1 percent. I agree, this doesn’t look like much but the advantage is still there.
However, the fact that the technique is not full-proof is worth mentioning. The casino will always have a higher advantage than many card counters. Hence the need to take your risk management plan seriously whenever you play, irrespective of the casino game or the technique you intend to use.