Card Counting in Blackjack

Blackjack, like most card games, is as much about luck as it is strategy and math. You need luck because even the most skilled player cannot control what the next card drawn will be. Similarly, they cannot predict what face-down cards have already been dealt or what hand the dealer has.

Some players use gut instincts, or try to read faces for ‘tells’ as if they are playing poker. Other players try to count the cards.

Card counting in blackjack is a method which attempts to increase the advantage that the player has. It is not a way to predict what cards will be dealt next, but it does give a slightly broader picture of what is happening within the finite deck.

A card counter can employ any number of different systems to try and win the hand. Most of these involve watching what cards are dealt and either adding or subtracting 1 from a running total they maintain mentally. This total is, essentially, the odds that a favorable card will be drawn from the deck.

The player who is counting bases decisions on the current number they have figured out. A low number means the chances of getting a helpful card is low, and a high number means the opposite. They will wager their money accordingly, attempting to minimize their losses and maximize their gains.

The actual mathematical edge that card counting in blackjack gives a player may seem relatively insignificant to most people. However, for those who play cards for a living, even single-digit percentage advantages can make a huge difference over time.

Blackjack is usually chosen as the game of choice for card counting strategies because the game itself already begins with the highest odds for a player to beat the house and win. The odds can be much lower for other card games (like poker), regardless of the players level of ability.

Despite what some people think, it does not take someone with supernatural mental prowess to count cards. It just takes a person who understands one of the establish methods of doing it, and understands the game of blackjack.

It should be noted that card counting is not illegal. If the count is kept in one’s head, and no external device is used, then there is nothing criminal about doing it. Still, it cannot be used at most casinos. These are private businesses that have every right to deny services to any person for any reason. Most casinos are actively searching for card counters and regularly throw out those suspected of it, with or without evidence.

There are many books written on this subject, and there are at least a dozen different methods that can be employed. The simplest is called the ‘Hi/Lo’ method and is relatively easy to learn. Card counting in blackjack can give a definite edge over other players and the dealer, but luck will still determine the ultimate outcome of a hand.

To sharpen your skills, make sure to practice your skills on our free Blackjack Trainer, a interactive flash game which teaches while you play.

How to Count Cards in Blackjack

This article is part of our ongoing series on how to play blackjack, and it deals with card counting. When people talk about beating the odds of Blackjack the topic quickly turns to card counting, and how to do it. Most people think that they need an advanced degree from MIT in oder to be able to follow a proven card counting strategy, but that is simply not true. A basic card counting strategy is really quite simple to learn and employ, and can result in quite dramatic results. So, the Blackjack Trainer is going to outline a very basic card counting strategy which you can practice and develop. So lets begin with how to count cards.

If you don’t know what card counting is, then you should read this overview, Counting Cards in Blackjack. It discusses some of the basic points of what card counting is and is not, which we are not going to repeat in this posting. As well, the overview describes some of the variables that impact a card counting strategy, such as the number of decks in rotation.

Here are some key factors that need to be kept in mind when card counting;

  • the number of decks in play
  • how often the deck is shuffled
  • when the deck is shuffled
  • the number of aces that have been played

There are two numbers that the player needs to keep in mind when counting cards. We are going to go over a simple, single deck strategy to cover the basics. First, there are 13 cards in each suit from 2 – Ace, each with an intrinsic value. But Ten, Jack, Queen, and King all have a value of 10. So the