Counting Cards at Blackjack

countCounting Cards in Blackjack

Why It Works?

When the dealer prepares to deal the cards, the fraction of cards with the value of 10 (10, Jack, Queen and King) will always be 30.77% (16/52). However, as the shuffled cards starting being distributed, this percentage will go up and down. It has been proven mathematically that if those cards  are in greater percentage in the remaining deck, the house advantage can change and be transformed to an advantage to the player.

Plenty of cards in the deck remaining with the value 7, 8 and 9 have no impact on the house edge.

A deck rich in 10-value cards is advantageous to the player because:

  1. Immediately it is more likely for natural blackjack to be distributed.  Players are paid 3 to 2 for natural blackjack – it is big advantage for the player. Also, a highest percentage of remaining aces in the deck results in increased natural blackjacks.
  2. Plenty of 10-value cards also increases the potential value gains for the player when it iss allowed to double the bet.
    1. Ie, there are times during the game where you have an advantage over the casino. This happens if the highest cards are in greater quantity than the cards with low value.
    2. The player can “get” any sum of their hand, while the croupier must continue with a score of 16 or lower. For this reason, the dealer probabilistically has much greater chance of busting.

The base consists of counting cards to detect when these situations occur . It is accepted that a very good card counter may have an advantage of 1% to 1.5%  – with the aid of basic strategy.

There are many techniques to count cards, but most people believe that the card counter has to know exactly the next card. Actually, that’s not how it works, the technique of card counting works by assigning a value system for each card. The move that hands are being played, it’s reached a certain sum in card counting which indicates that it is a favorable for the player to win hands and thereby increases the bets.

However, to be a card counter you need a lot of practice and have great power of concentration, since it is required great speed to count all the cards at once. Ideally, first practice at home until you can perfectly master these techniques.

One of the most easiest system to count cards is the hi low system. Aces and cards with a face value of 10 are counted as minus 1 (-1). The cards with a value of two to six are counted as one (+1). As the count becomes positive, the player begins to increase the bets.


Counting Cards – Only Half the Battle

count3Even for the most talented card counter blackjack, it is not an easy path to wealth and fortune, but a path that requires a lot of discipline, and often boring.

In any case, to  master card counting and basic strategy is only half the battle. The other half is ensure that your system is hidden from the casino. Counting cards in blackjack is not illegal … just not welcome by the casino … When they suspect a player is doing it, typically will invite you to leave, especially if you are winning a lot.

In the famous book, “Bringing Down The House,” Ben Mezrich, describes how a team from MIT won over $ 3 million dollars traveling the American casinos and using HLC system. It’s a very interesting read, I always recommend the book although there is already a famous movie about the topic. In the book he describes how some of the team members would count and bet small, signaling the table for other team members to enter and bet strong when the time was right.

It is not illegal or unethical to count cards, If you feel that you have this talent or inclination, work, study and then play, you will see that you will know bets much better when comparison with other players at the table.

The casinos try to fight card counters, adding more decks to the game and using shuffling machines . The casino staff is relatively well trained and understands the basics of card counting. For example, the ideal situation for a counter card is clearly increasing your bets when half of the decks have been played and count is very positive. However, the casinos know this pattern well and the boss with the help of video cameras will be attentive to your steps after you start winning big.



Discretion is key, and its important is  somewhat obvious in the performance of counting cards.  So as you see, counting cards alone can be easiest part to achieve,  other aspects require also your intelligence. In a  busy casino,  a player counting cards and bet can be less noticed.

Also limits your play time, change of casino more often,  so you have less chances of being remembered, and of course expensive chips  draw more attention.  keep the money in your wallet or pocket.

If you feel that the heat is starting to set up, then start playing normally, regardless of what it says your card counting. Betting on Insurance and winning constantly w is not at all normal … After some time to play normally go quietly from the casino. If you have not been detected during the game, the boss will start to realize that something is wrong when counting the flow of the game and see a significant loss casino … But it is too late.

Based on these challenges, professional card counters, work in teams and sometimes disguised, never go to the same casino after big wins. A player begins to play with small stakes and count the cards.

Hi – Lo – Counting Cards in Blackjack

There are several types of systems for counting cards, ranging from the simplest to the most complicated. Of these, clearly the Hi-Lo Card Counting has gain tremendous popularity.

Hi-Lo Card Counting System

The count attribute the value +1 to the cards 2 to 6 . From 7-9 the value 0, and 10 to Ace the value -1.

The count begins with the value 0 and the end of each hand a  sum is counted  –  (Running Count).

When the count is positive, it means that there are still more high cards and favors the player against the dealer.


True Count – Counting Cards

Nowadays blackjack is typically played with more than one deck – usually 6 to 8 decks (in the online casino games still exist with only one playing card deck). Thus, for the current count to be corrected you have to really know how many decks have been played.

Calculate the true count is very simple – just divide the current count value by the number of decks still in play. That is, if the current count value is 17 and there are still four decks in play then the result is 16/4 = 4.

Although easy to understand is difficult to determine exactly how many decks are still to be played, however most professional blackjack considers that a reasonable estimate is enough to be effective, to just look at the section where are the decks to be played, and see if it looks like it is half, one quarter, three quarters, etc..

However, there are methods of counting cards in blackjack it is not necessary to perform the step of counting true, like the Ko Counting Cards.


Ko Count – Count Cards in Blackjack

A system count that is easy to learn and effective. Unlike the hi-lo system, the value 7 retains the value +1 (in Hi has zero value)

Knock Out System – Values ​​Count

The cards 2,3,4,5,6 and 7 (have the value +1.)

10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace (have the value -1)

8:09 have the value 0.

It is a kind of quick count enough to determine the value of the count in each round. This type of counting is considered beginner level.

It is also referred to as unbalanced count because the count of a deck does not end in zero, because there are more cards with value +1.

This means that the values ​​tend to rise in the count which is easier if the player not to lose the count. The count is lower when high cards remain to be distributed, which is good for the player.

Armed with basic strategy, the player bet more when you have an advantage (the count is two or more), and adjust when the house has the advantage.

Although less accurate than the Hi-Lo, the difference is not bery significant, and  for players who never counted cards, Ko is the ideal system to start practicing these techniques.

However, before trying any system of counting cards, it is important to know how to play well based on basic strategy.


Card Counter invests in Blackjack – do not “play” Blackjack

Investor is an appropriate title for a career professional card counter. Some may say that is a small matter of semantics. After all, players and investors put money in line with the aim of making profit. However, there is a great difference between the approaches and results of a player in relation to an investor.

These are the characteristics of a player:

1) A player makes little or no research and preparation before taking risks.

2) A player expects to win despite unfavorable odds.

3) A player acts based on hunches, misinformation and unproven systems.

4) A player is affected by the emotions of greed and fear.

5) The motivation of a player is largely driven by the search for excitement and entertainment.

6) A player loses.

On the other hand, these are the characteristics of an investor:

1) An investor complete thorough research and preparation before taking risks.

2) The investor knows that he / she has a high probability of winning (making money), because the odds are in your favor.

3) An investor uses a rational model and proven or system.

4) An investor does not allow emotions to influence your decisions.

5) the motivation of the investor is not risk seeking and entertainment.

6) An investor earns.

These characteristics are true, not only at blackjack but in practically any game with potential / investment, whether it is the stock market, poker, real estate or buying a fast food franchise. Players tend to have a narrow and short-term risk versus reward, focusing mainly on the potential. On the other hand, investors see the big picture and manage well the  risk factor when assessing the long-term investment. Of course even the most experienced investment has an element of chance. But if you have the mindset and implement a rational, proven, system it will maximize the chances of your  success.

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Kim Hunt

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