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card counting blackjack guide

The Definitive Guide to Card Counting in Blackjack

Everyone talks about card counting in blackjack, but no one seems to know how to do it right. If you want to be a winner, check out our definitive guide to card counting in blackjack!

The game of blackjack is hands down one of the most popular casino games anywhere. There are many reasons for this, but perhaps the most common being that blackjack is one of the few games featured in casinos that allow gamblers to come out ahead.

That said, those that wish to beat consistently the house and walk away with more cash than they arrived with need to have a deep understanding of how to properly count cards.

At first glance, most people may consider this to be a daunting subject. This is because card counting is considered by many to be a difficult subject to understand. The good news is that it isn’t.

Card counting isn’t too hard - if you know how to do it right.

This article will take a closer look at this subject, and will help readers interested in blackjack and gambling to get the most out of their experiences. It will also answer the question central to this article:

What is the best way to count cards in blackjack?

Let's answer this question.

How to Count Cards in Blackjack

Card Counting Basics

1. What Is 'Card Counting'?

Many would-be gamblers are under the impression that counting cards require a computer like memory, and they also believe that those who do so need to be capable of keeping track of every single card in the deck, at all times. Luckily, the reality of the situation is a lot less complicated than that.

Counting cards actually involves simply figuring out what the ratio of cards with a value of 10 are to the ratio of those with values that are less than 7.

If this ratio stays high, blackjack players will find that they get the maximum possible return from making use of basic blackjack strategy. When the ratio is lower, blackjack players are much better off only placing the minimum bet, and biding their time until the ratio changes in their favor.

How Does Card Counting Work?

Individuals that investigate the subject will soon find that there are many different ways - and strategies- to count cards. These methods exist on a continuum from ridiculously simple, to extremely complex.

That said, they all mostly follow the same underlying strategy. This is simply to make sure to keep track of the ratio of high-value cards, to lower value cards in whatever deck is being used.

How to count cards in blackjack

Many experts agree that the best way to begin card counting is by using a method called the "high-low" count.

In order to use this method, players should make sure to keep score beginning with the VERY FIRST card that is dealt. After every additional card, this count or score will change. The system works in this way:

  • The score always starts at zero
  • Any card that has a value between 6 and 2 would ADD one digit to the score
  • Any face cards, aces, or 10's would result in one being SUBTRACTED from the score
  • Any other card that is drawn should be scored with 0 - in other words, there is no change in these situations

By now, counters in-training will have gotten the idea that by doing this, they can get an idea of how many low value cards are left in the deck at any given time.

The higher this count is, the more high-value face cards will be left in the deck. The lower overall score is, the more lower value cards will be left over in the deck.

One more step is necessary before players begin using counts to govern their next move. This is known as making a 'TRUE COUNT.'

A true count is when players divide their ongoing count by the overall number of decks left to be played out. This will usually be an estimate, and relies on keeping a close eye on the status of the shoe in order to figure out how many decks are probably left in the game.

This true count will almost always provide a decent level of certainty in terms of how many high value cards remain in the deck. If the number is high, there will be a larger number of high cards remaining. Once the count drops below zero, this will indicate that more high cards have been dealt than low cards.

What Is The Benefit of Knowing How Many High Cards Are Left?

  • By keeping a close eye on the count, and having a good idea how many high cards are left in the deck, savvy players will be able to make educated and wise decisions while playing.
  • If the option to double down or split is present, players will have a better chance of coming out ahead on the hand. If the dealer receives an ace, and the player has a high count, they know that it's time to play it safe.
  • If the player is dealt a hand between 16 and 12, and the count remains high, then players will know that standing is the best policy.
  • If the count is low, players should use minimum betting, and employee basic strategy at the same time. To be safe, they will want to continue counting the cards until the odds are back in their favor.

By making these kinds of smart decisions at key moments, counting cards will provide an important statistical advantage.

As time goes by, blackjack players should continue to learn more about counting cards, and study strategies of higher complexity.

Some Caveats

Don't let the casino spot you!

Prospective blackjack card counters should always remember that casinos realized that people will attempt to count cards.

While it will not result in a jail sentence if the player is caught doing this, in many cases they will be looked upon with disfavor by the establishment and possibly asked to leave - and never come back.

In many situations, casino bosses require dealers to reshuffle the shoe with great frequency. This can make opportunities to count cards hard to come by.

Another thing players should be conscious of is giving away the fact that they are counting. Things like moving the lips while counting, and making huge bets during high counts are dead giveaways.

Order to defeat efforts to detect them, counters should always practice counting at home until they can do so without giving anything away. At the same time, they may want to occasionally raise their bets when the count is low, and lower the bet when the count is high. They will then be able to avoid alerting the dealer to the fact that they are counting.

Practice! Practice! Practice!

It is of critical importance that players should spend many hours practicing this technique online before making a live trip to a casino. They should start practicing with a single deck, and work their way up to 6.

Another training method involves visiting a local casino and spectating for a while. While doing so, players should attempt to ascertain whether they can maintain an accurate count in a real-life situation.

Once individuals are confident that they can do so, they will finally be ready for the real thing. Remember, card counting is a strategy that is best applied over time. Because of this, individuals should be satisfied with small wins. These will accumulate much faster than they may imagine.

As can be seen, card counting is really not a difficult skill to master. Those that apply the above-mentioned principles - and make sure to master their card counting skills at home - will be putting themselves in a great position to beat the house almost every time.

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