Become a blackjack guru...learn how to count cards


Just remember, that while you can count cards at your local casino, you can't do it while playing online...all online games deal each new game from a full shuffled deck/shoe.  But you are probably interested in how the pros beat the casinos, right?  Well here are the basics.

Card counting gives the player a means of knowing at a given point in a blackjack game, whether they hold an edge over the house, based on a knowledge of the mix of cards remaining in the deck.  The mix of cards remaining in the deck is crucial because the probability of the player winning a hand in blackjack increases when there is an abundance of 'high cards' (ie 10's, Aces and picture cards) remaining to be dealt.

Why are high cards advantageous for the player?

  • A high card rich deck will lead to more blackjacks being dealt to both the dealer and player.  Blackjack for the player pays 3 to 2, blackjack for the dealer is just like a normal dealer win 

  • The dealer must hit on a stiff hand (12 to 16), which will more likely lead to a bust when the deck is high card rich.  The player can sit on a stiff hand.

  • The probability of success for double down bets for the player increases.

Card counting simply gives the player an idea as to whether the remaining deck is high card, or low card rich, and therefore whether the probability of winning is enhanced or reduced for the remainder of the current deck/shoe.  This can be done by keeping track of the cards already dealt as follows:

  • each card is assigned a tag;

  • low cards - 2 to 6, are assigned a tag of +1;

  • high cards - 10's and picture cards, are assigned a tag of -1;

  • other cards - 7's , 8's and 9's, are assigned a tag of 0

You then simply keep a running count of the card's tags as they are dealt. Your count after the shuffle, and before the first deal is 0 (this indicates an equal number of large and small cards).  If your running count is positive, the remaining deck is high card rich, if it is negative, the remaining deck is low card rich.

You can practice your counting at home by dealing yourself a deck of cards, and counting as you go.  If you finish with a 0 once the whole deck is dealt you got it right.

Well, now that you can count cards, all you need to know is how to bet based on the count.  In simple terms, you play basic strategy, and up the ante when your count is positive (by a degree consistent with the extent of the positive count) and reduce the ante when the count in negative.   

Good luck! 

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