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What is Card Counting?

     In simplest terms, card counting is a strategy that allows a player to keep track of the cards that have been played and the cards remaining in the deck. It does NOT require memorization of each card played. Rather, the player simply groups the cards into a low, neutral, or high category.

What are the Benefits?

     By knowing if the remaining cards in a shoe are high or low, the player can make better betting decisions or deviate from basic strategy. For example, the player should maximize his bet when there are more high cards left in the shoe and should minimize his bet to avoid losing when there are low cards remaining in the shoe.

     High cards remaining in the shoe are good for the player because there is a better chance for the player to get a blackjack or strong hand, and more of a chance for the dealer to bust out (since the dealer must hit with 16 or below). The opposite is true for low cards and the dealer will benefit the most since he has a better chance of not busting and the player have less chance of drawing a strong hand.

Basic Card Counting

     The most basic card counting technique is the High-Low method. The player assigns a value of:

  • Plus 1 for a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6
  • Zero for 7, 8, or 9
  • Minus 1 for tens, and aces

     The player should keep a running count of the cards played from the deck, starting the count with a value of zero. For example, if the following cards are dealt: 10 (-1), K (-1), 10 (-1), 2 (+1), J (-1), Q (-1), then the running count would be -4. This would indicate that more high cards have been played, and more low cards are remaining. We know this because the system is balanced. After all the cards have been played, the running count will be zero again, just like when you started counting. This is called a balanced system.

     The above example works best for single deck games. However, if you are playing with a multiple deck shoe, then you need to convert the running count to the true count. The true count is the running count divided by the remaining decks to be played.

     There are also unbalanced systems which do not need to use the true count. The running count does not start at 0 and is based on the number of decks in the shoe. To learn more about unbalanced systems and basic counting, you can also look at Olaf Vancura and Ken Fuch's Knock-Out Blackjackmethod.

Advanced Counting Systems

     There are more advanced card counting systems which use assign other values besides minus 1 or plus 1. For a great level of accuracy, some systems assign values of 2 or 3 or halves (0.5). You can find more information from these books:

Download Casino Blackjack Game

     You can download a free trial of Casino Blackjack and learn to use the different counting methods. The counting method is configurable before each shoe is dealt. You can also practice and learn basic strategy, or just sit back and enjoy playing blackjack for fun!


 

   
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