Counting Cards in Blackjack
Blackjack Card Counting
With dreams of making easy money, people are always trying to find an edge when it comes to casino games. For most games it just isn't possible, but blackjack is a special case ? it actually is possible to beat the house playing it. In contrast with games that are purely luck, blackjack gives you the option to use info from the game to make strategic decisions such as how much to bet.
Until recently, card counting blackjack players could only be viable at brick and mortar games. This is because the contents of the remaining deck are being estimated when you count cards. When online blackjack games are played, the virtual deck is "shuffled" after each hand that is played, which makes keeping track of past hands useless. Live Dealer Online blackjack games, however, have brought back the possibility of blackjack card counting in online games. This is due to the fact that these games are run by a real dealer using real cards, broadcast over a webcam. Sadly there are almost no online casinos for USA players that offer live games at this time. Intnernational players should have no problem finding somehwere to play though, and hopefully these games soon also make it to the american market.
There is a single principle that makes card counting work. The player benefits from face cards and aces more than the dealer does. The reason for this is twofold:
First of all, the player chooses whether or not to hit their hand again, while the dealer adheres to very specific rules. Generally the dealer must hit until they reach 17-21 or when they bust by going over 21. When more face cards than other cards remain in the deck, there is a greater chance of the dealer busting. The opposite statement is also the case. When there are more low cards than face cards in the deck, there is a lower chance that the dealer will bust. This is why face cards favor the player, while low cards favor the dealer.
Second of all, aces help the player way more than they help the dealer. It's not too difficult to understand the reason for this. Making blackjack means that the player gets 1.5 times their bet. But when the dealer gets a blackjack, the player only loses their original bet, just as when they lose to a non-blackjack dealer hand that totals 17 through 21.
One simple but effective counting strategy is called the Hi-Lo count. In this strategy, face cards, tens, and aces are given a value of -1, and then the bad cards (2, 3, 4, 5 and 6) are allocated a value of +1. Cards 7, 8 and 9 have a value of 0 in this counting method.
As the cards are dealt from the deck or shoe, you keep a total of the card values in your head. For example, if the sequence of cards is 4, 9, Q, A, 3, 4, 2 you would tally the count like this:
|Card||Card Value||Running Count|
Once you've added it all up, the +2 count says that there are two fewer bad (small) cards in the deck compared to the good (high) cards. So in the remaining deck that hasn't been dealt yet, there are more good cards than bad cards for you. All it takes now to beat the casino is betting larger when the count is good!
This is just a simple introduction, so feel free to also visit our full length guide to really learn how to count cards in blackjack.