How to Count Cards in Blackjack?
With all the decks out there today, counting cards will never be as potentially profitable as it once was, however it is a method that can be used with some success as well as adding some fun to the Blackjack table. Even when I’m playing casually and just for fun, I find myself maintaining an account.
Of course, counting cards in Blackjack will not guarantee you a win.
Before we get into how to count cards, let me discuss a few topics:
Important Notes about Card Counting in Blackjack:
There are no guaranteed earnings. It’s not “cheating” or anything like that. It’s all about reducing your handicap against the house and improving your chances of winning. Plus as I mentioned, it’s fun to do.
Is not easy. People see Kevin Spacey’s movie and think oh yeah, it’s easy. It is not. It really isn’t. It takes a lot of hard work to master card counting, and doing it at the tables is tough.
It is not impossible. It’s not impossible even with multi-deck games.
You need a good bankroll. In order to be able to count cards you need to sit at the table and pay attention to the cards – for a long time. You will also increase or decrease the size of your bets based on the count, so you need a bankroll to do so. If you’re betting $5-$25, you probably need to sit down with $1,000.
Casinos don’t like it. So you have to be careful or else you can get banned from the casino. We will cover this soon.
Counting Cards in Blackjack For Dummies
The first thing to remember is – high cards = good for the player, low cards = good for the dealer. If there are a lot of low cards in the deck, this will help the dealer to have 17 or better. If there are high cards, this increases your chances of getting a 20 or a Blackjack.
The easiest card counting system is known as Hi-Lo. You assign the cards a value.
Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten = -1
Nine, Eight, Seven = 0
Six, Five, Four, Three, Two = +1
This makes the account balanced and very easy to remember. This is essentially card counting in Blackjack for Beginners.
So if a King arrives, you must subtract 1 from the count. For every 5 you must add a 1. You do not change the account if a 9 arrives.
You need to keep count while playing at the casino. Let’s make an example hand:
Hugo, Pablo and Antonio are at a table. Hugo receives K8, Pablo 27 and Antonio 6Q. The dealer has an Ace face up. We start with 0. -1 for the King, the 8 is ignored, +1 for the 2, the 7 is ignored, +1 for the 6, -1 for the Q and -1 for the A. The count is -1.
Hugo stays. Pablo asks for a card and it is a 5 (count=0), then a 4 (count=+1), Antonio receives a 7 and folds, which does not affect the count. The dealer receives a 2 and an 8 getting a 21, and this is a +1 and a 0, leaving the count at +2.
It may seem complicated but the more you practice it, the more you will internalize it. For example, you will come to see a Q6 and remember that they cancel each other out.
Single Blackjack vs Multi-Deck Blackjack
This is how cards are counted in Blackjack. And now, how do we use it? May vary depending on decks. For example, in Single Deck Blackjack if you have a +5 count, you want to bet big. However, if it’s an 8-deck game, +5 means nothing.
It is based on the number of decks used. Let’s say there are 8 decks. So if 3 decks have been dealt, there are 5 pending. So you have to divide based on it. In this case the actual count of 5 must be divided by 5, leaving the count at +1 which is really not very good.
Using Card Counting Without Being Detected
As I said before – nothing is guaranteed. You’re just increasing your odds. However, one thing you should do is not make it obvious that you are counting cards.
Theoretically you will be raising bets when the account is high. However, you don’t want to go crazy. Only increase in small portions and don’t do it ONLY based on the account. Bet high if you’re on a hot streak.
You can have a system if you want – like starting with $5 at a neutral or negative point, $10 when it’s +1, $15 at +2, $25 at +3 or higher, if you’re playing $5-$25. This isn’t really bad and you’re mixing up the stakes a bit to not make it seem so obvious what you’re doing.
Don’t do big jumps. Don’t spend $5 to $25 in one hand. Maybe you can double down or go to $15 but that’s about it.
Do natural things. If you win by $25, betting $100 high on the next hand might seem like a good move, but it’s pretty obvious. Instead, say you’re feeling lucky and let the winning bet go up. Movements like this never attract attention.
And hey, make sure you tip the dealer. They are the most vigilant in the casino and they won’t care what you are doing as long as they get their tip.