Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Introduction to Blackjack Card Counting Strategy

Staff Writer in Casino Strategies 30 Apr 2018


You enjoy playing Blackjack and you want to make the most of it? Then, the good news is that this casino game allows you to get an advantage over the house and eventually beat it once you master skills. We have already published a strategy article dealing with the ways to beat the house in Blackjack and now we want to introduce Blackjack card counting strategy to you. Unlike the basic strategy which can help you reduce the house edge, card counting can help you beat the house and take all the profit.

What Is Blackjack Card Counting?

Card counting is more technique than strategy as it requires keeping track of cards that have been dealt during a Blackjack game. Actually, you don’t have to remember all the cards, but to assign certain numbers to the cards that have been dealt thus calculating the ratio of high cards to low cards. For instance, whenever an Ace, 10 or a face card is dealt, you assign it the number -1, +1 is added to low-value cards while 0 is assigned to medium-value cards. This is one of the basic card counting systems and once you start using it, you should make calculations and place your bets according to them. If the card count value is higher than +3, most players would raise their stakes and decrease them when it goes below this value. To put it simply, if the value of a card count is higher, more high-value cards are still in the deck which means that odds of hitting a blackjack are higher too.

The things get more complicated if multiple decks are in play, but you can still count cards. In this case, you should divide the card count value by the number of decks. However, if you play virtual Blackjack variants at online casinos, you won’t be able to use card counting as the deck is shuffled after each hand. On the other hand, the technique can still be practiced at live online casinos. Keep in mind that the most important thing you should know before you start card counting is how many decks are in play. 

Is Card Counting Legal?

Well, this is a tricky question. Card counting is not cheating as it depends on the player’s skills, but the truth is that casinos hate card counters and in most cases they get banned for using this technique. For instance, American actor Ben Affleck was accused of ‘advantage play’ by Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and told to stop playing blackjack there for card counting. Reportedly, he was banned for life from playing the game at this Las Vegas casino.

Let’s get one thing straight, Blackjack card counting is not an illegal activity. However, casinos don’t like to lose and tend to keep suspected card counters out of their premises. When it comes to live online casinos, they also reserve the right to ask you to leave the table in case you are suspected. 

Card Counting Systems

Card counting requires a lot of concentration and time to master. Here we present you some of the most popular card counting systems you can make use of:

1. Hi-Lo System 

This system has been in use since 1963 and it is suitable both for beginners and intermediate players. Each card is assigned a number depending on its value, with the cards from 2 to 6 being assigned the number +1. High-value cards including 10s, Js, Qs, Ks and As are assigned the number -1 while the cards 7, 8 and 9 are assigned the number 0. Now, you have to learn the terms “running count” and “true count”. The former is the number you get when cards are dealt and the latter is the number you get when you divide the running count by the number of decks in the shoe. The higher the number you get, the higher chances of creating a blackjack hand. 

2. Knock Out Count 

This system is also suitable for both beginners and intermediate players. The only difference between the Hi-Lo system and this one is that 8s and 9s are assigned the number 0. When using this system, it is preferable to start increasing your bet if the card count is +2.

3. The Omega II System

Omega II is a multi-level system introduced in 2001. Being more complex system, it is suitable for intermediate and experienced Blackjack players. When using the Omega II system, you will mark the cards 2, 3 and 7 with the number +1, while other low-value cards including 4, 5 and 6 are assigned the number +2. The 9 is assigned the number -1 while 10s and Js, Qs and Ks are assigned the number -2. According to this system, As and 8s are marked with 0. Just like with other systems, once you have a running count, you should calculate a true count by dividing the first value by the number of decks in play.



Staff Writer



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