Blackjack Card Counting
Counting cards in an easy skill to learn; however, performing the deed in an entirely different matter. Learning the technique of card counting can be accomplished by reading the contents of this page but that is not the deciding factor as to whether or not you will actually be able to do it. The art of blackjack card counting in a casino - with all the flashing lights, attractive waitresses servicing the tables, conversations and all other background noise - is not that easy, requiring many dedicated hours and an enormous amount of concentration. Any true gambler will tell you that that's easier said than done, as part of the reason of gambling is to have a good ol' time.
There is a significant difference between a card counter starting out and a beginning strategy player that often goes by unnoticed. In order for basic strategy players to be efficient at their game, they must memorize the rules. After this is achieved, the decisions at the table take on a more mechanical manner. For a card counter to be successful, two things have to be accomplished: the actual technique or know-how as well as the ability to perform in a casino environment. The most difficult in mastering the latter is being able to block out the constant interruptions that are much a part of casino life.
The theory of blackjack card counting is quite simple. The player's advantage depends on the ratio of low cards to high cards in the deck at any given time. If the deck contains more high cards (aces and tens) because the smaller cards have been played, you as the player are at an advantage. On the other hand, if the deck contains more of the lower cards (twos through sixes), the dealer has the advantage. Having said that, having the deck in your favour is not a guaranteed win; it simply means that you will win more hands than you will lose.
The ratio of high to low cards plays an important role in all card counting systems. Based on the ratio, certain changes in basic strategy are made based on the 'count' that increase a player's advantage or decrease his disadvantage when playing certain hands. If the cards remaining in the deck favour the player, he or she will bet larger sums of money since the odds of winning are greater. If the opposite is true and the deck contains more lower cards, the player will bet smaller amounts to minimize the potential loss.
There are many blackjack card counting systems that use the ratio of high to low cards and so it may be difficult to chose which system to use, especially because most of them work. Before deciding what method of card counting to use, think of the return on the time invested in learning it. Based on various studies, the advantage of multi-level counts (more difficult) to single-level (easier) is miniscule. So, let's start with one of the easiest card counting systems there is - the Hi-Lo Count.
The Hi-Lo Count
All cards in the deck are assigned either a +1, 0 or -1. The table below shows the values applied to the cards.
|2 through 6||+1|
|7, 8, 9||0|
|10s and aces||-1|
As you are playing, you'll be assigning the corresponding hi-lo number to each card that comes out of the deck. If more low cards are coming out, you'll have what is called a 'positive count' and, on the contrary, if more high cards are coming out, you'll have a 'negative count'. At the end of the round, a positive count will indicate that you have the advantage over the casino.
You're probably wondering why high cards favour the player. Well, let me explain. First of all, high cards are more likely to make a blackjack. Although both the player and the casino have the same chances of getting a blackjack, the player is paid off at 3 to 2 odds and thus, coming out on top. Also, even though the dealer will get better hands as will you in a positive count, he is more likely to bust as he has to hit his bust hands (12 through 16).
Now that you have learned the art of blackjack card counting, you can test it out by playing our free blackjack game. If you're interested in learning more, read up on the blackjack odds or browse through the tips page. There's much more to discover at Virtual-Blackjack.net.