Card Counting Basics In Blackjack

The beauty of card counting when playing Blackjack is that anyone can do it. While there is of course an art to mastering how to count cards and do it almost without thinking. Once you understand the theory of how to do it you can then fine tune your playing strategy to incorporate the finer details of becoming a most efficient card counter and increase your chances of winning.

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The reason people count cards is that there will often come a time when the cards which are remaining in the shoe or deck are more beneficial to the player than the dealer. This happens whenever the deck is rich in lower valued cards as opposed to higher valued cards.

By keeping track of which cards have been dealt out into play and subsequently removed from the deck, the player can then utilize this knowledge to their own benefit. But only when of course there are more low valued cards than high valued ones still remaining in the deck.

The most basic of all card counting systems will use what is known as the high/low count, and this is where you keep a mental track of each card which has been dealt out, this is done by allocating a value to each playing card and then doing some simple arithmetic as the game plays out.

Hi/Low Count – Card Values and Running Count

Each card in the deck needs to be allocated a card value, and as such all playing cards used in any game of Blackjack whereby someone is using a hi/low count are given the following values:

Low Value Cards: The two, three, four, five and six cards each have a value on the hi/low count method of counting cards of Plus One. These particular cards when remaining in the deck are very useful to the dealer and as such the more of them which have been dealt out and the fewer number of them still remaining to be dealt the better it is for the player.

Zero Value Cards: The Seven, Eight and Nine cards are all zero valued cards so when counting cards they do not affect the count, which will be explained shortly.

High Valued Cards: The Ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace cards all have a value in regards to counting cards of Minus One, and these particular cards are more helpful to the player than the dealer when a deck is rich in them.

Once you have learned the value of each playing card then you need to wait until a new shoe of cards has been put into play, and then simply keep a running count as each card is dealt out.

This is known as the Running Count and by either adding one or taking one away from this count as the game unfolds you will then be aware when the deck becomes player friendly.

When the game first gets underway you start with a count of zero and as such depending on which cards then get dealt out the count will be either remain at zero or become a minus count (when lots of high valued cards have been dealt) or a plus count (when more low valued cards have been dealt out).
As an example let us presume the following cards have been dealt out:

K (-1), 2(+1), 7(0), 4(+1), 6(+1), 8(0), Q(-1), A(-1), 3(+1), at this point in the game the count is +1, and by taking a look at the betting strategy below, this will show you how much to wager depending on the value of the count.

Betting Strategy when Counting Cards

When a new deck has been put into play you will be betting just one unit stake, this could be for example the minimum permitted stake allowed on the game you are playing, so we will use as an example a $10.00 minimum bet.

As you are keeping track and counting each card dealt out while the count is still at zero, you simply place $10.00 on each hand you are playing. The count will of course fluctuate upwards and downwards as the cards are dealt out, however you will need to increase your wager once the count becomes more positive.

The amount you wager will be increased as follows based on the current count of the cards (this betting strategy is based on a six deck shoe): When the count is zero or a minus figure, then stick to those one unit ($10.00) wagers.

If and when you get to a point in the game where the count is +18 you need to place two units ($20.00) as your staked amount, a +36 count will call for an increase to four unit ($40.00) wagers, a +54 count will see you increasing your wagers to eight units ($80.00). For every deck in the shoe, the numbers go up or down by 3. For example, on a 5-deck shoe you increase the wagers at +15, +30, and +45.

As with any gaming system or strategy you are best advised to get as much practice in as possible, as by mastering both the way to count cards and also fully understanding the wagering strategy. While testing the system out in private you will not run the risk of making any costly mistakes when playing in a land based casino!