The Secret to Blackjack Card Counting

When you think of  beatable casino game, the only option that comes to mind in blackjack. It has been mathematically proven that on certain game conditions and playing the perfect strategy, a blackjack player can get a slight edge over the house. Card counting is not easy. However, many card counting systems exists so you are bound to find a system that will make it easier for you to get a head start.
There are a lot of claims about special schemes or methods for winning in casino games but most of these claims are totally unfounded.  Card counting, however, can work and even has a proven track record for making money for those who do it correctly.

In a short article such as this, it would be too difficult to teach the technique of card counting but you can learn from this article what all is involved in card counting in order for you to do it correctly.  After you know what’s involved, you can then decide whether it is worth your time and effort to learn.

Card Counting 101

In blackjack, card counting refers to a technique that allows you to “beat the house”.  By this we mean that you will make more money in the long run but not necessarily on any given day.  You can beat the house by playing in a manner that puts the odds in your favor and you can do this by watching and waiting.

For example, when the deck has enough high-value cards (10, J, Q, K, A), the odds favor the player.  This has been proven statistically although exactly how much they will favor the player depends on the house rules.  House rules refer to the game rules in a particular casino.  The number of decks the dealer is using and how far into the shoe (the container from which the cards are dealt) the dealer deals before shuffling also affect the odds.

The basic concept here is to watch the cards as they are dealt and then to bet more when the deck has more high-value cards than average.  Bet less when the house has the edge, more when you have the edge, and the odds are in your favor.  If you follow this scheme, in the long run you should make money.

The above explanation over simplifies the technique, however, so it’s recommended that you study a good book on card counting before you play.  In order to effectively play basic strategy you really need to understand when to “hit” and when to “stand”.  And in order to truly have an edge it is necessary to play precisely.  Practicing at home as much as you can is also a good idea, as it can be very difficult to keep track of all the cards coming out of the shoe while simultaneously contending with all the inherent distractions present in a casino.

The “counting” part is where you assign a value to the cards and track them.  This is easiest to do at a table where the cards are all dealt face-up (with the exception of the dealer’s ‘hole’ card).  One system, for example, assigns aces and face cards a value of –1, two through six a value of +1, and seven, eight, and nine neutral values.

While you watch the cards, you add and subtract their values and continue betting the table minimum.  Once you arrive at a predetermined count, for example +7, you raise your bet.  The high count means that there are a higher percentage of high-value cards remaining in the deck than normally. Thus, the odds are in your favor.

One card counter’s strategy was to sit at a table for most of the evening, always betting the minimum $2, and shift chips from one hand to another to keep track of the plus or minus count.  When the shoe was rich enough in high-value cards, this player would suddenly start placing bets on two hands at $20 each.

While this player made money, he didn’t make that much.  Even if you are good at card counting, as this player was, you will still only get an edge on the casino of 1.5%.  Assuming that you can tolerate alternating days of winning and losing and hours upon hours of concentration you will only end up making about $9/hour.  And this is only if 75 hands/hour are dealt and you average $8 per hand between your minimum bets and your other bets.

Obviously, if you bet more your hourly rate will go up when you win but it will also go up when you lose.  We can conclude, therefore, that even though it can improve your odds, card counting is definitely not for everyone.

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