Counting Cards

Can you do basic elementary math?  If so, then you can become a professional blackjack counter.  It is that easy.  Card counting is a combination of simple math, memory and multi-tasking.  The first two anyone can do, but it is the multi-tasking that is generally the downfall for the novice card counter.
    Before we get too involved in how card counting works, lets me show you how to count cards.  The most basic card counting method is the Hi-Lo system.  The Hi-Lo system works by adding one to the count for each 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 card.  You will also subtract one from the count for each 10, face card and Ace. Sevens, eights and nines will have no effect on the count.  For example, if all the cards played were (4, 2, 3, 9, 10, 8, 3, 4) then the count would be +4 (1+1+1+0-1+0+1+1 = +4).  If that took you more than 2 seconds count, then you are going to need to practice your card counting skills, don't worry 99% of you will need to practice before going to the casino to count cards.  In the above example +4 was the count, but the true count will depend on the number of decks left.  To get the true count you will need to divide the count by the number of decks left in the shoe.  For example, if there are four decks left then the true count would only be +1 (+4/4 decks = +1), but if there is only half a deck left, then the true count would be a +8 (+4/0.5 decks = +8).  At +1, you just barely have an edge over the casino, but at +8 you have a large edge over the dealer.


Player Edge in Counting Cards

Counting cards will not give you the ability to win more hands than you lose.  All that counting cards does, is gives you the ability to know when to bet more, when to bet less and when to walk away from a blackjack table.  The player's edge in the Hi-Lo System is 1.35% if they play every hand that is dealt on a 15-1 spread.  You can further increase your edge by deciding to walk away from a table if the count is too low for you.  This will increase your edge over the dealer, but it will also decrease the amount of hands per hour that you can play.
    When the count is 0 or less, than the house will have an edge over you, so you should either walk away or place your minimum bet.  When the true count is between 1 and 4, you will have a small edge over the dealer.  Any count above +5 will give you a good edge over the dealer.  If you haven't sat down at a table yet, it would be a good idea to count the cards and wait till the count reaches this count.  I wouldn't wait much longer, because waiting for the count to be higher than +5 will significantly reduce the amount of hands you get to play during a session.

Where you get your edge in Card Counting

Believe it or not, you will still be losing more hands than you win when the count is as high as +10.  That might sound ridiculous, but it is true.  So where is the edge when you are counting cards?  The edge is when you are getting paid 1.5 bets for getting a blackjack and when you are doubling down on hands where you have a big edge over the dealer.  Counting cards can make you a lot of money, but is a slow grind, with some quick downswings as well.  If you sit and play almost every hand, on average you can expect to win 1.0 to 1.5 initial bets hour depending the amount of players at the table and the speed of the game.
    You will need to lower or increase your bet as the count goes down and up, whether or not you choose to play every hand.  Whenever the count is +1 or less, you should bet your initial bet.  As the count goes up, you can bet more per hand.  If you have any ambitions in counting cards for a living, you should alter your wagers in a somewhat natural way.  The 15-1 spread that we talked about before, is way too high, but we used that because we were playing every hand in our simulation.  A more natural betting spread would be a 5-1 or an 8-1 spread.  You can keep your edge playing this spread, just as long as you are not playing in hands where the counts is too low.
    The betting spread that I use will depend on whether I am playing at my local casino or a casino that I do not frequent often.  When playing locally I will bet 1 unit whenever the count is +1, 2 units when the count is +2 or +3, 3 units when the count is +4 or +5 and 5 units whenever the count is +6 or greater.  Outside of my local area, I get quite a bit more aggressive, sometimes too aggressive for my own good.  I will bet 1 unit when the count is +1, 2 units when the count is +2 or +3, 4 units when the count is +5 to +7 and 10 units whenever the count is +8 or higher.

Card Counting Training

If you go to the casino today and start counting cards, you will probably get slaughtered.  You are going to need to practice at home and online before hitting the casinos.  Before training you should remember to bookmark this page (Press Ctrl + D).  Next you will need to practice counting cards, by getting a deck and keeping track of the count as you see the cards.  Once you are getting good at this, you can try using 2 or 3 decks, while removing a couple cards so that the final count doesn't always end at zero.
    Okay now you can count cards, but can you play perfect strategy blackjack and keep track of the count.  This is the toughest part of counting cards.  For a true test you should talk out loud every time you want to hit, stand, double or split.  You should also be adding noise to your background once you are getting better in keeping the count and playing proper blackjack.  The final test at home comes when you can keep a conversation over the phone, play proper blackjack and keep the count.
    Right now you are almost ready to count cards at your local casino, but before you do, you should practice at an online casino with a live dealer.  There are many casinos that will let you play blackjack with a live dealer.  For this exercise we recommend you play at the Bet Online Casino.