Counting cards is a technique and strategy that both lowers the casino's advantage and directly increases the chance for the player to win. There are a number of variants for counting cards, including simple card counting, standard card counting and professional card counting. They differ in terms of the counting method used and their complexities. Learning these techniques requires an excellent memory and long-term study. The player does have the advantage given specific game circumstances. The advantage shifts to the player when there are more high value cards (tens and face cards) in the croupier's deck than lower value cards. This is a disadvantage for the croupier as the rules may force the house to hit rather than stand. A player can stand at any number of points while the croupier must hit on a 16. The higher the number of cards with a value of 10 in the deck, the greater the risk that the croupier will go bust. This is the basis of card counting for blackjack. A player can raise his or her bet when the player knows the casino has a lower chance of winning. Clever players who can count cards are known as counters and can gain an advantage of up to 2.5% over the casino when they use card counting in conjunction with the basic strategy. The foundation of the card counting technique is monitoring the cards that have been dealt. Bets are increased once specific values are exceeded.
Simple method for counting cards in blackjack
Even beginners can understand and learn the simple method. It's based on counting ten-point cards in a deck compared to the number of remaining lower value cards. The higher the number of remaining high value cards, the higher the probability that the player will have a good combination and that the croupier will bust (the croupier must hit until it has at least 16). Conversely, the higher the number of remaining low value cards, the greater the croupier's advantage. This is easy to remember as one third of cards have a value of ten + aces, which are easy to remember as well. If more than 1/3 of all "ten" cards remain in the deck or a lot of aces, you should double your bet. In the opposite case, the player should decrease his or her bet by half.
Standard card counting in blackjack
The standard method for counting cards in blackjack more precisely defines the ratio between high and low cards during the game. Every card is assigned a number and the total is assessed as follows when the cards are dealt:
- +1 for low cards: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
- 0 for cards: 8 and 9
- -1 for cards with a value of 10
- -2 for Aces
More high value cards with a value of 10 remain in the deck if the total for a given deal is positive. More low value cards remain if the total for a given deal is negative. The higher the positive total, the greater the probability that the croupier will bust and the player can raise his or her bet. The croupier's chance is higher as the negative count increases. Decisions are made purely based on the calculated total of dealt cards. Your total bet cannot be affected by the past performance, i.e. if you have been winning or losing. This is the only way to gain the maximum from this blackjack strategy. At the same time you have to learn how to count cards automatically and quickly so that the croupier does not see you doing so.
Professional method for counting cards in blackjack
The professional method for counting cards is not new. It is simply a more precise and perfected version of the standard method. It allows a precise probability to be defined at any point during a game and allows you to recognize the best strategy at every step. The results of this method are generally the best over the long-term, but mastery of the strategy is difficult and successful use in practice requires long and detailed study and a range of experience. There isn't sufficient space here to completely explain and understand this method; we recommend studying professional literature, which you can find online.
Advantages and disadvantages of counting cards in blackjack
Right at the start it’s important to state that card counting cannot be used in online casinos based on the shuffling of all cards in the deck for every game. In a brick and mortar casino, players who count cards are not welcome and various measures are taken in order to prevent them from playing. These players attempt to hide in the crowd, frequently change tables, avoid certain casinos and often try to appear as random tourists or occasional players.