Your Complete Guide to Counting Cards in Blackjack


01/31/2013
By Debra SaundersGoogle
There are many strategies out there that claim to beat Blackjack. Many of these are a waste of time to learn and are simply out to make money by selling you a book or other marketing hype. One Blackjack strategy that has stood the test of time is called card counting.

To count cards does not mean you count how many cards left in the deck and try to guess what comes next. When you count cards, you are statically deducing what cards have dealt. You are also mathematically figuring out what the deck may contain. Some common misconceptions about card counting are that you can tell exactly what card will comes next. This would be nice if that were true, but the only way to achieve this is by outright cheating.

So how does card counting work?

A deck of cards consist of 52 cards and 4 of each value. You have 2 through 10 and your face cards. These will be the Jacks, Queens, Kings and Aces. When you count cards you assign each card a value. Cards 2 through 6 are given a +1 value. Cards Jack through Ace is given a -1 value. And, cards 7-9 are counted as zero.
For each card dealt you will start to add or subtract for your starting point of zero. If a 2 is dealt you will add 1. If a 9 is dealt you keep the count the same. If a ten is dealt, you would subtract 1. After time you will start to come up with a number that is either negative or positive. If the count is negative, this means more high cards have been dealt and the remaining cards in the deck will be more low values.

In blackjack, you want to have the deck full of high cards. This will give you better starting hands are increase your chances of winning. When the count you have is in the negative, your chances of winning will be lower since the low value cards are not as good. This means you change your bet sizing to offset this poor probability of winning.
On the flip side, when the count is in the positive, this means the deck will have more high cards making more advantages for the player. When the count is positive, you want to increase your bet sizing to take advantage of this.



To show how card counting works in real time lets use an example to help betterunderstand how it works.

You always start the count at zero and work your up or down form there. You are dealt a 2 which counts as +1. This gives you a count of +1. The dealer is dealt a 9 which counts as zero. Your count remains at +1. Your second card is an Ace which counts as -1 so now your count is zero. The dealer’s second card is an Ace as well which counts as -1 giving you a count of -1.

You take a hit and are dealt a Ten. Since the Ten is -1, your count is now -2. The dealer takes a card which is a Ten as well. Again a Ten is -1, so now your count is -3.
Once the next hand is dealt you keep the same count and go from there. You never start over at zero. You must keep counting for all hands dealt for this to be effective.
Another important note about card counting is that you will not start to utilize the count until you have gone through the deck some. A typical Blackjack table will use up to 6 decks of cards. This will give you a total of 312 cards at any given time. If you only saw 5 of these cards, you will not have a good count. You want to wait until you have seen a fair percentage of the cards dealt out.

Summary

In card counting you assign each card a value and start at zero. You work up or down the count based on what is being dealt. Once you have seen a fair number of cards dealt out, you begin to place smaller or larger bets based on your count. A count that is in the negative means more low cards are in the deck and your bets should be smaller since this deck is bad for you. A count with a positive number means more high cards are left and best should be larger.


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