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Blackjack Card Counting System

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First of all you probably ask how to count cards in Blackjack, right? Well here is a Blackjack card counting system that will allow you to get an advantage when you are visiting a casino. Notice that it is not an online casino but a land-based casino. This is because online casinos shuffle the cards after each round when playing Blackjack. So you must be at a live casino before the card counting strategy can work.

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Card counting for Video Blackjack is not difficult to learn. In fact, I think learning the theory of card counting is much easier than memorizing basic strategy. By the end of this section, you will know how to count cards. And you will be able to do so much more easily than a regular blackjack player because you won't have the added distractions of the other players, the dealers and the paranoid pit crews to cope with. Even video-blackjack games that deal just one round are susceptible to card counting—especially machines that allow you to play multiple hands. Thus, learning how to count cards is an important skill if you want victory at video blackjack.

You need to learn the basic rules of Blackjack before you try to learn how to count cards. The Blackjack card counting technique is not a popular system at the casinos, since it gives the player an advantage to win at the live casinos, so you will need to be discreet when you use the Blackjack strategy.  It is actually not difficult to remember how to count cards, but the skill is to do it quickly. - This is how the Blackjack system looks like: ● The numbers 2-6 in a deck of cards will have the value: +1 ● The numbers 7-9 have the value: 0 ● Number 10 and all the picture cards and the ace have the value: -1 The way the card counting strategy works now is that once the dealer gives a card you must focus on the value of the card, so you will be able to make a result in your head once the dealer is done. Here is an example: 1. The game is as following: 3 players and of cause the dealer. The dealer gives 2 cards to each player; let’s say you receive a 2 and a 4. The other players receive 7, king, 8 and an ace (just random cards). 2. The situation is like this: -     Player 3: An 8 and an ace. 3. 

Now we must put the value together: -     A 7 (zero) and a king (-1) = +2 -1 = +1 (since the zero is just being ignored). -     An 8 (zero) and an ace (-1) = +1 -1 = 0 4. We are now back at the beginning (zero). This means there is an equal chance to receive good cards or bad cards. Every time the value goes above zero, the chance will increase to get higher and better cards. If the number is +5 it means some of the low cards (2,3,4,5,6) have been eliminated and there is a better chance to hit some of the high cards. 5. Now it is up for the player to decide whether he wants to use the card counting system to his advantage. Once there is a better chance to hit the high cards, the player should bet more and bet less when the value goes below zero. The Blackjack card counting strategy was also immortalized in the film 21 from 2008 starring actors like Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey.

In Blackjack you have to hit the value of 21 from the different cards. - 2-9 (same value as the number) - Ace (1 or 11 depending on if you cross the 21 limit) - Hit: (Player decision) The dealer gives you a card. - Stand: (Player decision) You choose not to receive a card. - Bust: (Player decision) When you’re overall value is higher than 21 you lose. - Split: (Player decision) Can only be chosen as the first decision. You can split your cards if you receive 2 cards of the same value. This means you will be playing 2 hands instead of 1. But your bet will have to be doubled as well. After this decision you can choose to either hit or stand. - Double down: (Player decision) Only available as the first decision. The player can choose to increase the bet by doubling the original bet.

If chosen, the dealer only grants you one more card before you must stand. - Blackjack: (Term) You get Blackjack once you hit the value of 21. This can be done by either having numbers like; 10, 9 and 2 or by getting a picture card and an ace. If you receive a picture card along with an ace some casinos will offer you the double of your payment + half of your payment as well meaning a profit of 150%. If the dealer gets a Blackjack at the same time, you will retrieve your bet without a loss or a profit. - Insurance: (Player decision) If the dealers faced up card is an ace the player can prefer to make an insurance. This means that if the dealer hits a picture card and receives a Blackjack, the player will regain the bet’s amount. But the insurance costs you the half of your bet and if the dealer does not hit a Blackjack, you lose your insurance but the other half from your original bet will continue to be played. - Surrender: (Player decision) Only available as first decision. The player decides to surrender and lose half the bet but retrieving the other half. (Only some casinos offer this option). - Hard/Soft hand: (Term) A soft hand is where the ace has the value of 11, while a hard hand is where the ace has the value of 1. Soft example: Ace + 6 = 17. Hard example: Ace + 10 + 6 = 17. 1: The dealer gives each player 2 cards and 1 for himself. After this the player can choose one of the above player decisions.

Once you have received the number of cards you want (unless you get bust) the dealer will take his turn and deal out cards for his own hand. The dealer must continue to add cards until he reaches the amount of at least 17. This means the dealer must hit on 16 (and below) and stand on 17 (and above). 2: If neither the player nor the dealer gets 21 it will be the one with the highest value that wins. Of cause the player must remember not to go above 21, or they will be bust and the same with the dealer. The dealer’s Blackjack will beat the player’s Blackjack if the player’s Blackjack is a value of 21 from 3 or more cards. If the dealer and the player have the same value, the player will retrieve the bet. Note: The winnings will be the double of the bet. Example: Player bets 10$ and gets 20$ from the winnings. Profit = 10$.

Card Counting Theory

The theory of card counting is quite simple: big cards favor the players, small cards favor the dealer-in-the-machine. This is a fact backed up by tens of millions of computer runs over four decades of blackjack study. Thus, as the game is progressing, if the deck contains more big cards (10s and aces) because more little cards have been played, it will be to the player's advantage. Whereas if the deck contains more little cards (twos through sixes), it will favor the dealer-in-the-machine. Of course, having a deck favor you is not the same as a guaranteed win, nor is having an unfavorable deck a guaranteed loss. However, in the long run analysis of blackjack, the player will win more hands when the decks contain high cards than he will lose, and he will lose more hands when the decks contain low cards than he will win.

Card counting systems take advantage of this fact in four ways:

  1. All card counting systems keep track of the relationship of small cards to big cards in the remaining deck.

  2. When the cards remaining in the deck favor the player, the player will bet larger sums of money. When the cards remaining in the deck favor the casino, the player will bet smaller amounts or the minimum amount allowed.

  3. Certain changes to basic strategy are made based on the "count" that increase a player's advantage or decrease his disadvantage when playing certain hands.

  4. The use of the insurance option now becomes viable at certain times, even in single-round games.

If you have decided to learn how to count cards, you have another big decision to make. What card counting system will you use? There are literally dozens of different counting systems on the market, some selling for upwards of $295. To make matters worse, most of the card counting systems are good! There are card counting systems that keep track of every card in the deck; there are systems that are four level systems—that is, cards are assigned a value of +1 to +4 (and -1 to -4); there are three- and two-level systems. Some are so difficult and so elaborate that only a genius could play them. Some are so simple that mere mortals (you and me) can play them.

You are lucky for, unlike me, you don't have to attempt to play a representative sampling of all these systems before deciding which to choose. I did. I've played three-level counts, two-level counts and one-level counts with side counts of aces and fives. They all work.

Unfortunately, for me, they all work about as well as the simplest and easiest to learn and use—a one-level count, called the Hi-Lo Count, that only follows certain cards. Recent research, and blackjack is a well-researched game, has shown that there isn't much difference in performance between a good one-level count and a good multi-level count. The only real difference is the level of difficulty in learning and executing the multi-level as opposed to the single-level counts. So why bother wasting time learning a more difficult count when its advantage over a simpler count is minuscule?

So the count we'll deal with will be the Hi-Lo.

Card Values

Here are the card values in the Hi-Lo counting system.

As you are playing, if more small cards are coming out of the deck, you have what is called a positive count. If more large cards are coming out of the deck, you have what is called a negative count. After a round of play, if the count is positive, the next round should theoretically favor the player because a greater proportion of the large cards remain in the deck to be played. If the count is negative after a round of play, the next round favors the casino because a greater proportion of the small cards remain to be played.

Why do the large cards favor the player and small cards favor the house?

  1. Large cards make a blackjack more likely. Although the player and the dealer-in-the-machine have an equal chance of getting a blackjack, the player is paid off at three to two in some cases. In these cases, if a player gets one blackjack in one round of play and the dealer-in-the-machine gets one blackjack in another round of play, the player comes out ahead, assuming his bets were the same in both rounds. The converse is also true. With small cards remaining in the deck, a blackjack is less likely.

  2. Although the dealer-in-the-machine will get slightly better hands in a positive count (as will the player), when the dealer-in-the-machine has a bust hand (12 to 16), he is more likely to actually bust. The dealer-in-the-machine must hit his bust hands, but the player doesn't have to. In a negative count, the dealer-in-the-machine will hit his bust hand and is more likely to make a good hand because small cards are more likely to come out.

I want to reinforce what I said earlier. The fact that something is more likely to happen doesn't guarantee it will happen every time. When you count cards, you will have very high positive counts where the dealer-in-the-machine will draw to his bust hands and still get small cards. You will have negative counts where blackjacks appear—one after another. Over time, over the long run (whatever that is), what is more likely to happen will happen more often than what is less likely to happen.

Now, that you know the values of the cards, you have to hit upon a workable method for counting them. You have to keep a running count of the cards as they come out of the deck.

To become proficient, you have to put the practice in. Card counting is, as you have just seen, easy to understand, hard to actually do at first. However, once you master card counting, you never forget how to do it. Like riding a bike, counting cards and playing basic strategy can become second nature.

What should also become second nature are the variations in basic strategy required based on the count. There are literally hundreds of variations for both single and multiple-deck games. However, much like the numerous card-counting systems, memorizing hundreds of strategy variations will not yield you much value for your time. You are better off simply memorizing the few strategy variations for certain hands that occur with some regularity and in count ranges that you are more often likely to have. Thus, the following variations should be incorporated into your arsenal.

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