Blackjack Card Counting Strategies

October 24, 2010

Straight (simple) card counting in blackjack is somewhat a thing of the past. And for the most part people feel that card counting is old school and were only a benefit when casino’s and backroom parlors used one or two decks. Now day’s players are faced with 6-8 decks. As discussed in an earlier article we touched briefly  on the card counting aspect. But now, you can still apply these techniques at home games, or watch for when a casino’s deck is getting near the end of a shoe.

This short essay will break down the basic concepts; anyone can become a card counter. The most important aspect is concentration and you also have to have a decent grasp on math.

The Hi-Lo count system assigns simple values to a group of cards. The following values are given to the cards.

Low Cards 2-3-4-5-6 obtain a value of             +1

No Count Cards 7-8-9 receive no count             0

High Cards 10-J-Q-K-A obtain a value of         -1

Now let’s have a look at the sets:

Low Cards are not that good for the player. Low card’s turn bad totals into good hands: i.e. dealer has 12-16 a low card can turn those into 17-21 rather quickly. There is nothing worse than a dealer drawing to 15-16 and then nailing a 6 or a 5 to bust everyone.

No Count Cards – a lot of people ask me why not count the 7-8-9, simple answer is that these cards do not help the dealer nor the player so are assigned a value of zero.

High Cards -These cards are great for the player but not so great for the dealer. High cards aide in achieving your 21 and also help bust the dealer.

People often ask, what makes it easier for the player when there is 1 deck compared to 6-8 decks? Simply put casinos implemented additional decks to the shoe in order to scare off card counters.  Early on this did diminish the edge the counter had, however professional counters began working in teams to get around the increase  in the number of cards per shoe. Casino’s further complicated the process by what is known as ‘deck penetration’. This is basically a percentage of the shoe that it dealt before it is re-shuffled. Most casinos’ use a cut off card and deal anywhere from 60-75%.

So the cards are dealt, when you see a low card you add a point, for every low card that comes off, you gain an advantage over the dealer. When this number gets high, we know that we are going to get a run of good cards very soon and should bet accordingly. The opposite when the card count is in the high negative

If a player can concentrate and maintain the count there is still a profitability edge to the player. This is based on the number of decks in the shoe, the percentage of cut off.

So you have all the info you need to get started.  All that is left for you to do it practice the method. An excellent software application to simulate black jack games that can help you hone your skills is here. Keep track of the count. It is very important that you try to get good at the count as well make it look like you are not trying to count. This can be difficult. Have fun.

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