Blackjack Card Counting for Dummies

What is blackjack card counting?

Getting as much math out of the way as possible, card counting is a blackjack strategy by which one keeps track of the ratio of good cards to bad cards in a deck. By good is meant cards that are better for the player, and bad means the opposite. The more good players left in the deck (i.e. not drawn), the better for the card counter. When the card counter realizes that there are more good card remaining in the deck than bad ones, they can raise their bets proportionally to win more.

Generally, low value cards 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are treated as bad cards. 7, 8 and 9 are neutral. Face cards, 10 and aces are good cards. This is because with high cards on the deck, there are bigger chances of a blackjack for the player as well as the dealer (who has no choice) going bust.

Where did blackjack card counting begin?

The mathematician and physicist Edward Thorp is considered to be the father of modern card counting and other gambling tactics based on arithmetic. Although other gamblers had counted cards before, it was his book "Beat the Dealer" (1962) that gave the casinos a run for their money. In fact, casinos felt so threatened by Thorp's system that they were forced to abandon single, hand-held decks and started using multiple or shoe-decks for blackjack. This makes the work a little harder for card counters, but not impossible.

Is card counting illegal?

No. However card counting in blackjack is frowned upon the casinos for obvious reason. Casinos have even gone so far as to hire private detective services to track down players who might be card counting. Griffin Investigations was one such company. They even published a book with pictures of card counters and cheaters in it.

While you are in no danger of going to jail, it is better for you to disguise your card counting well. Don't be too quiet while playing, and try not to appear too observant.

How do I learn card counting?

First, pick a simple counting system like the Hi-Lo system. In this system, cards 2-6 are counted as +1, 7-9 are 0 and 10-A are -1.

Now go through and count one card at a time.

Start with 0. For every +1 card, you add 1 point to the total score. For every - 1 card, you deduct 1 form it. When you count all 52 cards in a deck in this way, you should end up with 0.

When you can do this easily, count 3-4 cards at a time.

Time yourself. When can count 3-4 cards in less than a minute, you are ready for card counting in a casino.

When you are up in card counting, don't forget to raise your bets! Good luck!

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