Card counting in Blackjack is a mathematical system that ensures long term success playing the game. By memorizing the cards dealt out, a player can use probability to calculate the remaining cards in the pack. That gives players an edge over the dealer and other players. A successful card counter can memorize tables of numbers and countdown a desk quickly. Apart from that, they have to win without drawing attention as many casinos disallow card counting. A card counter can expect a 0.5% to 1.5% advantage, and the bankroll can go up and decrease in the short run. However, in the long run, you can win with card counting.

Basic Blackjack Strategy

Card counting can only work if the player has an in-depth knowledge of basic blackjack strategy. Without that, it is highly ill-advised to try card counting. Experienced blackjack players always use basic strategy most of the time. There is no avoiding that as it forms a firm foundation for card counting.

The Shoe

There are typically six to eight card decks in shoe for casino blackjack. The dealer gives out cards until the shoe is about 75% empty before reshuffling. If you can track which cards emerge from the shoe during play, you’ll have a pretty good idea which cards remain. That information can assist the player since individual cards in the deck are better for players, while others for the dealer. High-value cards generally favour players, and small cards the dealer. For instance, fours and fives are better for dealers, tens and aces for players. The last two cards provide unique options for players who can take advantage of them. They create more blackjacks paying 3-2 for players; however, if the dealer gets a blackjack, he only wins the player’s bet. A player can choose to stand on hands if they are below 17; the dealer cannot and will likely bust more frequently in shoes rich in tens.

Tens and Aces

A player does better on double downs, and he will be happy with a ten and an ace. Moreover, if the deck is rich enough in tens, a player can take insurance and surrender with more confidence when the dealer has a strong hand. Everything works better for the player when the deck is full of tens and aces. Card counters learn how to take advantage of cards remaining on the deck. They can take out insurance based on the cards remaining in the shoe. They may deviate from basic strategy if their card counting suggests. Players can bet more money when they have the advantage and less when the odds favour the dealer.

Card Counting Systems

There are many card counting systems, including Ace-Five Counting System, which is the most straightforward system to learn. There are Hi-Lo Counting Systems, Speed Count, Unbalanced Counting Systems, The Knock-Out Count, Revere Counts, The Zen Count, and Wong Halves. They vary from easy, such as Ace-Five and Hi-Lo, to complicated, like Wong Halves. However, most share a few common traits. Cards that are good for players to get negative values, while those that are bad get positive. With most systems, that number divides by the approximate number of cards remaining in the deck to get an accurate count. That tells the player how rich the remaining shoe is in sound cards. The player uses that true count to decide how much to bet on a hand and whether to take insurance if the dealer shows an ace.

The count occasionally tells players when to abandon basic strategy and play a hand differently, based on the fact that the deck’s remaining components have changed the odds favouring an alternative style of play. Some card counting systems advocate that players keep a separate side count of aces since they have an entirely different effect on the game than others. While players may be tempted to bet more when there are lots of aces available, they don’t have such an impact on how you should play hands as tens. Therefore, more complex systems will keep an ace count independent of an overall count to make this distinction.

What’s the Trade-Off?

That brings up an important point, as there is a trade-off when choosing card counting systems. More complicated systems tend to offer greater potential rewards but come with a higher risk. Players are far more likely to make a mistake when keeping track of extra information. A couple of errors can be enough to negate the player’s advantage. Suppose there’s a choice between using a more straightforward system you’ve mastered or a more complex system you’re unsure about using. In that case, it’s almost always better to pick the simple method, even if the more complex system promises a more significant edge against the house.