Rules and Strategy

How to Count Cards in Blackjack

blackjack card counting

So, what are the basics of card counting in blackjack? Well, this is what we are going to take a look at now. By the time you get to the bottom of this article, we are certain that you will know all there is to know about card counting. You should then try out your new skills on some Free Blackjack Games before you start to play for real money.

  1. Cards with a value of 2-6 should be assigned a +1, cards that have a value of 10-A should be assigned a -1, while cards 7-9 should be given a value of 0
  2. When the dealer starts dealing, you can start counting depending on which cards are being taken from the deck
  3. Once the round is finished, if you have a positive count it means that the cards remaining in the pack are large cards. If this is the case, you should increase your wager
  4. If you have a negative count at the end of the round, it means that the cards in the pack are small cards. In this case, you should decrease your wager
  5. In short, you bet more if you have a positive count, and less if you have a negative one.

Basic Card Counting Strategy

When you are counting cards, you need to assign a value to each card. For cards numbered 2-6, you should assign a value of +1. For cards numbered 7-9, you should assign a value of 0. Any card with a 10-A on it should be assigned a value of -1.

When the round is about to begin, the dealer will shuffle the pack of cards. When the dealer deals a card, you should +1, -1, or do nothing depending on the value of the card. If you have a positive running total after the round, it is an indication that most of the undealt cards are large cards and you have to increase your wager. If you have a negative running total, it indicates that the undealt cards are small cards and you have to lower your wager. To put it simply, you should bet more when the count is positive and less when it is negative.

Let us provide you with an example to help make things even clearer. Let us pretend that you are sitting down enjoying a Game of Blackjack and the first player receives a 3, 6, and 10, which gives them a total of 19 - they stand of course. You would have to +1 for the 3 card, +1 for the 6 and -1 for the 10 card. At this stage, your count is going to be +1. You continue to do this for each hand (including the hand that the dealer has) until the round has come to an end.

Card ValuesCount Values
2, 3, 4, 5 and 6+1
7, 8 and 90
10, Ace and Face Cards-1

The more positive the number, the greater your edge will be. Therefore, the higher your number, the bigger your next bet should be. As you have probably guessed, the more negative the number, the smaller your edge will be. Therefore, the lower your number, the smaller your next wager should be.

So, how does this give you an advantage over the house? Well, the normal house edge for blackjack is 0.5%, which is quite low. However, if you learn how to count cards in blackjack like a professional, you can get yourself a 1% advantage over the house. This might not seem that high, but it really can make all the difference. So, you can see why the blackjack card counting strategy has become so popular.

As per Colin Jones founder of Blackjack Apprenticeship "Counting cards is simple, but can take time to master."

Are There Alternative Card Counting Strategies?

The card counting strategy that we have just described above is known as the Hi-Lo card counting strategy. It is not the only card counting strategy that is available to use - there are some more complex ones. We are now going to take a look at some of these below.

Simplified Wong Halves

This is a balanced card counting system which means that when the dealer has dealt the whole deck, the card count should stand at 0. This strategy uses fractions, but we have modified it by doubling up all of the values to get rid of the fractions. Why have we done this? Well, it is a lot easier to count whole numbers than fractions. In the table below you will be able to see what value you should give to each card.

Card ValuesCount Values
3, 4 and 6+2
2 and 7+1
5+3
80
9-1
10, Ace and Face Cards-2

Multiple Decks Card Counting System (True Count)

Casinos know the advantages of card counting, which is why they are always trying to come up with ways to make it a lot harder for players to do so. One way that they try to do this is by making use of multiple decks. In theory, this will make it a lot harder for players to keep track of the total. However, if you are facing a dealer that is using multiple decks to try and counter card counting, you can still make use of the aforementioned Hi-Lo strategy. All that you have to remember to do is divide your count by the total number of decks remaining. By doing this, you will get what is known as a true count. For instance, if your total is 6 and there are two decks left, the true count will be 3.

Blackjack Card Counting in a Nutshell

The blackjack card counting strategy is a popular one among blackjack players. If you manage to perfect your card counting techniques, then you can end up increasing your chances of winning quite dramatically. Our Editor Tom says "Many people think that you have to be some sort of maths genius or have a great memory in order to use card counting systems, but this is not the case. Even if you are not very good at maths or you have a really bad memory, you can still learn how to count cards in blackjack and improve your odds of winning".

Since you're still with us, we're sure that you want to improve further your chances of winning at blackjack. Therefore we invite you to visit our Blackjack Strategy page and see yourself dominating the Casino.

Blackjack Card Count FAQs

Below you will find 6 questions that people regularly ask about blackjack card counting.

❓ Does Blackjack Card Counting Still Work?

The fact that casinos will go to great lengths to ensure that none of their blackjack players can card count is a sure sign that blackjack counting is a strategy that still works. For example, they might add another deck or two to the shoe or instruct their dealers to shuffle more. If it did not work, they would not bother coming up with countermeasures.

❓ How Does Card Counting in Blackjack Work?

In order to card count when playing blackjack, you need to assign a worth to each card that is dealt. This will be a +1 for cards 2-6, a 0 for cards 7-9, and -1 for cards 10-A. At the end of each round, you increase your bet if the count is positive and decrease your wager if the count is negative.

❓ Does Card Counting Really Work in Blackjack?

Card counting is a strategy that definitely works, and it is something that can lose casinos big bucks. Casinos have plenty of measures in place to try and counter card counting, which is something that they would obviously not bother to do if it did not affect them so much.

❓ Is It Hard to Count Cards?

Many people are put off from trying to count cards because they feel that it is too hard to do and that you have to have a great memory and be very good at maths too. However, this is not the case. Anyone can learn how to card count if they put their mind to it.

❓ Is Card Counting Illegal?

Card counting is not technically illegal, but it is something that casinos look down upon. If the casino that you are playing at finds out that you have been card counting, then you run the risk of being kicked out. You could also find yourself banned from that particular casino. So, the best thing that you can do is not get caught.

❓ How Do Casinos Know You Are Counting Cards?

Casinos can end up losing a lot of money when professional card counters are betting at their blackjack tables, especially if they are working in a team. Therefore, they train each dealer to spot the signs of a card counter. For instance, card counting takes concentration, so if everyone at the table is speaking to each other but one person is not, there is a good chance that the dealer will suspect that he is card counting. Furthermore, if a player’s bets vary drastically, the dealer will get suspicious.

Barry Howard Blackjack Veteran @ Casino Bonuses Index

Have you enjoyed reading this article? Go ahead and share it!