Counting Cards in Blackjack

Blackjack is a popular card game, loved by most for its fast-paced play full of anticipation. There is also a substantial chance to win; and the best part – it is not all based on luck. Blackjack card counting has been around for some time now, made famous by Hollywood movies, but can it really be that easy? Hopefully, after reading our guide to counting cards, you will have all you need to start practicing the art of counting cards.

How to Count Cards Blackjack

Counting Cards in Blackjack - How to Count Cards Blackjack

So, even if you’re new to counting cards or blackjack, you’ll be able to follow our guide. We have broken down all that you’ll need to do in 4 easy to follow steps, each one explained in detail. 

Step 1: Assign Values

Of course, we are counting. You will first have to assign a value to each card. It might sound like a lot of work, but the assigned values are actually broken up into 3 different categories that are easy to remember.

  • -1 – assigned to all cards from 10 to Ace;
  • 0 – assigned to all cards from 7 to 9; 
  • +1 – assigned to all cards 2 – 6.

You will do this as cards around the table are given out. Yes, it can be a bit overwhelming, especially if it is your first time to practice this method. Don’t sweat it. Every time you practice, you will see how you improve.

Step 2: Keep a Running Count

After assigning values, you’ll need to keep a count going. It can be done after each new card is dealt. The most expert of counters usually do this for the entire game, keeping track in their head as each card comes out of the shoe. Blackjack counting gives you a clear idea of what type of bet you should make. The higher the total running count at the end, the more in your favor the odds will tilt.

Step 3: Seek Truth in Count

It should come as no surprise that casinos have a tactic in place to try and throw off card counters. Most casinos frown upon any counting, and some even will kick out or ban players from ever coming back. To try and make it more challenging to count and keep track of the cards, casinos started to add decks of cards into the mix. Nice try! It is where a bit of simple math comes in handy, helping you calculate the ‘true count.’ The latter is basically the running count divided by the number of decks left in the shoe. Knowing or estimating the number of decks is a good way to discover what your next move should be. For instance, if your running count after a few rounds is 10, and you know that there are 5 decks in play, the equation would be 10 ÷ 5, so the true count is 2. The higher up the true count (think above -1), the better the odds are that you have a good hand and will be able to beat the dealer.

Step 4: Adjust your Bet Accordingly

The last thing you’ll want to do when you count cards in blackjack is to adjust your bet according to the final true count that you calculate. If the true count turns out to be a negative number, you’ll want to bet very little, with it taking a good dose of luck to beat the dealer. As it rises from negative and past zero, you’ll want to start betting big, with your chances of having the upper hand increasing. Apart from giving you a good idea of how to bet, keeping an eye on true count can also help with bankroll management, keeping you from spending too much.

Why does Card Counting Work?

Counting Cards in Blackjack - Why does Card Counting Work?

As we said, it’s simple. In just 4 simple steps, you’ll be able to have a better idea of your next move and where you stand compared to the dealer. But why should you practice it and does it work? Actually, it works very well. When you execute the counting process properly, it basically acts as a guide keeping you from making bad betting decisions. The reason it works takes just a bit of thinking. When casinos add decks, the odds tilt further in favor of the house, adding more chances to hit blackjack. The likelihood that dealers will bust with multiple decks is slim to none. Knowing what cards are left in a deck reveals what cards will most likely come out, helping to make bets better. Yes, it could seem like a lot to take in from first glance but, the truth is it only takes some getting used to. It is practical and has led to successful players bringing in millions.