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Online Blackjack Card Counting

Play CasinoCard counting in Blackjack can be traced back to the 1950’s. Like most ideas and inventions there is some debate over who first came up with the idea of using a card counting formula to gain an edge at the Blackjack tables. The general consensus points to Edward Thorp, a mathematician author, professor, investor and a host of other titles. Thorp’s first book, Beat The Dealer, included the first major Blackjack card counting system: the 10 Count. Looking back it would be easy to call the 10 Count primitive and unnecessarily complicated, but at the time it was a masterpiece. This book came out in 1962 and the computers of the day were much slower than they are today. The computer Thorp used was much larger than a refrigerator and you would have to connect around 40,000 of them to match the computing power of an iPad. Despite this lack of technology Thorp created a working card counting system for Blackjack that was very successful for several years.

The Purpose & Benefits Of Counting Cards In Blackjack

It is a common misconception that card counters are extremely intelligent people that also possess a perfect memory. Another misconception is that card counters can tell you how many cards of each rank are left in the deck. The truth is much more practical and simple. Anyone that can memorize a simple chart, add single digit numbers, subtract single digit numbers and divide by single digit numbers can become a successful Blackjack card counter. The core principle behind the plethora of card counting methods and strategies is simple. These systems are designed to help you determine when you should increase or decrease your wager. Some players also use card counting methods to make minor changes to the actual strategy that they use to play Blackjack. This is much more difficult and should only be attempted by seasoned players that have been using card counting formulas for quite some time. The only other use for card counting systems in Blackjack relate to determining if an insurance bet should be made.

As a novice card counter you should only focus on the main application, determining when to raise and lower your wager. You will use the cards that have already been played to determine the composition of the cards remaining in the deck or shoe. Here are the primary scenarios found in a Blackjack game.

  • A fresh deck of cards or multiple decks (shoe): This is the start point in a game of Blackjack. The ratio between low cards and high cards is fixed. The dealer currently has a small advantage based on this ratio, but as the game progresses this ratio will change. Card counting will allow you to determine when the ratio has changed in a manner that puts you at an advantage or at an increased disadvantage.
  • Increased low card ratio – When the unused cards in a deck or a shoe have a higher than normal ratio of low cards it will increase the dealer’s edge. Low cards, especially 4’s, 5’s and 6’s, favor the dealer for several reasons.
  • Increased high card ratio – When the unused cards in a deck or a shoe have a higher than normal ratio of high cards it will give the edge to the player. High cards, especially 10-point cards and Aces, are much more beneficial to players than they are to the dealer.

The typical card counting strategy in Blackjack provides you with a simple method in which to determine if the remaining cards are neutral, dealer friendly or player friendly. When they favor the player increasing your wager is what ultimately gives you the edge. In every deck or shoe there will usually be periods that benefit the dealer and the player so if you made the same wager on every hand they would essentially cancel each other out which would result in the dealer maintaining the small edge that is built into the game of Blackjack.

The Best Card Counting Systems In Blackjack

Blackjack card counting systems can be classified into several categories; easy, moderate and difficult. Apart from the difficulty level they can also be categorized into two groups: balanced and unbalanced. If you use a balanced system to count an entire deck of cards the last card would always put the count at zero. This is not true for unbalanced systems. Unbalanced systems tend to be a little more complicated but not always. To keep things simple I will group the major card counting systems together based on how difficult they are to learn and use.

Easy Blackjack Card Counting Systems

  • KO Count
  • Hi Opt 1 System
  • High Low System
  • Red 7 Count
  • Revere Plus Minus Count
  • Moderate Blackjack Card Counting Systems:
  • Zen Count
  • Hi Opt 2 Count
  • Omega 2 Count
  • Unbalanced Zen Count 2

Difficult Blackjack Card Counting Systems

  • 10 Count
  • Revere Point Count
  • Wong Halves Count
  • Uston Advanced Count

In general, the more difficult card counting systems are also the most accurate. There are some exceptions to this rule though. The 10 Count for instance is very hard to implement, but is less accurate than some of the easy Blackjack card counting systems listed above. Some of these count systems, like the 10 Count, can only be used at Blackjack tables that use single decks. Casinos starting using multiple decks at their Blackjack tables to combat the effectiveness of the card counting systems listed above. Single deck Blackjack is hard to find these days, but I still recommend learning these systems because they are an excellent starting off point for novice card counters. The knowledge they impart can be your training wheels as you ride down the road that leads to Blackjack card counting mastery.

Is Counting Cards In Blackjack Legal?

You can thank some of the inventors of the card counting systems listed above for protecting players’ rights to use card counting strategies at the Blackjack tables. There have been several court cases in the U.S. regarding this. The courts correctly view card counting as a skill, not a method of cheating. Casinos tend to play by their own rules though. The security staff, pit bosses and dealers at a casino are constantly on the lookout for card counters. The telltale sign of card counting is the is a wide bet range. They use a wide range of counter-measures to deal with card counters. Here are a few of the methods that you may face when counting cards at a casinos.

  • Shuffling when a player increases his/her wager by a large amount.
  • Not allowing players to change their wager mid shoe.
  • Not allowing players to enter a game mid shoe. This counter-measure is directed at wonging, watch a game from the side lines and entered only when then count favors the player.

Casinos have developed advanced systems to spot card counters at their Blackjack tables. One system called MindPlay actually counts the cards and picks up on when a player bets more when the count is favorable.

Some U.S. states allow casinos to ban suspected card counters from the casino. Even if they cannot legally ban you the casinos will use some of the methods listed above, amongst others, to prevent you from gaining an edge at the Blackjack tables. Some card counters have even had casino staff continually engage them in conversation at the table with the obvious objective of breaking a player’s concentration.

There is only one thing that you should avoid at all costs when using a Blackjack card counting strategy. Never use any type of electronic device to aid in your counting. These are explicitly illegal and casinos have developed ways of detecting them. You could face huge fines and even jail time for doing this.

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