Card Counting Penetration and True Count Explained

So you know what card counting can do for you on the blackjack tables. You may also know how to count cards already. But there is more you need to learn. This page explains two terms used in this technique: card counting penetration and the true count.

This article assumes a basic knowledge of blackjack card counting. Penetration and true count are concepts you need to know to further refine your technique to make it more useful.

Deck Penetration


Card counting penetration is the knowledge gained about a deck through card counting. Naturally, the more cards that you have counted, the deeper the penetration and the more accurate it is. If you have gone through most of the deck, there are fewer cards left and you have a very good idea what they are.

To illustrate, let's say you are counting 20 black and 20 white balls. When you know you have gotten 15 black balls and 8 white balls, you know that most of the 17 balls left are white. Therefore it is more likely you will get a white more often.

It is the same with card counting. The fewer cards that are left in the deck or shoe, the better you know what they are.

When counting cards, you want to start just after the shuffle. Now if a casino wants to reduce the chances of a count getting high, they can "cut off" a part of the shoe and use only part of it say (3 out of 6 decks) before shuffling a new. This is bad because the more cards that are played, the more likely the count will get high. This is poor penetration. If the casino does not give good penetration, save your time and play elsewhere. Good penetration is indispensable to successful card counting.

The True Count

The true count is the "true" advantage (or lack thereof) that you have. It takes into account the number of decks or size of the deck left to be dealt. This is how you do it:

Divide the count by the deck(s). For example, if your count is +6 but there are 3 decks left, you get +2. That is your true count, your true advantage.

Now if the count were +6 and there was just 1/2 of a deck left, that's +12. Your true advantage is 12!

This is the method of obtaining the true count with the High/Low system. Other card counting systems use different methods but this is the easiest and simplest. Knowing the true count is essential for success in card counting. So make sure you learn how to use this technique.

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