How to Learn Card Counting in Blackjack

Card counting is a technique used in blackjack to gain a slight advantage over the casino. All casino games have a built-in house edge that ensures that on average you are expected to lose at least some of your money when you play. The longer you play a casino game, the more likely you will lose. But with card counting, the odds can shift to the player's favor and this is why casinos try to prevent players from using this technique.

Counting cards is based on the principle that high-ranked cards are good for the player and bad for the dealer, and the reverse is true for low-ranked cards. So with card counting, you will track which cards have been used and which still remain in the deck/shoe. When there is more of the cards you want (high cards), you can wager more. If there is more of the cards you do not want (low cards), you can wager less. You can also use this knowledge to decide if you’d better hit another card or stay.

Card counting is not easy. It takes lots of practice to master it. This page shows you how to learn card counting step by step.

Card Counting Step One - Learn Basic Blackjack Strategy

It is essential to know blackjack strategy if you want to profit from card counting. Without it, you would not profit from just counting cards. A blackjack strategy sheet tells you what to do (stand, hit, etc.) based on what your cards and the dealer's up card are. Do not go further until blackjack strategy becomes second-nature to you. To make it easier, practice with free blackjack software at home.

Card Counting Step Two - Learn the High/Low Card Count

This is basic card counting. When cards 2-6 come up, you count +1. When cards 7-9 come up, you ignore them. With 10, face cards and aces, you count -1. The higher the score of your count, the better for you because that means that the remaining cards in the deck score high.

Now take a deck of cards and deal out one card at a time. Start your count at zero. Begin counting with each card that is dealt.

If you get:

6, 3, A, 7, J, 10, 5

you count as:

0, +1, +2, +1, +1, 0, -1, 0

When you are through with the deck, your final count must be zero. If it is not zero, you have made a mistake. Keep practicing until you can do it flawlessly in about 40 seconds.

Now practice dealing two cards at once and count them too. Learn to ignore cards that even out the score to save time and effort. That is, if you see a 10 and a 2, you know that is a -1 and +1 respectively so they cancel each other out. Ignore them instead of doing more unnecessary counting.

When you can count 3-4 cards simultaneously, you are ready to count in casino.

Card Counting Step Three - Convert to True Count

This is simple conversion to take into account the number of decks in the game. Since card counting saw the light of day in the 1960s, most casinos have stopped using single decks. They now use multiple decks or a "shoe" for each blackjack game.

Here you simply convert the card count by dividing with the number of unused decks in the shoe. If the count is +10 and the unused decks are 2, the "true" count is 5.

Card Counting Step Four - Adjust Your Bets

This is best practiced with blackjack software. When the count is in your favor, say +9, you should increase your bets. When the count is not in your favor, say -3 or 0, you must decrease your bets. This is how to count cards in blackjack effectively.

That's it!

With lots of practice, you can prepare yourself for card counting in a real casino!

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