Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in the world as it offers the lowest house edge compared to all other titles. If you apply an appropriate strategy, the edge can go below 1%, but if you count cards, you can become the one to have the edge over the house. That’s why card counting is frowned upon by many casinos.
Before we start with this blackjack card counting guide, please consider that card counting can get you banned from online casinos. Therefore, make sure to be careful if you want to use this technique.
Let’s see how it works!
How Blackjack Card Counting Works
Whenever the dealer shuffles the deck, there’s an equal number of low and high cards. This is important to take into account, as high cards benefit the player, whereas low cards benefit the dealer.
The purpose of card counting for blackjack is to count how many high cards are left in the deck and make your bets accordingly.
Therefore, all you have to do when counting cards is assign a +1 tag to all low cards (2, 3, 4, 5, and 6), 0 tag for 7, 8, 9, and -1 tag for all high cards (10, J, Q, K, and A). Take into account that the blackjack card counting practice only applies to decks that are not shuffled. Whenever the dealer shuffles it, your count must reset to zero.
Here’s a short blackjack card counting chart that should help you remember how to tag card.
|2, 3, 4, 5, 6
|7, 8, 9
|10, J, Q, K, A
To give you a better idea of how the blackjack card counting system works, we’ll look at a practical example.
Let’s assume that a player had a four, five, and 10 — a total of 19, and decides to stand. Both four and five are added a +1 tag, but a 10 is added a -1 tag, meaning that your final result will be 1 + 1 – 1 = (+)1. The player who adds blackjack card counting values now continues this for every hand until the end of the round. If the values are high in the last couple of hands, the counter will increase their bets, increasing their possibility of having a winning hand.
In other words, the higher positive count means that players have a better chance of winning. A very high positive count means that the player now has a serious advantage over the dealer.
On the other hand, if the value is negative, players will back down in the last couple of hands, as the possibility of losing will become higher.
One Step Beyond — Online Blackjack Card Counting
As you already know, blackjack is also available in many online casinos. Apart from standard options, many casinos also have live dealer blackjack games, and both variations offer a great opportunity to learn blackjack card counting.
The beauty of online blackjack is that the chances of being caught that you’re counting cards are much lower compared to land-based casinos. How so?
Well, when you play in a land-based venue, you convey much more information than you do in an online environment. If you’re not a professional card player who could keep a poker face while counting cards, you could get caught. If that happens, you’ll not be able to use your blackjack card counting strategy in that casino anymore, as you’ll be added to the unwanted list.
But what about online casinos? If they notice that you’re counting cards, there’s a small chance that you can get banned. However, it’s much more difficult to spot a counter when you’re playing online. Even if you engage in online blackjack live card counting, live dealers still cannot see you (only you can see them), so it’s also highly unlikely that you’ll get noticed.
Books on Blackjack Card Counting
If you want to start playing blackjack like a real professional, you should take into account that the short blackjack card counting tutorial we described on this page is just the tip of an iceberg.
To master the art of counting cards, you need a lot of practice. Moreover, it’s always a great idea to read more about the game in some of the most popular books on how to play blackjack.
Perhaps the most popular book written about the game is Edward O. Thorp’s Beat the Dealer that offers a “winning strategy for the game of twenty-one.” Other great books to check out are The 21st Century Card Counter by Colin Jones, Professional Blackjack by Stanford Wong, and Knock-out Blackjack: The Easiest Card-counting System Ever Devised by Ken Fuchs and Olaf Vancura.
These are just some of the popular titles, as there are dozens of additional books you can check out. Once you feel confident enough, you can join an online casino and engage in live blackjack card counting to see how it works in practice.
Moreover, if you feel confident with your blackjack card counting online, you can even visit a land-based casino and try it out. It’s not legal to count cards in most casinos, but it’s worth taking the risk.
Other Blackjack Strategies
Blackjack card counting methods are popular, but they are not the only strategy you can use when playing this game. Casinos accept several strategies as they don’t give players the edge over the house — they just lower it.
If you like to play it safe, you can always try these other strategies and pick the one that you like the most. The most popular one comes with a strategy chart that shows what to do in every possible situation. If you learn this chart by heart, you can improve your blackjack success and lower the house edge below 1%.
Final Thoughts: Should You Count Cards?
Blackjack is both a game of skill and a game of chance, meaning that you’ll not be able to ensure victory every time. Simply put, the element of luck will always do its part, and some sessions might not end as good as others, no matter how great you are at card counting.
Nevertheless, if you learn blackjack card counting, you’ll still lower the house edge and perhaps even win more money in the long run. The real question here is — should you do it?
The answer is — yes, because the basics of blackjack card counting are easy to learn, and every blackjack player should be aware of all the possible strategies in this game. However, you should also be aware of the risk that it comes with.
Although not recognized as illegal by the state, casinos still reserve the right to ban you if they notice that you’re counting cards. Therefore, this strategy is mainly used by professionals who are not easy to see through.
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