About counting cards in blackjack


Anyone who's watched Rainman or Hangover knows a bit about counting cards in blackjack.

If a players are able to to keep a running tally of the cards in the deck, then a gamblers will know when to bet heavily, and when to hold off on their bets.

Usually, card counters assign a number to the cards of all players playing at the table: ace, king, queen, jacks and 10's count as minus one for each instance showing.

Meanwhile, low cards, two through sixes, get a plus one.

Seven through nine cards are ignored.


Using this hi-lo system, if the count is plus three, that means that the remaining cards will have a preponderance of aces through 10s.

In this case player is very likely to draw hands of 21, which pays out 3 to 2, or at the very least 20.

And since the dealer has to hit every time, they have 16 or less, it means a lot of busts for the dealer.

On the other hand, if the count is -3, that is very bad for the player.

The dealer will frequently get 21 or less when drawing a third card, and there will be many poor hands for the player to choose whether to draw or not.

Casinos don't like card counters, because it reduces the house edge considerably, and if you are too obvious about it, the casino will simply ask you to take your business elsewhere.

Chances are you will be banned.

But in addition to ejecting card counters, physical casinos make it difficult to count by:

  • 1, Using multiple decks, which skews the advantage of card counting with a single or double deck
  • 2. Using continuously automatic shuffle machines which pretty much make card counting worthless

Thus, card counting is technically feasible in a Las Vegas-style casino but virtually impossible in most online casinos, who, with rare exception, use continuous card shufflers.

Some online casinos don't even have dealers, although most do show a CCTV camera of a physical dealer dishing out the cards.

For those who have no dealer, the card values are generated by computerized random number generators, which again makes care counting impossible.

What's the next best strategy for blackjack success?

We have one, which is to increase your odds of beating the house?


By playing fewer hands.

Let's say you have a thousand euros to bet on blackjack.

You could make one bet for a thousand euros, 20 bets at 50 euro each, or 100 bets at 10 euros a hand.

From a purely mathematical sense, your best bet would be to make the one bet, which would see you either winning a thousand euro (1500 if you get blackjack) or losing a thousand euro.

The problem with that is that for most people, the smart bet isn't fun gambling.

One bet, win or lose and you're done?

Most players would say no thank you.

On the other hand, the house advantage will grind you away if you play 100 hands.

So the best bet would be to play 20 hands at a higher chip level, or perhaps 40 at the most.

Then quit.

Besides that, know and play basic strategy for blackjack, every single time.

It's the smart bet, and the best thing about playing online is the casino doesn't mind a gambler playing with a crib sheet next to them that assures the best playing strategy.

Lerato Dlamini

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