How Card Counting Works

What Is Card Counting?

Card counting is the most important skill a player can master if they want to gain an edge over the casino. It is a method of increasing the odds of winning at blackjack.

This is one of the only ways that a player can actually gain an advantage over the casino, so anyone that can do it should ruthlessly apply it towards the casino.

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Origins of Card Counting

Card counting began in the 1960s, when Edward O. Thorpe released the book, “Beat the Dealer.” Thorpe ran numerous computer trials that proved that if a player knew what cards were left in the deck, he could increase or decrease his bet size to gain an edge over the casino.

How Card Counting Works

How Card Counting Works

This led to players looking for ways to figure out what cards were left in the deck. The technique that was devised to know what cards were left in the deck is card counting.

How Does Card Counting Work?

The basic premise behind card counting is that a player has a better chance of winning when there are more high cards than low cards remaining in the deck. Players can exploit this fact by raising their bet size when the deck has a higher percentage of high cards.

Card counting is a method to determine if the deck is full of high cards or not. Cards are counted by giving them a numerical value of -1, 0 or +1.

Cards numbered 2-6 have a value of +1. 7, 8 and 9 all have a value of 0. Tens, face cards and aces all have a value of -1.

A card counter adds these numbers up as the cards are dealt. When the number gets into positive territory, this means the player has an advantage. When the number is near zero, then the game is normal. When the number is negative, then the dealer has the advantage.

Card counting blackjack players will up their bets as the count rises. When it is +2 or +3, they double their bets. When it rises to +4 or 5+, they will triple their bets.

When the count increases to +6 or +7, then players will quadruple their bets. Anytime the count is +8 or more, then the players will increase their bets to the maximum they can afford with their bankrolls.

Problems with Card Counting

The main problem with card counting is that it is very hard to do. The casino environment is loud and distracting, the cards are dealt quickly and it quickly become a little stressful. This makes it easy to lose track of the count.

Casinos usually use a shoe that has six or eight decks in it. When it is half dealt, they will shuffle it. This really cuts down the advantage that a player has when counting.

Furthermore, although card counting is technically legal, casinos have the right to refuse service to anyone they want. If a casino suspects someone is counting cards, then they have every right to make that player leave and bar them from ever coming back.


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