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Card Counting 2024

Master the Blackjack Card Counting Strategy

The basis of blackjack card counting is to follow the cards dealt, in order to adapt your current bet: a blackjack game that contains many strong cards is advantageous for the player.

You have, in no doubt, heard of this strategy in online blackjack. Can this method be mastered by all blackjack players? 

Is there an effective method to count blackjack cards without being a genius. To find out, read on.

Card counting

To get an overall idea of ​​how blackjack card counting works let's start with an overview

This card counting technique was brought to the big screen in the excellent movie Las Vegas 21, in which brilliant students from the prestigious American university Massachusetts Institute of Technology, more commonly known as MIT, flew to Las Vegas to try to pocket the jackpot at blackjack tables. In this film, the students and their blackjack teacher are presented as math prodigies.

Obviously, before you start blindly, you have to go through the “theory” box. You need to learn how the strategy of counting cards during games to determine the house edge works, to be able to apply it, and how to count cards in blackjack. If you have two hours in front of you, we advise you to watch the film Las Vegas 21 which shows how the group of MIT players learn to count cards.

The strategy, as you will see in our article is quite simple but it requires a lot of practice, so you have to play and play again for the mechanism to take place in your mind.

In appearance, the method is very simple. This involves counting the cards played during the game to determine the cards remaining in the shoe. To do this, simply assign a number of points to a card or a group of cards, and subtract or add as the cards come out of the shoe. The player must therefore count and mentally count the cards coming out of the shoe while remaining focused on his game. Depending on his calculations, the player will be able to determine when he can increase his bet as he pleases.

Principle of card counting

While the odds on roulette and other casino games are fixed, the odds in blackjack vary with each hand depending on the composition of the shoe: these are draws without replacement, each draw influences the composition of future draws.

“Counting the cards” consists of following certain cards, or all the cards, with certain methods, to obtain the ratio of weak or strong cards remaining to be dealt with.

If the ratio indicates that there are more strong cards to play in the shoe, it is said that the shoe is “hot”. The card counter will increase its bets because statistically, the cards will be in its favor: The dealer will die more often (exceed 21), the players will make more blackjacks and will start with larger starting hands.

Now let's take a closer look at the most common technique for counting cards in blackjack

The technique of card counting has a few variants which we will also explain to you, but here is the most practiced of them. Again, it is not more complicated, just understand and apply: we are sure you will love the concept.

Let’s take a closer look at the method of blackjack card counting as a real pro: cards from 2 to 6 are worth 1 point, those from 7 to 9 are worth 0 points, cards 10, jacks, queens, kings, and aces are worth – 1 point. It is, therefore, necessary each time to add or subtract the value of the cards leaving the shoe.

Until then, nothing very complicated. For example, if in a hand I have a 7 and a 3 then my total will be 1 point. The player must, therefore, bet when his card count blackjack result is the highest. Indeed, small cards are worth 1 point and large cards – 1, if the total of his card count is high, this means that many small cards are already out, and therefore the player will have a better chance of seeing appear large cards in those remaining in the shoe.

The Card Counting System

Most card counting systems start counting at 0. This means that when the first card is dealt, the count is zero. Depending on the card counting system used, this count will fluctuate after each card distributed to which a value will be assigned: for example +1, 0 or – 1 in the Hi-Lo system . You must follow not only the cards that are dealt with you but also the cards dealt to each player and to the dealer.

When the shoe has a high percentage of large cards (the shoe is “hot” ), the player has several advantages:

  •  The dealer will bust more often (exceed 21)
  • Players will make more blackjacks
  • Players will receive more cards strong and will start with larger starting hands.

So when the card count is high, the card counter bets higher sums because he has a high mathematical advantage of winning against the casino: this does not, however, assure it of winning every time.

Card counting doesn’t stop there, even if you bet more and win more, you have to stay focused and keep counting and tracking cards. If the card count falls, becomes neutral or negative, then you must bet less because the casino will have a greater advantage.

Are we all capable of learning card counting or does it take a genius to do it?

You will understand, the method is, apparently, not complicated. It all depends on the player’s dexterity to mentally calculate the cards and his ability to concentrate. It is precisely on this last point that this method has its limits. Indeed, imagine yourself in the conditions of a game of blackjack.

The tension, the adrenaline, the people watching your game. There are many factors that favor your devolution. Now imagine yourself in the same conditions, with the heavy task of mentally counting all the cards that the dealer deals. Indeed, if you want your account to be fair, you must not miss any card in your count.

Do you really have to be a genius of probability and statistics to counter chance and learn to count cards? You don’t have to be a math genius like Ken Uston to count cards. The method is logical and accessible to all who know how to add and subtract. On the other hand, you have to be a genius in concentration to be able to apply it rigorously. As you may know, a huge number of players use the said card counting strategy, but unfortunately do not master it enough to succeed in winning using it.

Many critics have also pointed the finger at the film Las Vegas 21, accusing the film of advertising in favor of casinos by showing that with the technique of card counting, one could manage to counter chance. Certainly, some players are capable of it, but these do not represent, but a tiny proportion of all blackjack players using this method.

What is the recommended card counting system?

The simplest counting system is the one we recommend, namely the HI-LO count or more / minus, in particular used by the MIT team.

Most card counting systems use positive counting. When the card count is positive, this means that there have been more weak cards played and that the shoe now contains a higher percentage of strong cards.

Training will be the key to success in playing live blackjack and making money

To win big sums of money, in blackjack, the player must have the necessary flair in order to know when to bet. In other words, he must succeed in defining when his hand will be the best to beat the dealer. Card counting, therefore, consists in focusing one’s attention on the cards drawn by the dealer, in an attempt to define the value of the cards remaining in the shoe.

As we have just seen, starting from a count of 0, the player will give a value to the cards, as and when they are drawn by the dealer. Thus, when during the game, the shoe has a high percentage of large cards, the players will be more likely to make blackjack, while the dealer will be more likely to lose the game by exceeding the fateful number 21.

Card counting alone or in a team

In Las Vegas 21, MIT students count cards as a group. The first takes place at a table and counts the cards drawn by the dealer. If the latter only draws weak cards, the player will be able to discreetly signal his accomplice to join the table, to start betting. 

This technique has the advantage of being discreet and profitable because if a table is not of particular interest, the player will therefore not waste time betting on it and will, therefore, be able to concentrate on other tables. In addition, many players use the back-counting method, which consists of placing themselves discreetly behind the players in order to observe the draw of the dealer to take their place at the table at the right time.

Card counting train in real conditions

As we previously explained in order to help you count blackjack cards, you don’t have to be a brilliant MIT student with a good brain to be able of card counting. On the other hand, it is necessary to have a spirit of concentration flawless and without weakness. Indeed, it will probably seem very easy and fun to count cards in the comfort of your living room, but the playing conditions will be very different when you take a seat at a blackjack table in a land-based casino or live casino.

In fact, you will be disturbed by the laughs and loud voices of other customers, the sound animations of the slot machines, the comings and goings of people around you, not to mention the fact that you will undoubtedly be led to exchange some customary polite formulas with your table neighbors. To train in real conditions, do not hesitate to turn on the TV or radio, or play directly in a public place.

You can also train for as long as you want to count blackjack cards in real conditions, by deciding to play live blackjack, for example on live game universes available from online casinos.

iPhone apps help you count blackjack cards: more information here

As previously mentioned, you don’t have to be a math prodigy to master blackjack card counting. For example, with the Hi-Low method, you just need to know, add, and subtract from one unit starting from a count of 0. You still have to be good at mental math. If this is not your case, the developers have thought of you, by offering applications allowing players to count cards directly on their smartphones. Your guide, Casino ♠️ Poker, tells you all about these ingenious applications: how do they work? What are the pros and cons? And above all, can we really use them during a game of blackjack in a land-based casino?

How do these card counting apps work?

Using the famous card counting techniques, these applications allow you to calculate the value of the cards dealt by the dealer as you go along, in order to determine the value of the cards remaining in the shoe. With these card counters, the player will be able to choose the right moment to bet large sums. 

To do this, the user must press a part of the screen, depending on the value of the card distributed. For example, if the card drawn by the dealer is a weak card, that is, a 2, 3, 4, 5, or a 6, this card will be worth -1 point. The player must, therefore, press the cursor “-“, located on the right or left of the screen. When you have to bet big, the software will warn you by quietly vibrating your smartphone. Thanks to these applications, players no longer need to mentally keep the total count of their running game and can, therefore, in theory, more easily master the methods of counting cards.

A large choice of application

The first application was launched in 2009, under the name of “Blackjack Card counter”. Players could find it on the Apple Store for just $ 2.39. This application offered players a tutorial of the many card counting systems, a table listing the basic strategy, a training mode with different difficulty levels and a function allowing to use the application with the screen of the iPhone off, so as not to arouse suspicion in casinos. We were unable to find this application on the Apple Store. However, many other applications have emerged since then, some free, others paid, but they all offer the same service: counting cards to pocket the jackpot.

Limitations of this method

You can imagine that since 2009, casinos have heard of these applications and have therefore taken the necessary measures to counter this cheat. Indeed, if counting cards in blackjack is not illegal, using an electronic device to beat the dealer is completely prohibited and punishable by law. It will, therefore, be absolutely impossible for you to use this method at a blackjack table.

In addition, at the time, some experts reported that the media buzz generated by the appearance of these applications could have been set up by the land casinos themselves. Indeed, the turnover of casinos has dropped considerably, to the benefit of those of their virtual counterparts. It would, therefore, have been extremely profitable for land-based casinos to come back to the forefront, making headlines in press articles.

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