How To Count Cards In Blackjack (Simple Guide)
The law of probability is at the heart of every casino’s success. You see, in a casino, players participate in games that place the odds slightly in favour of the casino. This ensures that, in the long run, the casino will make more money than it loses!
What if we told you that there was a way to change these odds and potentially increase your chances of winning? Yep, we’re talking about counting cards, and it’s a highly sought-after skill in the Blackjack world to beat casinos!
Ever since popular movies such as 21 and Ocean’s Eleven have come to the screen, people worldwide have wanted to try their hand at card counting in casino games. Today, we’ll teach you how while also discussing whether this skill is worth having when playing Blackjack online.
How Hard is it to Count Cards in Blackjack?
Movies such as 21 have created the impression that counting cards isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Whilst it does require a bit of skill, you don’t have to be a genius to count cards. Some card counting strategies are as simple as maintaining a simple tally system; however, advanced counting methods are more complex and have point values that can offer players greater accuracy.
The simplest version of card counting is the Hi-Lo system. More advanced systems include:
- Omega II system
- Victor Advanced Point Count
- Wong Halves Counting Method
How do you Count Cards in Blackjack?
In all card counting systems, the players assign a negative, a positive, and a 0 value to the face and number cards. These values allow the players to maintain a running count according to the cards dealt so far. As the game progresses, players can potentially make decisive bets.
The biggest benefit to a card counter? They can increase their bet at the right time and potentially win! The most important task of a card counter is to read cards to maintain a ‘running count’ based on all the cards dealt in the game. The running count helps the player alter bets accordingly.
In the most basic card counting system, the Hi-Lo method, card counters assign cards into 3 sections. The high cards (10, J, Q, K, A) are assigned the value of ‘-1’, whereas the low cards (2, 3, 4, 5, 6) are assigned the value of ‘1’. The middle cards (7, 8, 9) are assigned the value of zero and don’t alter the running count.
The high cards are good for players in Blackjack; however, losing these high cards is bad, so they get a negative value as this decreases the player’s advantage. The low cards favour the dealer and get a +1 value, whereas the middle cards don’t benefit either the player or the dealer; hence, they get a value of 0.
Does Counting Cards Actually Work?
Several casino players wonder if counting cards is as effective as some movies have suggested it to be. Let’s put it this way; counting cards can give players a possible 0.05 to 1% advantage over the casino. However, this method isn’t as effective as understanding Blackjack properly or, well, just having a lucky break!
Card counting doesn’t necessarily guarantee any wins and in no way ensures that a player will get rich quickly. People who count cards can often lose, and players can sometimes spend hours counting cards before they have any potential advantage.
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Is Card Counting Illegal?
Card counting is currently not illegal under British law and is not illegal in the US. However, if a player is receiving assistance in counting cards from any device or other players, then this act will be deemed illegal.
Also, remember that casinos are independent establishments and have the right to ban anyone they believe may be card counting. Hence, you may have noticed several cameras and staff members keeping an eye on players who start winning too much. Card counting lowers the casino’s edge, so it’s not something they allow; however, it won’t land you in jail.
Can you Count Cards In Online Blackjack?
Counting cards in live Blackjack games isn’t that tough, but what about online Blackjack? Are counting cards possible there too? Well, it’s possible, but it’s very difficult!
Most online casinos employ special methods to stop people from counting cards from the comfort of their homes. Methods such as random shuffling of decks give card counters a tough time. However, card counters can find certain live dealer games with rules that favour their knack for card counting.
How does Online Blackjack Prevent Card Counting?
Wondering what methods online Blackjack utilises to prevent card counting? Some of the common methods employed by online casinos to tackle card counters include:
- Continuous Shuffling Machines (CSM):
Continuous shuffling machines are automatic devices that constantly shuffle the decks. This makes card counting practically impossible for players and ensures the game is played by the rules.
- Round Per Hour Limitation:
The rounds per hour are limited as Live Blackjack games are slower. This also limits the overall winnings of the card counter.
- Deck Penetration:
To prevent card counting, online casinos can use the method of Deck penetration. This involves replacing the 8-deck shoes once 50% of the cards have been played. This technique makes card counting ineffective.
- Specific Blackjack Rules:
Different Blackjack variations exist with certain rules that make card counting impossible and give the casino a certain edge. These include the dealer hitting on soft 17 or 6:5 payouts.
- Scanning of Cards:
Certain online casinos scan players’ cards before adding them to a table. These casinos have systems that can analyse the players betting patterns and identify any card counting to inhibit it.
Is Blackjack Beatable Without Card Counting?
Counting cards isn’t going to do too much for you if you plan on mastering Blackjack! In fact, it’s almost impossible to win Blackjack only by counting cards. The real key lies in mastering the basic strategy! It’s the only way to know the statistically best move for players in any hand scenario.
Using a basic strategy decreases the casino’s edge, and without a basic strategy, counting cards is pointless. Some popular Blackjack strategies include:
- Shuffle tracking
- Ace sequencing
- Hole carding
- Edge sorting
- Doubling down after splitting pairs
Knowing these strategies will provide Blackjack players with a possible edge; however, they are only applicable in certain situations. Plus, mastering these strategies requires more skill than counting cards!
To conclude, it’s worth pointing out that people play Blackjack and other casino games for fun and excitement. Counting cards takes these elements out of these games and makes them more like a boring job.
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