counting cardsSo how does a card counter keep track of the cards in blackjack? Wondering how to count cards? While there are many different systems and variations, counting cards is usually as simple as adding and subtracting the number 1. Subtract one when a high card is dealt and add one when a low card is dealt. The greater the count, the more high cards in the shoe, and the more high cards in the deck, the greater the counting edge for the player.

By also keeping track of the number of decks remaining in the shoe, you can get the true Count, which will give you an even better idea of how stacked the deck is.

We need to explain what card counters don’t do. They don’t memorize all the cards in the shoe. That’s impossible for anyone (except Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man and he’s a fictional character). Card counters don’t make seemingly crazy plays like hitting on 19 to get that 2. They don’t know exactly what the next card will be. They have a general idea of what cards should be coming up and with that information they can gain the edge – the counting edge! So if you are wondering “is card counting dead? It is not.

How to Count Cards? We cover the following counting systems:

If you are planning on counting cards at the casinos, you may want to read the article about the methods used by casinos to prevent card counting! Also, since you are interested in counting cards grab some coffee and read about Edge Sorting, Hole Carding, Shuffle Tracking, Wonging in Blackjack, Camouflage Betting, Team Play, Betting Spread, & Risk Of Ruin. You can check out our post about Don Schlesinger as it also contains further links to card counting strategies.

History of Card Counting

Back in the 1950’s, the first basic strategy system and simple card counting systems were devised. The systems didn’t get much attention until the 1960’s, when a mathematics professor by the name of Dr. Edward O. Thorp published a book titled Beat the Dealer. Thorp’s book showed the public that it was possible for a smart player to actually have an advantage over the casino at blackjack. The book included a simple counting system to keep track of the ratio of high to lows cards in a deck.

One of most popular card counting systems is the “hi-lo system”. This relatively simple system allows a player to track the cards, and change his betting patterns to take advantage of counts that were in his favor.

Blackjack is different from most casino games, in that the past play can affect future play. In roulette, the present spin is in no way affected by the previous spins. In blackjack, the cards you are dealt are a function of the cards that were already dealt. If a lot of low cards have already been dealt from the show, the deck now has an unusually high number of high cards left, and this is to the player’s advantage for a couple of reasons.

Dealers have to continue to hit until they reach 17 or higher and if there are a lot of high cards, then they are more likely to bust, and if they bust, you win.

With a lot of face cards there will be more pat hands (17-21) dealt. With a hand totaling 9,10, or 11, the dealer can’t double down on a face card rich deck, but you can. Since blackjacks pay out 1.5 to 1 to the player and just 1 to 1 for the dealer, the player has more to gain if there are a lot of high cards and blackjacks are more likely.

Players can stand for some hands when they know that there are a lot of high cards in the deck.

Further reading:

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