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How to count cards in Blackjack

Card counting, also known as card reading, is a casino card game system used by blackjack players to take advantage by keeping track of the ratio between the low cards and high cards, thus giving a fine edge over the house. Let’s start with the fundamental basics of card counting.

In using the most common Hi-Lo system, we assign the values for each card such as:

  • 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 = +1
  • 7, 8, 9 = 0
  • 10, J, Q, K, Ace = -1

For each card dealt from the shoe, you will either add 1, subtract 1, or do nothing based on the card’s value
to your Running Count.

The Running Count gets to be updated card after card, round after round until finally the dealer shuffles the cards again.

So starting from zero at your running count, thus eventually several cards showed up giving you with +5 as your current Running Count, what does it mean?

A +5, or as long as the Running Count stays positive due to the low value cards appearing more frequently, means that the percentage of high cards in the remaining set of cards increases, giving more favor to the player (hoping for a blackjack or high cards on the next deal).

On the contrary, having the negative Running Count due to the high cards dealt signals that low value cards weighs greater on the remaining deck, being more in favor to the dealer’s side in getting low value cards to not get bust, in accordance with blackjack rules that the dealer must hit stiff hands (12-16 total).

Seeing blackjack from the casino table nowadays plays with multiple decks, which disrupts card counters. The key here is to get the True Count per deck.

Let’s say for using our running count, we have a +5, and with 1 deck remaining to be played, divide the 5 by 1 to get your true count.

True Count = Running Count / Decks Remaining

This makes you informed that there are 5 high value cards (10’s and Aces from the last deck), giving you the advantage to increase and manage your bet sizing. I

Getting the True Count should be in absolute value.

Few more example:

  • If our Running Count is at +10 and we have 5 decks remaining, our True Count would be +2. (10 ÷ 5)
  • If our Running Count is at +8 and we have 3 decks remaining, our True Count would be +2. (8 ÷ 3)
  • If our Running Count is -7 and we have 2 decks remaining, our True Count would be -3. (-7 ÷ 2)

This may seem hard at first, but to fasten your card counting is to always wait for the second card to be dealt, for you to consider both cards in hand across the table that you may cancel out -1 and +1 values, and always ignore 7, 8, 9. you may see our other Betting Tips from professional players only at here!

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