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3 Easy Ways to Count Cards in Blackjack

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Did you know there are no laws in the United States that prohibit card counting in Blackjack? It’s true. It’s perfectly legal to count cards while playing Blackjack, provided you don’t use any external Blackjack card counting system.

That means if you walk up to a Blackjack table with a computer or some other hidden device to count cards, you’re breaking the law. But if you rely on your brain to keep track of what’s hit the table and what hasn’t, you’re operating within the law.

That being said, if a casino thinks you’re counting cards in Blackjack, we’re willing to double down on the fact that you’ll be kicked out of the casino and banned for good. We’re not sure if the infamous take-you-to-the-back-room-and-break-your-knees scene that Hollywood loves so muchactually plays out in real life, but we’re not really interested in finding out either (if you know the answer, we hope you’ve recovered).

Now that the legalities are out of the way, we’re going to walk you through three easy Blackjack card-counting systems. And by easy, we mean easy-to-describe and easy-to-understand. Easy to learn? Not so much.

Hi-Lo Blackjack Card Counting Method

If you’re interested in learning how to count cards in Blackjack, we recommend you start with a free Blackjack card counting method originally introduced in the ‘60s. The basics are simple. It works best with a single deck, so you likely won’t find much accuracy with an 8-deck shoe;

In a nutshell, every card is assigned a value: +1, 0, or -1. Cards 2 through 6 are valued at +1. Cards 7, 8, and 9 are valued at 0. And 10 (included Jack, Queen, King) and Ace are valued at -1.

You start at 0 with a fresh deck, and as the cards drop on the table, you add and subtract in your head based on the value of the card. The higher the count, the better your odds are of hitting Blackjack.

Hi Opt 1 Card Point Values

Moving to a multi-deck shoe? Then you’re going to need a more advanced Blackjack card counting system. This one assigns similar point values as the Hi-Lo Blackjack card counting system, with two exceptions. First, twos are valued at zero instead of +1. Second, Aces are valued at zero instead of -1. And not only do Aces not affect the count, but you also need to keep track of how many Aces dropped. So your brain is keeping track of two pieces of information at once. You also need to keep track of how many decks are left in the shoe, and then use that value to convert your running count into a true count. So every 52 cards, you take your running count (let’s say it’s +6) and divide it by how many remaining decks are left (let’s say three decks) to reset your count (which in this case would now be +2).

Wong Halves Card Point Values

Not to be attempted by amateur card counters, the Wong Halves method of counting cards in Blackjack assigns half-point values to some cards. The Blackjack card counting system works the same as the first two we described, but it’s said to be far more accurate because of the half-points assigned to some cards. The point system looks like this:

2=+0.5 • 3=+1 • 4=+1 • 5=+1.5 • 6=+1 • 7=+0.5 • 8=0 • 9=-0.5 • 10=-1 • A=-1

Sound complex? If you’re not a math genius, it might take some time to grasp any one of these systems. But if you’ve got the time, patience, and will to succeed, there’s a lot of money to be made if you can master how to count cards in Blackjack.

Andy Cunoi

Andy is a common guy with an uncommon passion for blackjack. Currently he lives in San Francisco, California. Andy enjoys writing about gambling. Loves a simple life and his writing reflects that. He also enjoys music festivals a lot.