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Counting Cards: Blackjack Strategy for Amateurs

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A few days ago, we ran through three Blackjack card counting strategies to let you in on some of the way Blackjack players win big playing 21. In case you missed it, we talked about Hi-Lo Blackjack card counting, the Hi Opt 1 method, and the Wong Halves Card Point Values system.

Today, we’re going to walk you through, step by step, the best counting cards Blackjack strategy. From understanding basic strategy to learning how the number of chips you place down makes all the difference, this is one overview you need to read if you’re serious about counting cards. Blackjack experts: you can skip all this. But if you’re new to counting cards, we recommend bookmarking this one.

Step One: Memorize Everything We’re About to Tell You

If you walk into a casino, online or live, to play a few hands of Blackjack with a card counting strategy sheet, we’re willing to double down on the fact that you’ll be kicked out of the casino. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Step Two: Learn how to count

If you suck at math, walk away now. You don’t need to be a calculus professor to understand counting cards. Casino players come from all walks of life. But it helps if you can add and subtract without having to fire up the calculator app on your iPhone.

So, what are you counting? Depends on what system you want to use. For Hi/Lo, you’re basically adding and subtracting the number 1 as each card is dealt. Cards 2 through 6 are valued at +1 (so add 1 in your head as those cards drop). Anything valued at 10 (such as 10, J, Q, and K) are -1. That means you subtract 1 from your count. Aces are also -1. Cards 7, 8, and 9 are neutral. So, as those cards drop, you don’t have to worry about counting.

Step Three: Change your count every 52 cards

Unless you’re playing single-deck Blackjack, you’ll find more than one deck in a Blackjack shoe. It doesn’t matter if your shoe contains two decks or eight, the same counting cards Blackjack strategy applies.

Remember, for an accurate Blackjack card counting strategy to be successful, you need to start counting with a fresh shoe. Keep track of the count using the strategy described above. But along the way, make sure you’re also keeping track of how many cards have been dealt. There are 52 cards in a deck, and you need to know every time you’ve counted the equivalent of one deck. So every time 52 cards drop, it’s important to reset your count if you want this counting cards Blackjack strategy to work.

Resetting the count is what you need to do to get your “true” count as you’re counting cards. Blackjack players who’ve practiced card counting can do this with ease. If you’re new, it might take some practice. In a nutshell, all you need to do is take the running count in your head and divide it by the number of decks left in the shoe. So, if you’re playing on a 6-deck shoe, and you’ve reached a running count of +10 once the first 52 cards have dropped, you know there are five decks left. Divide your running count (+10) by the number of decks left (5) to get your true count (+2). Then continue counting cards. Blackjack novices: this takes some patience to get right so don’t get too frustrated.

Step Four: Ignore the hot waitress

You think that waitress is offering you a drink every five minutes because she thinks you’re cute? Nope, she wants to get you drunk. And not for the reason you’re dreaming of. DrunkBlackjack players are sloppy players. Drunk players aren’t good at counting cards. Blackjack players who have mastered card counting know this. And they’re great at ignoring all the distractions that come with playing in a casino. That’s where playing online Blackjack has its advantages. There are no hot waitresses bearing alcohol to distract you (unless your girlfriend or wife is a hot waitress).

Step Five: Know how to bet

It’s not about dropping $25 on every hand and hoping for the best while you’re counting cards. Blackjack betting takes on an entirely knew meaning when card counting enters the mix. To figure out what you should be betting, establish a minimum. Let’s say that’s $10 a hand. Consider that one betting unit. When your Blackjack count is +1, bet one betting unit. When it’s +2 or +3, bet two units. When it’s +8 or more, bet five units. Anything between +3 and +7? Make it three or four units.

Now conventional wisdom asks why wouldn’t you bet the house if your counting cards Blackjack strategy says you’ve got a high count? The answer is simple. Casinos understand card counting. If your goal is to get kicked out, go ahead and let them know you’re counting cards. The best way to do that is to make it obvious that you’re fluctuating your bet like a madman. But if your goal is to be discreet, follow our card counting Blackjack strategy advice.

Step Six: Enjoy your winnings

For those who are pros at counting cards, Blackjack can be an extremely lucrative game. Before hitting a casino, practice at home. Then, once you’re a pro, test it out at your local casino. Or even online. You’ll love the results.

Antoine Foxx

33 year old male. Has visited Las Vegas several times as well as other great gambling places. Always having a good time. After having a little girl, he couldn’t travel as much so he started enjoying online gaming. Antoine is always looking for something different and interesting. Part time rock star but full time computer geek, he never seems to guarantee a balanced life. Enjoys Cajun food a lot!