Blackjack Card Counting Q&A
Q. How do you count cards playing blackjack?
Counting cards in blackjack is a strategy that involves keeping track of the cards that have been played in order to gain an advantage over the house.
The basic idea is that if more low cards (2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, and 6s) have been played, the deck is more favourable to the player because there are more high cards (10s and aces) left in the deck. Conversely, if more high cards have been played, the deck is more favourable to the house because there are more low cards left in the deck.
A high card deck in blackjack is more favourable to the player for several reasons:
- Increased chances of blackjack: A high card deck (a deck with more 10-value cards such as tens, jacks, queens, and kings) increases the player’s chances of getting a natural blackjack (an Ace and any 10-value card) which pays out at 3:2.
- Better odds: With a higher proportion of 10-value cards in the deck, the player has a better chance of getting a hand that is closer to 21 without going over. This means the player will have more chances to win or push (tie) the hand.
- More opportunities to double down: When the player has a high-value hand, they can double down, meaning they can double their initial bet and receive one additional card. This strategy is more favourable with a high card deck as the player has a better chance of getting a high-value card when doubling down.
- More opportunities to split: When the player receives two cards of the same value, they can split them into two separate hands. With a high card deck, the player has a better chance of receiving two high-value cards, which can increase their chances of winning.
With this in mind, here are the steps to count cards in blackjack, and betting to that count.
- Assign a value to each card. The most common system is to assign a value of:
+1 to 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, and 6s,
0 to 7s, 8s, and 9s,
-1 to 10s, jacks, queens, kings, and aces.
- Start counting cards as they are played. Keep a running count of the value of the cards that have been played by adding or subtracting the values assigned to each card.
- Play correct blackjack basic strategy .
- Adjust your bets based on the count. When the count is high (i.e. there are more high cards left in the deck), the player should increase their bets. When the count is low (i.e. there are more low cards left in the deck), the player should decrease their bets.
Q. Will card counting guarantee blackjack wins?
The short answer is no.
It’s important to note that counting cards is not a guaranteed way to win at blackjack, and it can take a significant amount of practice and dedication to master the technique.
Keeping a correct count, betting to that count all the while playing perfect basic strategy takes practice. To do all of this faced with all the distractions of a casino environment takes a LOT of practice.
Additionally, all casinos, traditional and online, employ a number of strategies these days blunt the effectiveness of blackjack card counting.
Q. What measures do casinos take to mitigate the effectiveness of card counting?
Casinos take several measures to mitigate the effectiveness of card counting in blackjack:
- Multiple decks: Casinos often use multiple decks of cards in a single game, making it more difficult for players to keep an accurate count.
- Shuffling frequently: Casinos will shuffle the cards more frequently, particularly when the count is favourable to players, to disrupt the count and make it harder for players to keep track.
- Automatic shufflers: Many casinos use automatic card shufflers which make it harder for players to keep track of the cards and also allows casinos to shuffle more frequently.
- Constant surveillance: Casinos use surveillance cameras and security personnel to monitor players and look for any suspicious behaviour. If a player is suspected of counting cards, they may be asked to leave the casino.
- Banning: Casinos have the right to ban individuals they suspect of card counting.
- Different game rules: Some casinos use variations of the traditional blackjack game, such as “continuous shuffle machines” that shuffle the cards after every hand, making it impossible to count cards.
- Countermeasures Team: Some casinos hire dedicated teams that specifically focus on identifying and stopping players who are counting cards.
Q. Is it possible to count cards playing RNG blackjack online?
It is generally more difficult to count cards when playing blackjack online than when playing in a physical casino, for several reasons:
- Random Number Generators (RNGs): Online blackjack games use RNGs to shuffle the cards after each hand, making it impossible to keep track of the cards that have been played.
- Multiple decks: In an online blackjack game, the software may use multiple decks or even an infinite number of decks, making it difficult to keep an accurate count.
- Continuous shuffle: Some online blackjack games use a continuous shuffle, meaning the cards are shuffled after each hand, making it impossible to count cards.
- Limited insight: Online blackjack players have limited insight into the game’s inner workings and it is difficult to determine how many decks are being used and when the cards are being shuffled.
- Game speed: Online games tend to be faster than live games, making it harder to keep up with the count.
- Online casinos have their own countermeasures to detect card counting, such as tracking the player’s betting patterns and analyzing their play history.
Q. How do live dealer online casinos prevent card counting?
Live dealer online casinos have several measures in place to prevent card counting in blackjack:
- Multiple decks: Just like in physical casinos, live dealer online casinos use multiple decks of cards to make it more difficult for players to keep an accurate count.
- Shuffling frequently: Live dealer online casinos will shuffle the cards more frequently, particularly when the count is favourable to players, to disrupt the count and make it harder for players to keep track.
The default shuffle for most live blackjack tables is a re-shuffle mid shoe (ie around 4 decks into the shoe), not allowing sufficient deck penetration for a count to be effective.
- Constant surveillance: Live dealer online casinos use surveillance cameras to monitor players, and their personnel will be watching the game and players throughout the game to detect any suspicious behaviour. If a player is suspected of counting cards, they may be asked to leave the table.
- Banning: Live dealer online casinos have the right to ban individuals they suspect of card counting.
- Different game rules: Some live dealer online casinos use variations of the traditional blackjack game, such as “shuffle at specific points” that shuffle the cards after certain points in the game, making it impossible to count cards.
- Countermeasures team: Some live dealer online casinos have teams that specifically focus on identifying and stopping players who are counting cards. These teams may analyze player’s betting patterns, play history, and other data to detect any suspicious behaviour.
- Limited access to the game: Some live dealer online casinos may limit the number of players that can join a table at a time, making it harder for players to join a table with a favourable count.
It’s important to note that counting cards is not illegal but it is still considered cheating and can lead to account suspension or banning, whether playing at a traditional casino or online. Therefore, players should always be aware of the policies and rules of the live dealer online casino they are playing in.
Q. Who are some of the most famous blackjack card counters?
- Edward O. Thorp: Considered the father of card counting, Thorp wrote the first book on the subject, “Beatire: A Basic Strategy for Blackjack” in 1962. He also developed the first card counting system, called “Ten Count” which was the basis for many other systems developed later.
- Ken Uston: A former member of the “MIT Blackjack Team,” Uston wrote several books on card counting and was one of the most successful and well-known card counters of his time. He was also instrumental in the development of the “point count” system and the “big player” concept.
- Al Francesco: A professional gambler and member of the “MIT Blackjack Team,” Francesco was known for his “big player” strategy and his ability to win large sums of money by playing at multiple tables at once.
- Jeff Ma: A member of the “MIT Blackjack Team” who was the inspiration for the book and movie “Bringing Down the House” Jeff was known for his ability to win big and also for his ability to get away with it.
- Arnold Snyder: A professional gambler and author, Snyder is a renowned expert on blackjack and has written several books on the subject, including “The Blackjack Formula” and “Blackbelt in Blackjack.”
- Tommy Hyland: Tommy Hyland is known for leading one of the most successful and longest-running card counting teams in the history of gambling. His team was able to win millions of dollars playing at casinos all over the world.
- James Grosjean: James Grosjean is a professional gambler, known for his expertise in blackjack and other casino games. He has written several books on the subject, including “Beyond Counting” and “Exhibit CAA: Beyond Counting Analysis and Professional Player Approaches.”
- Bill Kaplan: Bill Kaplan is one of the co-founders of the MIT Blackjack Team, a group of students and ex-students from the Massachusetts
Leave a ReplyWant to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!