Card Counting in Blackjack: A Revolutionary Approach to Beat the Odds (2024)
Updated At: Aug 31, 2023, 12:55 am
Created At: Aug 19, 2023, 01:27 pm
Table of Contents
Mastering Blackjack Card Counting
Whether you have played Blackjack for real money online or at a land-based casino or not, the likelihood is that you'll have heard the term Blackjack card counting. As far as famous casino stories go, the legend of a casino blackjack player getting the edge in a casino by counting cards has been a well-known casino story. Especially since the modern myth of the MIT team that systematically took down the might of Vegas casinos with their crack team of blackjack card counters, made famous in the book and film 21 – this common practice has both become casino lore and also cracked down on at casinos by using various techniques like multiple blackjack card decks and shuffling methods.
Online Blackjack rules out the Card Counting edge
Playing Blackjack online essentially rules out finding an angle at Blackjack by card counting since the virtual blackjack deck excludes single decks and uses a sophisticated RNG, making this method of winning at Blackjack impossible. However, it's still worth looking at this widespread practice and how it came about.
What Is Blackjack Card Counting?
Card counting is a method used by casino blackjack players to increase their edge over the casino and gives the player an advantage when playing Blackjack. Card counters increase the size of their bets when they have the advantage, so they win overall. Players make no or very small bets when they calculate the betting round not to be to their advantage. High cards like 10s, face or picture cards, and aces benefit the player more than the casino dealer, while lower cards are an advantage to the casino. Cards 7-9s are in the middle and count as neutral.
Counting Card in Blackjack: How does it work?
Here's a quick and easy rundown of how the blackjack card counting system works:
- Allocate a mark or tag of +1 to all cards 2-6 in the deck
- Tag every card 10-Ace in deck -1
- Keep a running count of cards after the shuffle and add the tags as each card is dealt
- If the count after a round of Blackjack is positive, undealt cards will consist of larger cards – so increase your bet
- If the count after a round of betting is negative, undealt cards will consist of lower cards – so decrease the size of your bet
- Bet more on positive counts, less on negative, and overall you'll be coming out on top and get an edge on the casino
- Any method to increase your chances over the house edge is a massive win for a casino player.
- +1 (Low Cards): 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
- 0 (Neutral Cards): 7, 8, 9
- -1 (High Cards): 10, J, Q, K, A
What To Look For In Card Counting
Blackjack Card Counters have to keep an eagle eye on every card that's dealt. If the majority of cards left in the deck are high, then the card counter increases their bet. If, after a betting round, the remaining deck has lower cards, then the card counter lowers their stake or passes that betting round. The card count always begins at 0. So, as cards are dealt, the tally is made by adding or subtracting – i.e., +1 3, -1 J, = 0 Neutral. The card counter continues the count, from every blackjack player's hands and the dealer's hands, until reaching a positive or negative count and deciding whether to increase or decrease their bet size.
Practise makes perfect
Try practicing this card-counting technique by using 1-6 decks of cards and keep a tally of the results overall. By using the tool or practicing blackjack card counting manually, you'll be able to hone your skill, and if you ever find yourself in the casino with this skill under your belt, you could be the winning blackjack player at the table.
Pros and Cons of Blackjack Card Counting
Despite there being no federal U.S law prohibiting card counting as a method to win at Blackjack, the technique is considered cheating by casinos. So, suppose you attempt to practice card counting in a U.S or European casino. In that case, the casino is within its rights to ban you and take away any winnings if it determines that you have been using card counting to beat the casino.
Winnings are, of course, the most significant advantage of card counting. Blackjack is a strategic game; card counting isn't cheating in manipulating the game unlawfully. It's simply the most skilled mathematical way to win at Blackjack in the long run. Casinos are not big fans of players winning, thus why the stigma for card counting is conflated with cheating.
Blackjack Card Counting Teams
The MIT players were the most well-known Blackjack Card Counting team, who famously won big against the casino. We only know about this card counting team because of the ensuing drama. It's safe to say that the best professional blackjack card counting teams will not be heard of as they'll stay well under the radar of the casino monitoring systems and won't become headline news. A blackjack team working together efficiently gains an advantage of 2-4% over the casino.
Is Card Counting possible with Online Blackjack?
It's tricky to card count online, and our answer to whether card counting is possible on virtual blackjack tables would be no. However, if you find an online blackjack casino game that doesn't use the software that shuffles a deck of cards on every deal, it would be possible to use the same blackjack card counting technique described above. The advantages of card counting with online Blackjack from your home are that you won't be monitored as you would in offline casinos.
Can I use Card Counting on Live Dealer Casinos online?
Most Live Dealer Blackjack casino games, such as those run by Evolution Gamine, are extraordinarily savvy to the popular card counting techniques, and they take lots of precautions and ways to ensure players are not getting an advantage over the casino by employing card counting methods to win. It is possible if you find a less established online live dealer platform to take advantage of if they need to be using preventative measures against card counting. It's work taking a look at lots of different online blackjack games at Live Casinos to see if there is anywhere you might find an edge.
Recap of the Basics:
Here are the essential points to remember when practicing card counting strategies at a casino:
- Using the -1 and +1 methods when counting cards, you must keep a constant count of all cards dealt in a betting round.
- Give a +1, 0, or -1 value to every card dealt.
- Count and keep track
- Tally up and calculate whether you have a Positive or Negative Count
- Increase or Reduce your bet according to your calculation
Advanced Card Counting Strategy
After mastering the basic blackjack card counting strategy, it's time to level up and discover the more advanced techniques of counting cards. Here are some of the most popular systems that well-known card counters and card counting teams have used in the past to gain an edge over the casino:
Stanford Wong invented this technique – thus the name. It progresses from the basic card counting strategy by assigning values, some fractions, to every card. 1 = 3,4, and 6. 0.5 = 2 and 7. 1.5 = 5. 0 = 8. -0.5 = 9. -1 – 10, J, Q, K, and Ace. This is called a “balanced system.”
Omega II is another ‘balanced' system of advanced Blackjack Card Counting. Bryce Carlson is the mastermind behind this well-known strategy. He wrote a book in 1992 popularizing this strategy (much to the annoyance of both casinos and card counting pros.) In this system, 1 = 2,3 and 7. 2 = 4, 5, and 6. -1 = 9. -2 = 10, J, Q, K. 0 = 8, and Ace.
Team Blackjack Card Counting
The team effort has had a significant impact on Blackjack. Playing multiple decks over multiple tables, all being counted simultaneously, gives teams of blackjack card-counting experts a considerable edge over the casino. The art of the Team Card Counting effort is finding subtle, though effective, ways of communicating with each other across the casino floor without being detected.
Multiple Deck Strategy
Made famous by the alumni of MIT, the now Hollywood story of this team of blackjack card counters focussed on the multiple deck methods. If a dealer uses multiple decks of cards in Blackjack, the hi-lo strategy can still work by dividing the running count by the remaining number of the deck – giving you the “true count.”
What's the Winning Strategy?
Keeping it simple, the Hi-Lo card counting strategy has proven very effective for many years. Try out this primary method, to begin with, playing at the lower stakes you're comfortable with. When you're more confident, try the other blackjack card counting techniques and see which one is more profitable for you overall.
Isn'T Counting Cards Illegal In The U.S?
The rules and laws around card counting vary depending on the state you're playing Blackjack. In Nevada, laws are put in place to stop card counting, but only if you're caught using electronic aids or apps. But relying on your ability to keep score and judge the advantage to your betting, all in your head, is not deemed unlawful. To put it quite simply, blackjack card counting is not illegal but very unwelcome at casinos that depend on their house edge to make money.
Our Top Card Counting Tips
So, let's assume you're ready to head to your casino and kick off your card counting career. Here are a few words of wisdom to keep in mind:
Don't go overboard
Always keep a close eye on your bankroll. Even if you think you have an edge, you might have little money left to play to your advantage if you bet too much.
Keep a low profile
It's an age-old story, the casino blackjack player who gets too overconfident and blows his cover by being cocky. If you're winning and want to keep winning, don't show off or start strutting your stuff. Remember, the real winners at casinos are never heard about because they are discreet about winning.
Choose an excellent land-based casino
Be careful about where you choose to play. A land-based casino that is both legitimate but not so big that they're over-vigilant is the Goldilocks of blackjack casinos for card counters. A casino where you can be discreet is ideal.
Stick to your card counting strategy
Don't waver from your card counting method. Consistency is always essential to be a long-term winner when using any blackjack strategy.
Blackjack Card Counting Faq
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the blackjack card counting method?
The system of card counting calculated the probability of getting dealt favorable cards and increasing your chances of winnings. Card counting, when appropriately practiced, gives players an edge when playing Blackjack at a casino.
Is it illegal to count cards in U.S casinos?
Casinos look down on card counting and try to take measures to stop it, but card counting is not illegal unless players use an electronic device or APP online to help them count cards.
Can anyone count cards?
The basic blackjack card counting method isn't tricky and involves a simple counting and scoring method. So long as you stay vigilant and keep count of all the cards being dealt at the blackjack table, you can use card counting.
Does it take long to become a card counter?
Depending upon how proficient you are at counting cards, the length of time it takes to master card counting depends on how easy you find it to calculate.
Can I card count in Baccarat?
Yes, it's a little known fact that Baccarat players can also get an edge and advantage by card counting. But the skill level required to beat Baccarat when card counting is more difficult to achieve. If you are a new player read our beginner’s guide to baccarat.
Are there APPs to help me learn card counting?
There are many online APPs to practice and teach blackjack card counting techniques.
Is counting cards the only way to win at Blackjack?
No, players can win at Blackjack, even if they don't count cards. There is a significant element of luck in Blackjack; sometimes, players beat the odds and come out on top.
Will I always win when counting cards?
No, card counting, while a reliable way to increase the odds in your favor, does not guarantee you will win at Blackjack.