The Card-Counting Basics

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Do you crave a real advantage in the casino? A card counter knows that the path is not easy, and

it will take many games to draw a profit, but it is possible to take the advantage with a honed

skill in card-counting. Here is a relief: most card-counters do not memorize every card. Instead,

they use a system in which it is only necessary to remember one number per round. The result is

a form of card-counting that is accessible for everyone.

For players just starting out with blackjack, check out the basic blackjack tips first. Counting

cards works best with a good grasp of the normal rules.

The basic idea is to know at any point in time whether aces and face cards are likely to appear, or

if a hand is going to be ruined by a larger card. The cards can be categorized in many different

ways, providing more specific information for experienced card counters, but let’s start with

something on the easy side.

To know whether winning is likely or unlikely, turn the table into one big math problem. 10s,

aces, and face cards are worth -1. Number cards between 7 and 9 are worth 0. Number cards

between 2 and 6 are worth 1. Add up all the cards, and you know more or less what’s coming.

If the total is less than 0, the dealer has the advantage. It also means that a lot of small cards are

still in the deck. A player with 16 in their hand, for example, would choose a hit, knowing that

more small cards are coming. If the total is 0 or more, the player has the advantage. It also means

that more 10’s, face cards, and aces are coming. It’s time to double down and also take every

opportunity to split.

Every round, add your new number to the total. The total should always be around zero, from

around -10 to 10. If your total seems wonky, take another look at what you’re doing. Also

remember that there are often numerous decks of cards being shuffled together, not just one.

Learn to approximate how many decks are left and account for it. For example, the running count

may be 15, but there are 5 decks left. Dividing the running count by the number of decks tells

what the actual advantage or disadvantage is, in this case 3. Don’t get confused, though. The

running count is still the number you need to remember, not the divided number. Another thing

to keep in mind is that card-counting is not always possible. Some online casinos shuffle their

decks constantly, making card-counting meaningless.

After mastering the basics, it is possible to do many more things to improve the card-counting

advantage. Counting aces separately is a big one. Aces are more useful than 10s and face cards,

so it’s best to know how many there are of each. Keeping track of every single numbered card is

also big. Knowing exactly how many 3s, 4s, and 5s there are may be useless in the beginning at

the game, but at the very end, it can result in predicting the exact next card to show up. That kind

of information can completely turn games around at the last minute.

Card-counting is more useful with less decks, with less-often shuffled decks, and also at the tail

end of the game when there are only a few cards left. The more cards that are left, the harder it is

to predict what is coming next. Remember to save the more expensive chips for the surer bets.

Also, and this one is a little hard to master, try not to look like you’re counting cards. Best of

luck!

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