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How to count cards in blackjack

Blackjack card counting is proven to be one way of improving your chances of winning when playing at a casino. Card counting when done right tells you when the odds have swung in your favour.

Over the years many blackjack professionals have released various card counting methods, the World Gambling List will take you through some of the popular ones in this article.

If you don’t understand basic blackjack strategy you will not be able to successfully employ card counting skills, so break out those text books before continuing.

It’s important to note that not all card counting strategies are compatible with all types of gameplay, so make sure you understand the

Before you continue reading the individual card counting guides listed at the bottom of this page, we recommend reading the remainder of this article, to understand the definitions used and assumptions made in our features.

Beginner card counting tips

  1. The correct way to begin using a card counting method is when there is a shuffling of the decks. You can’t begin to count cards in the middle of the session because you have no idea what the previous cards were and your count will not be accurate.
  2. Also, practice counting at home, either with a deck of cards that you deal out yourself or in a free online game. You need to learn how to count quickly and accurately. This can only be done by practising. Only rely on card counting when you are comfortable with it. Don’t rush it.
  3. The most popular card counting system is the Hi/Lo blackjack card counting system. It is also one of the easiest to learn, compatible with the most popular blackjack variations and is the first blackjack card counting system you should learn.
  4. There are several blackjack card counting systems available. In this guide we will outline the blackjack card counting definitions which will include the betting correlation, card value, insurance correlation and playing efficiency. Some card counting strategies are complex while others are very easy to implement during game play.

Card counting definitions

Most card counting systems make use of the following terms:

Running count (RC) and True Count (TC): Low cards increase the count and high cards reduce the count. Thus the low cards carry a positive sign (+) while the high cards carry a negative sign (-). Neutral cards cause no effect to the count.

Players should note that the count should commence at 0 after the shuffle. Each time you see a high card on the table you should decrease the count by 1 and if a low card is dealt on the table increase the count by 1. Do nothing to the count when neutral cards are dealt on the table and the result of the count is known as the Running Count (RC).

The True Count (TC) is the Running Count (RC) divided by the number of decks remaining. TC = RC / Number of decks remaining. TC gives out the assessment of how advantageous the remaining cards are.

Betting correlation: This is denoted as BC and it measures the correlation between the effects of cards removed and card point values. It is the estimation of how well a card counting system is able to predict the good betting situations. Usually, the BC is very important in blackjack variations which make use of six or more decks.

Player efficiency: This is denoted as PE and it measures the change in strategies used with the system. The PE looks at how well the system is able to adapt to several strategies being implemented and it is more effective in blackjack variations which make use of one or two decks.

Side counts: Several blackjack systems make use of various side counts so as to increase efficiency in the strategy being used. This could be something like keeping track of Aces when they are denoted a card without value.

Level: This is the number of deferrent values assigned to cards within the level of strategy. The higher the level is, the more efficiency it gets. The level counting strategies range from level one up to level four.

Insurance correlation: This is denoted as IC and it is the correlation between the value of the cards and card point in insurance situation. A point value of +4 for all cards and -9 for tens are used to predict if insurance should be placed when a dealer calls out for insurance.

Type – The TYPE column key follows:

U – Unbalanced count with no True Count
B – Balanced count with a True Count
C – Compromise indexes used for greater ease
S – Suit aware count requiring different counts for black and red cards
1, 2, 3, 4 – Level.

Blackjack card counting strategies