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Advanced card counting strategy BlackJack

In Blackjack, Basic Strategy is the series of decisions that a player adheres to so that they can incur the minimal loss of funds over time. It tells the player when the appropriate time to stand, hit, double down, split and if applicable when to surrender (this where the player surrenders half of their initial bet to the casino). These actions are determined by computer simulation, and decision points become firm at around 400 million hands. However; in certain situations it becomes necessary to deviate from this strategy to gain maximum profitability over the casino.

Imagine a situation where the player has an initial 2 cards that total 16, while the dealer has a 7 as an up card. If the player some-how knew that the next card was a 5, the most financially beneficial play that they can make is to double down. The 5 would give the player a total of 21, which is a no lose scenario for the player. And if the dealer also draws to total of 21 the result is a push. The most likely outcome is player wins, and when this is the most likely outcome a wise casino player wants to have as much money on the table as possible. Doubling down achieves this, and becomes the obvious choice here.

Unfortunately most strategy deviations are not this straight forward. The most common strategy deviations are deck composition dependent. This means that the player relies on the knowing what cards have been played, so they can determine the cards that are yet to be played. The player is not required to memorize all the cards that come out of the shoe. This is quite impossible to do, especially over a six deck shoe that total 312 cards. So despite what you may have seen in the Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman film “Rain Man,” instantly committing the cards to memory in real time is not the case. A far more elegant approach is taken.

In blackjack each card that is dealt either adds too, or subtracts from the initial advantage the casino has over the player. The shifting percentages can be kept track of using any number of counting systems. Each system has their pros and cons, and this will be covered in another article. The simplest counting cards system, and therefore the system subject to the least amount of errors is the Hi-Lo count system. The Hi-Lo count works by assigning values to the cards. All cards 2-6 are assigned a value of +1. Cards 7, 8 and 9 have a value of 0 and Aces and face cards and 10s have a value of -1.

The cards are added up after each round and total is calculated. This is termed the running count. The running count value is then divided by how many decks are yet to be played (the number of decks is estimated by looking at the cards in the discard tray and estimating the number of decks yet to be played). The running count divided by the decks remaining is called the True count. The True count is a normalization of the proportional ratio of high cards to low cards or low cards to high that remain per deck (on average). For example the if there are is a running count of +15 and three decks of a 6 deck shoe has been played than the True Count is +5 ( 15 divided by 3 equals 5).

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