There are people out there who count cards and can profit from it. In movies, card counters are portrayed usually as some sort of evil geniuses. One would think that a good card counter would be good in math to say the least. Mathematical skills definitely help as card counting is based on probabilities of future events based on past events. However, you do not have to be an excellent math student in order to make a great card counter. There are certain skills required to be a great card counter such as a very strong focus, good attention to detail, logical thinking, visual memory, and a sharp mind.
What does it mean to count cards?
Card counting is a systematical approach of keeping track of the dealt cards during a card game. Easier said than done.
Is counting cards legal?
While counting cards is legal in most countries, it is not what casinos want you to do. Basically, if you get caught, you might get kicked out of a casino. It is not something to brag about out load. However, it is a great skill to master and have and casinos know it.
A Note on the Continuous Shuffling Machines and Online Casinos
Clearly, counting cards is not valid for casinos using continuous shuffling machines and for online casinos. What the continuous shuffling machine does is, it shuffles the cards and after a few rounds the dealer would put all the dealt cards back into the shuffling machine. The likelihood of any future event when using a continuous shuffling machine or in an online casino, is not interdependent on the past events. In other words, when we have a mix of the same cards over time continuously, you can draw the exact same cards over and over again. Therefore, counting does not work, as you cannot exclude the already dealt cards.
How does it work?
Let’s take blackjack as an example. If there is no shuffling machine to constantly shuffle the cards, then all past events or cards that are dealt will influence the probability of the future events or the cards left in the deck. Therefore, if you are skilled at counting cards you can beat the casino. Let’s take a look at a practical example of how you can count cards.
Card Counting Strategies
There are different card counting strategies. One of the most popular strategies in blackjack is the “hi and lo” counting strategy. The cards 10, J, Q, K, A are all good cards for the player. However, once they are not in the game and in the deck, that is not in the player’s advantage and therefore they are counted as negative, or namely as -1. Likewise, there are cards considered to be low, namely 2,3,4,6. Once they are not in the deck that means that in the future events they cannot be in your disadvantage. Once a low card is dealt, the probability of low cards hurting your game in the future is lower, which has a positive effect on your game. Therefore, all low cards are assigned the value of +1 for counting purposes. Cards 7,8,9 don’t have any card value and are counted as 0.
Below is a summary table of how you should count cards according to the “hi lo” strategy in blackjack:
BlackJack Hi Lo card counting Strategy
Meaningful Pairs Technique
When you try counting cards in a casino, there are many distractions. If there are many players on the table, you have more counting to do. Therefore, you should try to simplify and pair the cards. When you count cards, you don’t have to count them all one by one, instead try counting them in pairs and adjust and neutralize the math. When you see a low and a high card, simply assign them a value of 0.
Running Count vs. True Count
When you play blackjack, usually there are 6 to 8 decks total. Therefore, what players count there is the Running Count or the count of the cards played so far, those that have already been dealt. When you divide the Running Count to the number of decks left (approximately), you would get your True Count.
True Count = Running Card/Estimated Number of decks left
The higher the True Count, the better for the player. Therefore, you can bet more if your True Count is high.
Don’t talk to people.
Don’t drink alcohol in the casino.
Don’t get distracted. Stay focused.
Don’t repeat the card number in your head. Repeat only the Running Count.
Don’t play on a continuous shuffling machine.
Practice Makes Perfect
When you start counting cards make sure to master that art at home first. Don’t go out there, thinking you have it all figured out. Play at home and see when is it that you make mistakes in the count. Try to speed up the process of counting by doing it faster and pairing the cards to neutralize a high and a low card. Be focused and make sure that you are catching your mistakes.
Now you know the basics of card counting. There are more card counting strategies out there that you can learn and master. The “hi lo” blackjack card counting strategy is a perfect fit for any beginner looking to build up card counting skills.
NewCasinos.nz Magazine Issue 3, Article List