Blackjack card counting: the game is worth the candle

Published: 02-05-22
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    Not only professional players talk about card counting in blackjack. This topic is also covered by journalists, writers, directors, TV show presenters and just online graphomaniacs who write articles on all sorts of topics they can think of.

    Since they do not know how to count cards themselves and know little about these methods, the materials they produce have little to do with reality.

    For example, a popular director shot an expensive blockbuster with widely known actors. The main character in the film has outstanding mathematical abilities, so he comes to the casino, sits at the blackjack table, and beats everyone by calculating all the moves in advance. The viewers admire his skills and scratch the back of their heads in deep thoughts, regretting that they will never be able to do this.

    This creates the illusion that counting the card is available only to the elite. An average person thinks that people with special abilities can beat the casino any time of the day or night, but it is impossible for mere mortals. And it never even occurs to many to go to specialised sites or buy a book about blackjack to find out how this technique actually works.

    The basics of blackjack card counting

    the-basics-of-blackjack-card-counting

    We will try to explain how blackjack card counting works in a few paragraphs and make you feel relieved at the thought that it is not as complicated as you thought.

    • Let’s start with the fact that blackjack has a small house edge, which allows the institution to remain in the black in the long regardless of the outcome.
    • To reduce it to a minimum, you need to choose the optimal game strategy made specifically for the type of blackjack that you had selected.
    • Next, you have to play strictly according to the recommendations without taking a single step from the pre-planned path (unless, of course, additional conditions arise, but this is a different situation).

    However, in most versions of blackjack, it is not enough to play strategically to gain an advantage over the house. There are various ways to count the cards that are out of the game. 

    Please note that all cards participate in each hand in an online casino. In other words, the cards that just played immediately return to the virtual shoe. Therefore, it is completely pointless to count them. That is why there’s nothing to do for counters in the online casinos.

    Next, you must understand that the concentration of certain cards in the remaining cards used in the game impacts your chances of winning – increasing or decreasing it.

    In particular, the more strong cards there are in a shoe, the higher the likelihood of winning.

    Accordingly, the more weak cards there are, the more likely it is that you will lose. 

    The method we use here is based on counting strong and weak cards that are out of the game. The more cards are eliminated, the higher the bet should be. The algorithm for changing the betting amount also depends on several other factors. 

    Again, this is just general information on card counting in blackjack. You can find a little bit more information here. 

    That’s it. All card counting systems are based on this, and the rest are nuances that may help to increase the accuracy of the result.

    Where can you use card counting techniques?

    Most often, card counters operate at blackjack tables in offline casinos. They choose the varieties of the game with the most profitable rules. They also prefer crowded establishments where it is easier for them to blend into the crowd.

    In such situations, they can play for the desired result without attracting the attention of pit bosses, managers and security services. In addition, with a large crowd of people and several active tables, the counter can pause the game if it isn’t going well and the predictions aren’t positive.

    But blackjack is not the only option for professionals who know how to count cards.

    Many players use this technique in baccarat, bridge and other casino card games. Of course, each of them requires a different system, and several other nuances must be considered. 

    Card Counting Techniques

    If you find blackjack with a theoretical return that is high enough, the simplest card counting system and basic blackjack strategy will help you beat the casino.

    However, the best players are not limited to these two methods. They use other tricks:

    • True Count – To get more reliable results, you must not only count the cards that are out but also think about the number of decks used.
    • Wonging – The idea came from the legendary Stanford Wong. It consists of counting cards while watching another table and sitting down to play there when the score becomes favourable.
    • Group Counting – Counters are more efficient when they work as a team. For example, this approach makes it possible to throw dust in the eyes of the security service. In particular, a player may come to the table when the score is high and start to bet big.
    • Shuffle Tracking – This is a complex technique that allows, with varying degrees of accuracy, to track the location of certain cards in the deck after the shuffle.
    • Sequencing – This technique is similar to shuffle tracking.

    In addition, many professionals have their own practices that they will not share with anyone else.

    We will not discuss peeping into the dealer’s cards and other fraudulent tricks. This can be discussed in a different, separate article because card counters are not the same as cheaters.

    Psychological aspects of card counting

    Being able to quickly do arithmetic counting in your mind is just one of the components of this craft. A good counter should have other important qualities:

    • Resilience – If a player is counting cards in blackjack, they will always be under pressure. They know they can be kicked out at any moment. In addition, the conditions that the player needs to do his calculations in are far from ideal. Chatterboxes, drunken customers, loud music, and intrusive waitresses can be confusing and interfere with doing business.
    • Acting Skills – Counter must be able to pretend to be a regular player, blend into the crowd, pretend to be incompetent, and so on. This helps to hide their extraordinary abilities.
    • Ability to influence people – The client plays against live dealers in real casinos. They often make mistakes, which can be used to the counter’s advantage. Many counters know how to provoke the croupier to make a mistake, but this is a dangerous practice.
    • Perseverance – When the game becomes a profession, it is not as enjoyable. Card counting is a monotonous and lengthy process. You need to be prepared for this.

    How to learn card counting in blackjack?

    how-to-learn-card-counting-in-blackjack

    First, it is important to understand the following: In theory, every blackjack player should learn how to count cards if they want to play as effectively as possible. In practice, though, there is no point in learning how to count cards if you do not have the opportunity to play in land-based casinos.

    If you decide to master blackjack counting, experts advise you to do the following: 

    • Thoroughly understand the rules of blackjack.
    • Learn the mathematics of this game.
    • Learn to identify the most profitable varieties with the lowest house edge.
    • Thoroughly study the basic strategy.
    • Find out what changes you need to make to the strategy in different game situations.
    • Next, take on the simplest counting system and practice your skills.
    • Learn to keep a true count.
    • Then practice in a free mode.

    Only after doing all of the above you can move on to playing for real money by counting cards in blackjack. 

    Trust me, anyone can master the craft of card counting in blackjack, even if they were not very good with mathematics at school. The main thing is to be attentive, and adding one plus one is straightforward.

     

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    Kristaps Gauja kristapsgauja

    Kristaps is an expert in the field of online casinos. Over time he has found himself as a gambling critic and analyst.

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