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The Do’s and Don’ts of Card Counting

Hoping to score a major advantage when you play Blackjack? While basic strategy is a great way to make sure you don’t make any silly mistakes, and proper bankroll management is just something everyone should practice as a matter of course, there is that one extra level available to blackjack players who really want to have the odds stacked in their favour. They can learn the basics of card counting.

Formally introduced to the world by Edward Thorp in his 1962 book, Beat the Dealer, card counting takes advantage of the fact that blackjack, unlike just about any other casino game, will have future outcomes influenced by past events. This is quite important as it means that you can potentially develop a strategy and bet based on what cards are coming out of the deck. Of course, the difficulty here is that keeping track of all of the cards as they are dealt requires an exceptional memory. It’s a problem easily remedied as, by focusing on just tracking a sub-set of cards and assigning a fixed value, it becomes a lot easier to count what cards are coming from where.

The most common system you’ll see put into practice is called Hi-Lo and features a running count of certain cards (2-6) being assigned a +1 value, that is every time one of them gets dealt the value of the deck goes up by one, while at the other end, certain cards (anything 10+ in value) are assigned a -1 value, so the total value of the deck goes down by 1 when one is dealt. It’s simple enough that it can be put into practice and also gives you a great way to tell how the deck is looking for future hands. If the count stays positive then you can bet higher, safe in the knowledge you’re more likely to get a good starting hand or a blackjack. Conversely, if the deck has a negative count, you might want to leave the table as it will take some time for the count to balance out again.

To help give you an introduction into how the world of card counting can help you, just check out this brilliant infographic below!

The Do’s and Don’ts of Card Counting