Due to efforts by Edward Torp and other blackjack experts, as early as in the middle of the 20th century all gamblers learnt that they can beat casino by using the optimal strategy and card counting. At first, casinos tried to toughen the rules, but decreased demand made them return to the old conditions. Nowadays, in hundreds of casinos you can find blackjack that you can play to reach the result. Casinos don’t suffer from losses, but thrive. The reason why is that most blackjack lovers don’t want to stress out and think. All they want is to get pleasure, and consider blackjack as a form of entertainment. Many players don’t even learn the basic strategy, let alone card counting. However, counting cards is not hard at all. There are a couple of popular methods of card counting, and the easiest of them can be learned and successfully applied by anyone. Before starting to play for money, you’ll have to practice a little, though.
You must already know that every blackjack variation has a certain house edge, i.e. percent of casino advantage. It depends on the rules, the number of decks and some other factors. To decrease the house edge, you must follow a pre-set strategy that takes into account every detail of the game.
However, house edge doesn’t stay fixed throughout the game. During the game, when dealt cards are placed from the shoe to the discard rack, the house edge changes. Sometimes, it becomes more beneficial for the player. Card counters identify when the situation becomes favorable, and raise their bets. When the situation is unfavorable, they bet as little as they can or even pass on dealings.
To see whether the current sutuation is beneficial for you, you can calculate the ratio between large and small cards in the decks that remained in the shoe. The more Tens or Aces they contain, the better for the player (read a special article about why this is so).
A professional player follows a basic strategy and counts cards dealt by the dealer. This doesn’t mean, though, that you must remember all of them. All you need to do is to add or withdraw one point, depending on the card. The larger the count, the higher is the possibility of winning.
Every new shoe starts with zero. Further counting looks as follows:
Two through Six – plus one
Ten through Ace – minus one
Seven through Nine – don’t take them into account
In the case of zero or negative count, make minimum bets. If the count is deeply negative, you should stop playing or move to another table – which is not always possible, because you can arise suspicion.
Theoretical knowledge is of no use, unless you can apply it during the game. Take the deck, shuffle it good, and start opening cards one after another, counting them. When the deck is finished, the count will return to zero: the amount of +1cards and -1 cards is equal.
To play blackjack with several decks (six or eight), you must learn how to make true count. This means that you must consider the amount of cards that remained in the shoe. To determine the true count used when making a bet, you need to divide the current count by this number.
For example, you play with eight decks. The discard rack contains approximately two decks, which makes the amount of decks in the shoe six. The current count reached six. By dividing this number by the amount of decks (six), you get one. This is the true count you should consider when making a bet. This may seem complicated, but you will learn to make the count easily after some practice.
By the way, the true count makes substantial corrections to the basic strategy. If the true count exceeds two, you can take blackjack insurance.
Now let’s see what scheme to apply when changing the size of the bet. The easiest approach is to raise the bet by one every time the true count is increased by 0.5. For example, count 1 – bet 1, count 1.5 – bet 2, count 2 – bet 3, and so on.
Remember that you should be very careful: card counters are not welcome in any casino in the world. Most casinos make everything possible to get rid of the client suspected of counting cards. You should read our tips on how to avoid being sacked out of the casino by pit bosses and security men.
Also remember that card counting is useless at online casinos. Casino games based on random number generator use all decks in every dealing, even if you some cards in the discard rack. Methods like card counting are also useless at online casino games with live croupiers.
After mastering the simplest system of card counting, you can try and learn more complicated strategies applied by experienced players.