Card Counting in Blackjack

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You can't count cards online but you can
play according to basic strategy to win!

In the game of Blackjack, card counting is a strategy to determine whether a player has a probability advantage by monitoring the ratio of high cards (cards with values of ten or eleven) to low cards in the deck. Decks with greater numbers of high cards offer the player an advantage as they are more likely to produce a blackjack result (i.e. Card value of 21) which obviously has a higher payout value or that dealer is more likely to bust (have a losing hand which has a higher value than 21).

Contrary to popular belief, card counting is not something that only a genius can do, it can be learnt through a variety of systems, the most basic of which is the high-lo system where positive, negative, or null values are assigned to each card and the running count is adjusted by each card's assigned value as it is dealt. Here are a few of the basic card counting terms you will come across when learning this art:

  • Betting Ratio: A comparison of players highest and lowest wagers. This is used by a casino to identify possible card counters who will increase their bets when the deck is in their favour.
  • Betting the count: betting the dollar amount equal to the current value of the card "count".
  • Point Count: The net value of the card count at the end of a hand, for the cards that were played in that hand.
  • Card Counting: A system reliant on the ability of the player to memorise the cards played, enabling him/her to determine which cards will still be dealt and adjust his/her bets accordingly. While this is a legal practice, most casinos will remove a card counter if he/she is identified as such.
  • Running Count: The count from the beginning of the deck or shoe, which is updated by the value of the point count after each card is exposed.
  • Shuffle Up: The process of prematurely shuffling cards to throw off a player who is suspected of being a card counter.
  • True Count: The running count adjusted to account for the number of cards left in the deck or shoe that have not yet been played.

Card counting is not possible at online casinos however, due to the fact that they shuffle the decks at the beginning of each round, so the best thing to do is stick to basic strategy, which is best learnt on a single deck before advancing to other variations like High Streak Online Blackjack games.