Blackjack Card Counting Trainer Game & Guide:
How To Count Cards in Blackjack

Want to take your blackjack game to the next level? Guarantee the odds are stacked in your favor? Then you need to learn how to count cards in blackjack like a professional gambler. Like all great things, it's an easy skill to learn but a difficult one to master. Fortunately, we've got you covered with our card counting training simulator.

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Learn How to Count Cards in Blackjack

Casino.org's Blackjack Card Counting Guide

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So Exactly What Does It Mean To Count Cards?

Put simply, to count cards, means to keep track of the number of high and low cards left in the dealers' deck. Do this successfully and you'll be able to raise your bet when you know the odds are stacked in your favor, making you much more likely to win.

Isn't Card Counting illegal?

But Isn't That Illegal?

Well technically no, counting cards isn't considered a criminal act, providing you're doing it in your head and not using a card counting device or mobile app, but it is widely regarded as cheating, and casinos don't take too kindly to losing money this way. If you are going to attempt to count cards in a casino we'd strongly advise you to act on the side of caution. Casinos have been known to come down heavy on those they suspect of counting cards at their tables, so be aware that your behavior will be closely monitored at all times and even the best card counters occasionally get rumbled.

Why Card Count?

So Why Do It?

In a word: winning. Do it right and you can strike gold just with one simple and strategic game. Yeah. You read that right. Playing Blackjack can help you win big. Really big. Blackjack has become a casino game phenomenon worldwide because, apart from being fun to play, you also get a great chance at pocketing whatever you win. Plus, here's where it gets even better: you can actually flip the odds in your favor, giving you more chances of winning,

Ok, You've Convinced Me. So How Does It Work?

How Does It Work?

To card count properly you'll need to keep a running tally based on the face value of any cards revealed. Cards are assigned a value of either +1, 0, or -1, according to their face value, with higher cards attributed -1 status and lower cards +1.

What this does, providing you keep an accurate count as the cards are dealt, is allow you to monitor the running value of the cards left remaining in the deck. Which in turn dictates when you should bet high (when the value of the cards remaining in the deck is low) and when you should bet low or not at all (when the value of the cards remaining in the deck is high).

So how does this add up to an advantage over the casino? Well, if you're playing blackjack perfectly, then the house edge is around 0.5%. If you play perfectly AND master card counting then YOU actually have a 1% advantage over the casino. That is huge. So it literally pays to get learning!

Let's Demonstrate...

In this strategy, high cards (10-Ace including face cards) are assigned a specific value of -1. Low cards (2-6 in any suit) are assigned a +1 value. The remaining cards (7-9) count as 0.

Lets Demonstrate

As the dealer deals a card you make a note of its assigned value. If the card is a 10 for example its assigned value is -1. If the next card dealt is a three its assigned value is +1 so your cumulative total adds up to 0. The idea is that you do this continuously for every new card dealt. The total is considered the "running count"

That's all there is to it. Remember the mantra, "keep it simple, silly"? Well, it applies here best. When you keep it simple, your brain does not go into over drive.

Advances In Strategy

Card Counting Strategies

Obviously, once you've mastered the art of basic card counting and are probably past counting off cards on your digits (not advisable to do in a casino), you should move up the ladder.

Omega II

You could wet your feet staling with the Omega II system developed by the brilliant Bryce Carlson. The Omega II technique is a "balanced" system, where we have 0 as base. A positive count reflects that more low cards are present in the deck being dealt while a negative count means a large number of high cards. Plus, the count is also a bit sophisticated than the classic +1,0 and -1 values.

If you have a card numbering 2, 3 or 7 you will assign it 1. For 4, 5 and 6 the value is 2. The card 9 is considered -1. Face cards and 10s are -2, while 8 and Ace cards become 0 in value. You might find the counting slightly difficult in Omega II, however, it will definitely be worth your while once you get a hold of it.

Wong Halves

The name for this strategy comes from its wonderfully skilled creator Stanford Wong. It's considered a fairly advanced strategy on account of its assigned values, some of which are fractions instead of whole numbers. In Wong Halves, cards 3, 4 and 6 are valued as 1. Cards 2 and 7 are valued at 0.5. The card 5 is worth 1.5 in value. Card 8 is 0 while 9 is -0.5 The 10, Ace and face cards are assigned -1.

The Wong Halves techn que is also a "balanced" system, which means that when a deck is dealt completely, your count should be 0. Some players, choose to simplify the strategy by doubling up all the values to avoid using fractions altogether.

Group Play

21 Movie Poster Some card counters have found it an advantage to approach counting as a team effort. The advantage of doing this is that multiple decks, on multiple tables, can be counted simultaneously. Signals are usually devised so as the members of the team can secretly communicate with one another while avoiding detection. Thus signaling to the hovering players when to join in a hand, and whether or not to bet big. This strategy was famously employed by a team of students and alumni at MIT who used it to win millions of dollars from multiple casinos for almost a decade. Once uncovered, their escapades later became the subject of a best selling book and eventually a high grossing Hollywood movie.

Multiple Decks

One of the ways casinos try to counteract card counting is by using multiple decks, in theory making it harder for anyone counting cards to keep track of the running total. However, this is easily thwarted. If you come up against a dealer using multiple decks in a black jack game, you can still enlist the same Hi-Lo strategy; all you need to do is divide the running count by the number of decks remaining to give you what is commonly called a 'True Count'. It's your true count figure, rather than your running count, that will dictate the advantage when multiple decks are involved, so it's imperative you still keep an accurate running total to enable you to work out the True Count value. For example, if your running total is 5 and there are 2 decks remaining, your true count will be 2.5 (5 divided by 2=2.5)

So Which Strategy Should I Choose?

The Count Far and away the easiest strategy to master is the Hi-Lo approach. For first time card counters it's advisable to start here and see how you get on. As your ability increases you can choose to advance to an alternative strategy should you feel it necessary. No one strategy is superior over another and each one gives you the same advantage over the house, so it really is a case of weighing up the different systems and adopting the approach you feel most comfortable with. A great way to practice is by using one of our free games here at Casino.org, which will enable you to play without having to gamble real money. An advantage of practicing card counting for blackjack online is that you are in the safety and comfort of your own home, although be aware that if you do decide to bet for real money some online casino sites do employ software that shuffles cards almost every time a new hand is dealt, making it increasingly difficult to count cards effectively.

The World's 5 Greatest Card Counters

A Word Of Advice

Word of Advice About Card Counting

At Casino.org, we want to let you know all the details on gambling, therefore, here's something we need to discuss. Although the legal situation for card counting is still undetermined, it is definitely not a practice welcomed with open arms when at a physical casino.

Although a casino and its operator cannot prosecute a card counting player, they can definitely make a situation and matters very unpleasant for someone caught counting cards.

Since casino operators are well aware of the practice of cards being counted, they take quite a few measures to keep you from doing so. You will find cameras for surveillance whenever you look up. Dealers are often switched when a table is considered "hot" by a pit boss. Sometimes, the pit boss will get the dealer to force a shuffle once the hand being dealt is over.

Remember, counting cards can be and is a lucrative strategy that works in your favor. But it is important to be responsible and to respect the rules of the house when you decide to walk into a casino.

Card Counting Facts

Some Interesting Facts About Blackjack

  • Blackjack was actually banned in the USA in the nineteenth century and only became legalized again in 1930.
  • The famous MIT card counting team was actually pretty unsuccessful until Bill Kaplan came on board. His recruitment was the subject of a chance encounter at a Chinese restaurant, which subsequently transformed the fortunes of all involved.
  • Contrary to common misconception counting cards isn't actually an illegal activity. The seats at a Blackjack table are commonly referred to as bases. The seat closest to the dealer is considered first base and the furthest one away is third base. Because of the order of play, a player sitting at third base has the best advantage.
  • Your chances of being dealt Blackjack (21) are 4.8%
  • When card counters work as part of a team it's estimated that the advantage gained over the casino rises to between 2-4%.
  • If you're offered a side bet in a casino don't take it. These only exist to give a significant advantage to the house.
  • When the dealer has between a 2 and a 6 in Blackjack there's a 35-42% change they'll go bust.
  • After 21 and 20, 11 is considered the next best hand to have in Blackjack. This is because you can draw once without the risk of going bust.
  • 16 is widely considered the worst hand to be dealt because statistically it's hard to take another hit without going bust but it's also unlikely to be high enough to be the winning hand.
  • Players inducted into the blackjack hall of fame, at the Barona Casino in San Diego, aren't permitted to play at the casino.
  • The longest Blackjack hand in recorded history happened in August 2011 at The Oracle Casino in Malta, when the dealer spent 51 hours and 33 minutes dealing a single hand.
  • Blackjack tables in casinos are commonly fitted with a 'peeper', a small mirror that allows the dealer to see the next card when it's face down.
  • The fewer decks of cards used during a game, the better it is for players as you will get Blackjack more often. Sadly casinos are aware of this which is why most land based casinos now use multiple decks.

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