Counting cards is used in blackjack to give a player an edge over the casino. Anyone can learn how to count cards with a little bit of practice. Contrary to the popular myth, card counters do not need unusual mental abilities in order to count cards, because they are not tracking and memorizing specific cards. Instead, card counters assign a point score to each card they see that estimates the value of that card, and then they track the sum of these values a process called keeping a "running count." Card counting allows players to bet more with less risk when the count gives an advantage as well as minimize losses during an unfavorable count. Card counting also provides the ability to alter playing decisions based on the composition of remaining cards.

The most common variations of card counting are based on statistical evidence that high cards (especially aces and 10s) benefit the player more than the dealer, while the low cards, (especially 4s, 5s, and 6s) help the dealer while hurting the player. A high concentration of aces and 10s in the deck increases the player's chances of hitting a natural Blackjack, which pays out 3:2 (unless the dealer also has blackjack).

Basic card counting assigns a positive, negative, or zero value to each card value available. When a card of that value is dealt, the count is adjusted by that card's counting value.
Low cards increase the count as they increase the percentage of high cards in the remaining shoe (pack of cards), while high cards decrease it for the opposite reason.
For instance, the Hi-Lo system subtracts one (-1) for each dealt ten, Jack, Queen, King or Ace, and adds one (+1) for any value 2-6. Values 7-9 are assigned a value of zero and therefore do not affect the count.

The High-Low system is considered a single level or level-one count, because the count never increases or decreases by more than a single, predetermined value. A multilevel count, such as Zen Count or Wong Halves, makes finer distinctions between card values to gain greater play accuracy. Rather than all cards having a value of +1, 0, or ?1, an advanced count might also include card ranks that are counted as +2 and ?2, or +0.5.
The disadvantage of higher-level counts is that keeping track of more information can detract from the ability to play quickly and accurately. A card-counter might earn more money by playing a simple count quickly - more hands per hour played - than by playing a complex count slowly.

The following table illustrates a few basic card counting systems:

Card strategy 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A
Hi-Lo +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 0 0 0 -1 -1
Hi-Opt I 0 +1 +1 +1 +1 0 0 0 -1 0
Hi-Opt II +1 +1 +2 +2 +1 +1 0 0 -2 0
KO +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 0 0 -1 -1
Omega II +1 +1 +2 +2 +2 +1 0 -1 -2 0
Red 7 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +0.5 0 0 -1 -1
Zen Count +1 +1 +2 +2 +2 +1 0 0 -2 -1

Understand how it works

If the ratio of high cards to low cards is higher than normal (that is, there are lots of high cards still in the shoe), the player can make bigger bets to increase the amount he/she can win when the deck is favorable. They keep a number in their heads that tells them when to bet and how much to bet - or not to bet at all!
A deck with a positive number is good. The higher the number, the more you want to bet. The higher the number, the more high cards are left to be played and high cards benefits the player more.

Test yourself

Grab a complete deck (without jokers) and rifle through it, keeping track. You should end up at a very round 0 if you've counted the cards accurately.
Aim to get through the deck in under 25 seconds. Start timing yourself when you can get through the deck and end up at 0 every time. Even though the math is very simple, it's easy to get side tracked.
Don't be surprised if you end up with a different number consistently in the beginning stages. Take a card out and leave it face down. Run through the deck and try to figure our which card is it?

When you think you are good into counting we recommend you to also practice in distraction. It's all well and good if you can count cards in the comfort of your own home but in a real casino it's a different story. There a a lot of distraction at the same time. Online casino is a nice alternative. You can play at your own home almost without distraction so maybe you can continue practicing in online casino first and then move to real casino.

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Remember all these strategies will increase your winning chances but it doesn't guarantee you anything. It's nice to have an edge over the casino but you still need to play smart. Don't risk too much especially if you are a beginner into card counting. Set your daily limit of how much money you can lose and stick to it. If you will double your money stop playing for that day. You will quickly do a mistake and lose your money if you will start thinking that you are unbeatable.

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Author: CasinoGuy Published: 2013-11-20

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