With dreams of making easy money, people are always trying to find an edge when it comes to casino games. This is usually an impossible feat, but blackjack is a special case – it actually is possible to beat the house playing it. In contrast with games that are purely luck, blackjack gives you the option to use info from the game to make strategic decisions such as how much to bet.
Blackjack is readily available online, but traditionally blackjack card counting was only possible in brick-and-mortar casinos. This is because card counting relies on being able to estimate the composition of the remaining deck. In regular online blackjack, the end of each hand means that the virtual deck is shuffled, which means that there is nothing to gain from keeping track of past cards. Card counting in online blackjack is now a possibility, however, thanks to the advent of live dealer blackjack. This is due to the fact that these games are dealt by real dealers using real cards, just like in a brick-and-mortar casino.
There is a single principle that makes card counting work. Face cards and aces are more favorable for the player than they are to the dealer. There are two reasons for this:
First of all, the player can make choices on when to stop taking a card, whereas the dealer plays the same strategy every single time. Usually the dealer has to hit until they reach 17 to 21 or they bust. When more face cards than other cards remain in the deck, there is a greater chance of the dealer busting. The opposite is also true. When the remaining deck mostly contains low cards, it is less likely that the dealer will bust before making a hand. This explains the statement that face cards are best for the player, while low cards help the dealer.
Secondly, aces help the player way more than they help the dealer. There is a simple reason for this. Making blackjack means that the player gets 1.5 times their bet. The player only loses their original bet when the dealer makes blackjack, however, which is the same result had the dealer just won with a 17.
The Hi-Lo count is a simple but effective way of card counting. In this strategy, face cards, tens, and aces are given a value of -1, and then the cards 2 to 6 are assigned a value of +1. Cards 7, 8 and 9 have a value of 0 in this counting method.
Hi-Lo Card Counting
As the cards are dealt from the same deck, you keep a running total of the values in your head. For example, seeing the cards 4 9 Q A 3 4 2 would mean that you add everything together like so:
+1 0 -1 (total = 0) -1 +1 (total = 0) +1 +1 = +2
Once you’ve added it all up, the +2 count says that there are two fewer bad (small) cards in the deck compared to the good (high) cards. In other words, there is a better chance of now being dealt high cards than low cards, which is good for you. All it takes now to beat the casino is betting larger when the count is good!
When you have a positive count, in this case +2, you should increase the size of your bet relative to the size of the positive count. If we were playing single deck blackjack, then at +1, you add 1 additional bet to your normal betting amount. ie – if your standard bet is $10, then you would bet $20 here. In our case of +2, then you would add two bets to your standard bet next and bet $30.
In the case of multiple decks, you would divide (or estimate) the “true count” by dividing your number with the number of decks of cards left to play in the shoe. ie – if your count is +6 early on in a 6-deck shoe, then you would divide the +6 by the number of decks left in the shoe (6) and end up with the true count of +1 – so here you would add 1 bet to your standard bet.
Your Count Determines Your Bet Amount!
This introduction is very basic, but we will add more strategy articles on blackjack card counting in the future. In the meantime, we recommend you practice blackjack basic strategy. You can learn and practice blackjack strategy at Blackjack-Trainer.net. Counting cards won’t help you if you cannot play perfect blackjack strategy.
You can also practice your blackjack card counting when playing live dealer blackjack. As you gain experience counting cards playing online, that practice will translate to when you physically go to a brick and mortar casino.
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