Card Counting Blackjack Strategy

Card Counting

In Blackjack Card Counting is the only chance for the player to get a long term, statistical advantage over the casino. The main principle of card counting is that a deck with high proportion of high cards (ten-valued cards and aces) to low cards is good for the player, while the opposite situation (a deck with a high proportion of low cards to high cards) is good for the dealer. Despite the popular myth, a player does not have to be brilliant to be able to start counting cards since the player doesn’t track or memorize specific cards. Instead, card counter applies heuristic point score to each card he sees and then track only the total score which is called the “count”. Card counting is not that difficult and it requires just simple addition, and possibly division, depending on the system the counter uses. Nowadays the casinos have made the game tougher to beat, they use 8 deck shoes and have low deck penetration.

If you have decided to learn card counting first you must learn Basic Strategy. This strategy is mathematically valid and if you want to become a successful card counter, Basic Strategy has to become your second nature.

If you want to make money, bet more when you have an edge and less when the casino has the edge. For example, if the odds are in your favor then bet $50, if they are against you then bet $5. This difference between the two amounts of bets is known as the "bet spread".

Different counting systems

Different counting systems can be classified different ways. You should choose card counting system according to your skill level. We suggest to your attention the following classification:

Balanced vs. Unbalanced Card Count System

Balanced vs. Unbalanced Card Count System

In a "balanced" card counting system, the total of all the point counts in a 52 card deck will add up to 0. In an "unbalanced" system the sum of all the cards is positive. Balanced strategies have an advantage in that they are generally more accurate and they make the counting easier. They require conversions from the running count to a true count, in other words, the count works perfectly in a single deck game, but in a multiple deck game, the number of decks and the penetration into the deal has to be considered when you decide to raise a bet. In an unbalanced system, the number of decks is taken into account by the starting value when counting. This compensates for the multiple decks. In a balanced count, the count begins at 0, but in an unbalanced count, the count starts with a number that corresponds to how many decks are in use, in order to compensate for the increased number of decks.

Ace-Reckoned vs. Ace-Neutral

Ace-Reckoned vs. Ace-Neutral

When you count, the Ace is counted as a negative number (Ace-reckoned) or zero (Ace-neutral). Ace-Reckoned strategies are better for shoe games and Ace-Neutral strategies are better for single and double deck. Nowadays Ace-reckoned strategies are much more popular.

Level

Level

The level of a strategy refers to the highest value assigned to cards. Level 2 and 3 card counting strategies are more effective, but they are more difficult for the average people. Multi level systems for counting cards give different values to different cards, sometimes counting some cards as +2 or +3, or -2 or -3. These systems provide a more accurate gauge of the player's advantage. The most popular strategy is a level 1. In this strategy, the high cards are counted as -1 and the low cards are counted as +1. When the running count gets high enough, the player has an advantage because there are more high cards than low left in the deck.

Side Counts

Side Counts

Some strategies, like the strategy used in The World's Greatest Blackjack book, use one or more side counts. The most common is counting the Aces in a separate count to make betting more accurate in Ace-neutral systems. This is because Aces are large cards for the purposes of betting but small cards for the purposes of playing when you don't have a Blackjack.

You can read about the most popular Card Counting Systems in the next seccions.

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