Card Counting In Blackjack Games

Card Counting In Blackjack Games

As the game of blackjack became more popular in the 20th century, players began to seek out ways to beat the game. Basic strategy offered reasonable odds of beating the house, but mathematically minded players looked into the game and the odds to find ways to win more frequently. Out of this analysis blackjack card counting was born and since it was devised it's became the weapon of choice for professional players. However, while blackjack card counting strategy is still practiced by some live players, the strategy does not work for online blackjack.

  • Counting cards is a fun live blackjack challenge
  • Beware of land-based casinos watching for card counters
  • Card counting is not a practical online blackjack strategy

Learning to count cards in blackjack is a fun mind exercise and test and it can be a profitable way to beat the odds at live blackjack. Unfortunately, however, becoming an online blackjack card counter isn't such a profitable endeavour because random number generators ensure fair play. Moreover, because it's unclear how many decks the casino is using - basically because the random number generator doesn't mimic the flow of cards from a deck, instead it simply churns out random results - you can't carry out the necessary calculations to gain a true count.

How Card Counting Began

Counting cards is more than just a strategy used to win big, it is a great challenging exercise and a huge skill builder, are you ready for the challenge?

The process of blackjack card counting is one that requires concentration and focus, as well as a math-based mindset. Players who practice card counting and use it in live casino play often make money doing so but risk being caught by casinos. While the practice is not illegal, casinos have the right to deny players access to games if they are thought to be counting cards because the player edge is so great. However, blackjack card counting online doesn't pose this risk because random number generators keep the cards in motion regardless of the decks in play. The downside to this benefit, however, is that online blackjack card counting is almost impossible.

The first person to truly explain blackjack card counting strategy was Dr. Edward Thorp, a mathematician who wrote a book called "Beat the Dealer" in 1962. Some players were already practicing card counting methods, but casinos were quick to catch on and altered their dealing techniques to counter their win-rates. Other card counters went on to write books about the systems they used and as a result the process was honed throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Following the evolution of blackjack card counting strategy, Ken Uston introduced the idea of card counting teams and that idea quickly caught on.

When putting together a blackjack card counting team, the first process to take place is a "big player" being sent to hot tables after a spotter has counted cards and decided the player has an advantage. The "big player" then (unsurprisingly) bets big at the table and leaves when the count drops. Throughout this process the spotters give signals to the players and the end goal is that everyone helps each other and the profits are split accordingly at the end of the session.

Blackjack Card Counting Strategy in Action

Card Counting Strategy In Blackjack GamesThe strategy of using a card counting team was employed by the famous MIT blackjack team. Hailing from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this group of mathematically gifted blackjack card counters reportedly won millions of dollars during their time at the felt and such was their success that their story has been made into several books and movies. During the MIT blackjack card counting team's run it's estimated that they took various casinos for $8 million and because of this practice became a lot more dangerous. Because casinos were now aware of how effective card counting is, they started to pay much more attention to anyone using this betting strategy.

Indeed, it's not the case that if a member of a casino's staff believes a player may be counting cards they will try to eject and ban them from the property. However, the important thing to remember is that it doesn't matter if you're engaging in blackjack card counting online or in a live casino, it IS NOT illegal.

Although casino proprietors will lead you to believe otherwise, the reality of the situation is that you cannot be prosecuted for blackjack card counting. Indeed, in the past numerous people have been deemed not guilty of fraud by various judges because card counting is simply a process of tracking the deck. However, despite blackjack card counting being nothing more than a profitable use of numbers, casinos will still try to convince you that it's cheating.

How Do You Count Cards in Blackjack?

In a nutshell, card counting involves tracking the deck so that you can ascertain when it’s more likely the cards are stacked in your favour. When there are a greater number of high cards left in the deck then it is deemed to be in the player’s favour. In contrast, when the deck is laden with low cards, it’s the dealer who holds the advantage.

Establishing this fact is important as many people wrongly assume that blackjack card counting strategy is some clever trick used by players to cheat the casino out of thousands of dollars. In reality, this misnomer couldn’t be further from the truth as blackjack card counting simply involves adding and subtracting numbers to establish the dynamics of the deck.

Card Counting In Blackjack

So how do you count cards in blackjack? Basically, all you need to know in order to count cards is that anything between 2 and 6 is given a value of +1 and anything between 10 and Ace is given a value of -1. Finally, any 7, 8 or 9 is neutral and not counted.

Once you’ve generated a running total you need to convert it into a true count by dividing your number by the size of the deck left, e.g. 2 decks = divided by 2.

Using this system you simply keep count as the cards are removed from the deck and you adjust your betting accordingly. Thus, if you’re halfway through a count and your total is high, then this means there are a great number of high value cards left in the deck. In this situation it’s wise to increase your bets as it’s more likely you will make strong hands and beat the dealer.

For all its potential benefits, counting cards only gives the player a slightly better chance of winning than the average player. So, while some players might be able to take a casino for millions, it takes work. Moreover, in general, an online blackjack card counter won't have anywhere near the same success because a virtual casino will use a random number generator and not decks of cards. However, that doesn't mean online blackjack card counting is impossible. Because a number of operators now use live dealer tables, it makes it possible to carry out blackjack card counting online because real decks of cards are used.

Is Blackjack Card Counting For You?

If you're thinking about using this information to form a card counting team and bolster your bankroll then the most important thing to bear in mind is the medium through which you intend to play. If you're going to battle with a brick-and-mortar establishment then it's a viable strategy; however, if you're planning to become an online blackjack card counter, then it's not worth it. To thrive in the online arena it's better to follow a betting chart which outlines the best mathematical moves to make in all situations.