Blackjack Card Counting

It’s difficult to beat the house in any casino game! In blackjack, card counting is a completely legitimate strategy and one which, if learned correctly, can give any player an edge. One of the best things about it is that not every player can learn it, so if you can card count, it gives you a huge advantage over your fellow gamblers.

Most people think it nearly impossible to count cards and you need a photographic memory, or to be genius to succeed, but nothing is further from the truth. Instead of counting specific card points, the technique is to work out a total score, or a count. Still, card counting remains totally impossible when playing blackjack online. Indeed, as a rule no casino will tell how many decks of cards are used and most of the time the results for each upcoming hand are totally random.

Blackjack Card Counting System

There a large number of strategies when it comes to counting cards – well over 100 according to some sources. Some are very complicated and if you’re new to card counting, it makes sense to start with some basic systems and become an expert early on, before trying your hand at anything more complex.

Popular Systems

Nearly all systems are a variation on the digital system that computers use. Instead of looking at the face value of cards, a system will assign a value of 1, 0 or -1 to each card. As cards are dealt, a player keeps a running tally based on the 1, 0,-1 system. The higher the total count, the more likely it is that a high value card is to be dealt, and these are the cards that all blackjack players want. So, small value cards – typically 2-7 – are assigned +1 and high point cards are assigned -1 value. Other cards are assigned the neutral 0. The way different systems assign points to card depends on the system you choose. Let’s look at some of the basic card counting systems.

Hi-Lo Card Counting

This is arguably the most basic strategy and is used mainly by beginners.

Cards Value
2, 3, 4, 5, 6 +1
7, 8, 9 0
10, J, Q, K, Ace -1

As the cards are dealt and the score mounts, a player would increase his bet as the tally gets higher: this is an indication that the probability of a high point card is improving. Players must divide the total by the number of cards left in the deck to get a true score.

KO Count

Cards Value
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 +1
8, 9 0
10, J, Q, K, Ace -1

The KO system differs from the Hi Lo system by assigning a +1 to 7s. The final theoretical tally count using the KO system is 4, so a card counter can tell straight away from the tally whether the odds are in his favor or not of a high value card being dealt.

Hi-Opt I

Cards Value
2 0
3, 4, 5, 6 +1
7, 8, 9 0
10, J, Q, K -1
Ace 0

The Hi-Opt 1 system is different from the previous two versions in that it assigns a neutral score any Aces dealt. The more Aces that have been dealt reduce a player’s chance to win, but increases winnings dramatically when an Ace is dealt.

Hi-Opt 2

Cards Value
2, 3 +1
4, 5 +2
6, 7 +1
8, 9 0
10, J, Q, K -2
Ace 0

This kind of blackjack strategy is a little more complex than the previous ones, with more values for different groups of cards. This is a zero rated counter, which means you need to divide the tally with the estimated number of cards still to be dealt to get the true tally. As with the other card counting systems, the object is to determine the chances of high value cards – the 10s and Ace – being dealt.

With a higher count, it means the probability of beating the dealer improves and you can consider increasing your bet to improve your payout.

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