Counting Cards in a Blackjack Game

Counting Cards in a Blackjack Game

Tutorial on Cards Counting in Blackjack Games

First, have a clear idea of what counting cards means. It is the calculation of how rich the deck part with the cards still undealt is in high cards, or whether many low cards remain in it. Many high cards mean a perk for the player, and many low cards a perk for the dealer. What is more important, if the deck part with remaining cards is filled with low cards, there is a very slim chance of a Blackjack.

In card counting, a number is assigned to each card denomination: a plus, or a minus. After the deck shuffling the count will start from zero again. After the exposing of the cards, you must add, or subtract, the number going with the denomination from the count. The updated number is caller Running Count.

Below please see an instance of the Hi-Opt I system of counting, with the following numbers which go with the cards:

Card 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A
Count 0 +1 +1 +1 +1 0 0 0 -1 -1 -1 -1 0

In short, tens count as minus 1. The cards from three to six count as plus one. The other cards do not participate in the counting.

We offer an instance of the Running Count for two hands in a game:

Card Dealt Count Running Count
First Hand
Jack -1 -1
8 0 -1
3 +1 0
5 +1 +1
4 +1 +2
10 -1 -1
Second Hand
Ace 0 -1
5 +1 0
Queen -1 -1
Ten -1 -2
King -1 -3
10 -1 -4


As you can notice, in the second hand, a lot of tens are dealt: so the Running Count is negative. In another example, if most cards dealt are between 3 and 6, it will be positive. A negative count for the deck means there is an abundance of low cards, a positive count means most low cards have been already dealt.

The existing counting systems are different; not all start from zero, and with a deck newly shuffled. Some systems are balanced, because if you get a complete deck and count the whole of it, the final Running Count will be zero. There, too, are unbalanced counting systems, which do not finish at zero, when the counting is done for the whole deck.

Use the Running Count for judging how much you should bet, and, too, to judge what you should do, hit, or stand, or double. The Running Count can help you to understand if the deck has many high cards, so there is a great likelihood of a Blackjack to be dealt. Card counting is effective when it is used with Basic Strategy. So if you do not abide strictly by that strategy, it is not good to decide using card counting as a tool.

Most commonly, multiple decks are used. Then you should alter your Running Count and get what is termed the True Count. You must alter, or adjust the Running Count, taking into consideration how many decks remain. You should also apply another factor, called Penetration: what portion of the deck is dealt, before the dealer does the shuffling. When more cards are dealt, prior to the shuffling, the Penetration is higher, so your count will tell you most accurately what you must expect. You should not rely on Penetration which is 70% or less.

After dividing the Running Count by the number of remaining undealt decks, you get the True Count. For instance, with Running Count of 10, and 2 decks left, you get a True Count of 5.

You can do your progressive betting with the True Count as basis. That means you will bet higher with the increase in the count. The table below illustrates using progressive betting on the basis of True Count, for a normal bet of $10 per hand:

True Count You must multiply your normal bet by: Calculating the Bet: Your bet amount for this hand:
+1 1 1 x 10 $ 10
+2 to +3 2 2 x 10 $ 20
+4 to +5 3 3 x 10 $ 30
+6 to +7 4 4 x 10 $ 40
+8 or more 5 5 x 10 $ 50


You must also note the availability of failsafes in progressive betting. For example, one failsafe is not to up your bet if you are not winning. The progressive strategy has a lot of components, so we cannot recommend you a specific strategy, or say that a specific strategy is the best. Our purpose is to inform you about the options you have.

Finally, we must advise you to do the counting very quickly. Card counting does the best work when at the table there are fewer players. So if the deck is favorable, you must not feel afraid it will be diluted by the players, before the time comes for dealing your cards. To get better, you must practice in an environment with distractions, for example at home, when the TV is on, and when your household members are distracting you with their talking. You must practice until you get the knack of counting really quickly. When you can already count fast, you will not attract suspicion at the table. Casinos dislike card counting, so if you arouse suspicious, you risk being banned.

To sum it up

Card counting can be useful, providing you with an advantage in playing. It is a simple technique, but practicing is needed before you become a veritable master.

Do not join the opinion that counting the cards in gaming has a lot to do with memorizing. Fortunately, this is a system with which you can keep a kind of record of the ratio that is formed of the two types of cards, high and low ones, and using that, you can decide what action you must undertake.

Let us once again make a kind of plan regarding your future line of action in the counting process:

  • First, you must assign a value to each of the cards.
  • Second, you must do the Running Count regarding the cards dealt.
  • Thirdly, the Running Count gives you information, so that you can make out the count per the deck, also called True Count.
  • Finally, you can use the information to change the bets in the game, as the True Count goes up.

You must always remember the important fact: casinos do not favor this technique. So you must learn to do counting imperceptibly. Although card counting is not ruled as illegal, the casino where you are playing will not like your use of the technique and can take measures to stop your gaming there. With practice you can learn to make out the situation and take decisions very quickly. Thus you can avoid being noticed as a player using the technique to gain advantage.

We wish you success in the mastering of counting the cards. With more and more practice by the Blackjack table, you will become better and better and will be able to work out the ratio of the cards, whether the ones remaining in the shoe are mostly high cards, so that you can up your bet, or when the ratio is in favor of low cards, and bet a lesser amount, or, if necessary, not bet at all.

Please note that to avoid arousing suspicion on part of the casino, you must not increase your bet by a 1 for each of the points in the tally increase. Should you raise your bet more drastically, you will make yourself noticed quickly.

Edward Griffin


Edward Griffin

Hey I'm Edward Griffin, one of the people behind I have been living, playing and working in the online casino world for the past 15 years. I am here to help you make the most informed decisions for your online casino experience.