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Card Counting in Live Blackjack

Blackjack Values

If you are in love with blackjack and are looking to up your blackjack game, then you may want to know about card counting in blackjack. Counting cards is one of the game's easiest skill to learn, but it may be difficult to master. Get yourself equipped with this blackjack card counting guide, and you'll be playing like a professional in a few steps.

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What is Card Counting?

Card counting is the blackjack technique that you can use when you keep track of the number of low and high cards that are remaining in the dealers' deck. If you count cards successfully, you can easily choose to raise your bet once you know that the odds are in the game are in your favor, making you a lot more likely to win big. Note that card counting is not a skill for knowing how to always win at blackjack, or ways to cheat in the game of blackjack.

How does Live Blackjack Card Counting Work?

To properly count cards, whether in a casino or in an online blackjack game, all that you need to do is keep a running tally on the face value of any of the cards that are revealed.

Learn to count cards in blackjack with these four simple steps:

  1. Begin by assigning each card value of either +1 ( use this for cards 2-6), 0 ( use this for cards 7-9), or -1 ( use this for cards 10-Ace).
  2. In order to keep a running count with every card the dealer pulls from the deck, you must use the values as mentioned above.
  3. Provided you are able to keep an accurate count as the dealer deals each card, you will successfully monitor the running value of the cards that are left in the deck.
  4. After every round, if you get a negative count, increase your bet size. This is simply because there will be lots of low-value cards left in the dealer's deck. If the count is on the positive side, you must lower your bet size instead.

 If you are playing blackjack correctly, the house edge is always around 0.5%. If you play well and you are able to master card counting, then you will be playing with a 1% advantage over the house!

Can You Count Cards in Online Blackjack?

Yes, if you want to count cards while playing blackjack online, you can. Although, most of the online casinos make use of software that shuffles the playing cards whenever a new hand is dealt, and that makes it somewhat tricky.

You should never join a land-based blackjack table and count cards if you have not practiced well and mastered card counting online. A great way for you to practice is by trying a free blackjack game online.

If you choose to play blackjack for real money online, take note that some sites use card shuffling software each time a new hand is dealt. It becomes more difficult to count cards online and win any money when a shuffling software is used.

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Basic Card Counting Strategy

The most basic blackjack card counting strategy for starters is known as the Hi-Lo strategy.

In this card counting strategy, the high cards ( which as 10 - Ace, with face cards) are given a specific value of -1. The Low cards (which are between 2 - 6 in any suit) are given a +1 value. All other cards ( which are 7 - 9) will count as 0.

This strategy is totally straightforward for a beginner to start card counting while playing blackjack online or doing so at a land-based casino.

As the dealer on your table deals you a card, you have to make a mental note of the card's value. If, for instance, the card is a number ten, you have to count it as -1. If the card dealt after it is a three, it has the value of +1. Now your sum total stands at 0.

The idea here is that with every new card dealt, you continue this calculation without breaking your total until the dealer reshuffle. The total is known as the 'running count.

Summary: How you can count cards as a beginner in 4 Steps

  • Attach a value to every card (+1, 0, or -1)
  • Keep track and recall the value of each card
  • Add the values of each card to find out the sum of the cards in the deck – that is the Running Count
  • Always bet according to your calculated card count, as said above.

Advanced Card Counting Strategies

Once you have memorized the basic skill of Hi-Lo card counting, you are likely done with having to count cards off your fingers. When you need to progress to techniques that are more complex, you have countless options to pick from.

Card Counting table

Omega II

The Omega II is a technique seen as a 'balanced' system, where your base is 0. Bryce Carlson created this and scribbled a book on the art of card counting back in 1992. Omega 11 is more sophisticated than the technic discussed before. The values of classic +1,0 and -1.

  • 2, 3 or 7 are all valued as 1
  • 4, 5 and 6 are all valued as 2
  • 9 is always valued as -1
  • 10 and every other face cards are valued at -2
  • 8 and Ace cards are always valued at 0

A positive count here reflects that there are more low cards present in the deck that is being dealt with. A negative count only means that a large number of high valued cards are still in the deck.

Wong Halves

The name for this card counting system is derived from its maker Stanford Wong. It's considered an advanced card counting strategy because of its assigned values, most of which are fractions.

  • 3, 4 and 6 are always valued as 1
  • 2 and 7 are always valued at 0.5
  • 5 is always valued as 1.5
  • 8 is always valued as 0
  • 9 is always valued as -0.5
  • 10, Ace and face cards are valued as -1

Wong Halves is considered a 'balanced' system, which means that when a deck is wholly shared, your count will be 0. You can simplify this strategy by doubling up all of the values to skip using a fraction.

These are the basics of card counting in live blackjack, and you can start counting today using them.