Amongst all the casino online games one can play, blackjack remains one of the most skilled games to play. To become a professional player in blackjack you don’t only need to be skilled, you also need to have a few tricks up your sleeve and one of those tricks is counting cards. Lucky for you, you made it to this blog post, in this guide, I’ll be teaching you about blackjack card values and how to count blackjack cards.
Just like every other strategy, card counting is not foolproof and as such, you’ll have to deal with some risks since you won’t be able to know which cards will come up. However, you don’t have to worry because there are ways around it.
When it comes to counting cards in blackjack, it requires that you are good with numbers – don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to be a math wiz or win a national mathematical olympiad. Rather you’ll need to be able to see patterns and understand rules if you want to have an edge in the game or be one step ahead. Even though you may have to deal with the house advantage, one thing is important, in the game of blackjack, numbers always rule. In this guide, you’ll be learning how to count blackjack cards (making the numbers work for you).
How to count cards in Blackjack
You can count blackjack cards in several ways. In this guide, however, I’ll be showing you three ways through which you can count blackjack cards.
The three methods you can use in counting blackjack cards include:
- The Hi-Lo system.
- The meaningful pairs technique.
- The true count.
The Hi-Lo System
Blackjack card counting can be done using the Hi-Lo system. The system breaks all the cards into values into high cards, neutral cards, and low cards.
High cards: The card types assigned the title “high cards” include 10, J, Q, K, A, and their corresponding value is -1.
Neutral cards: The card types assigned the title “neutral cards” include 7, 8, 9, and their corresponding value is 0.
Low cards: The card types assigned the title “low cards” include 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and their corresponding value is 1.
In blackjack, high cards benefit players, so why do they carry a negative value? They have a negative value because fewer high cards are left in the deck and not in the player’s hands which further decreases his advantage. Low cards on the other hand are more beneficial to the dealer which is the reason why they have a +1 value. 7, 8, and 9 cards are not beneficial to the player or the banker that’s why they have the value 0.
The Hi-Lo strategy is known as a balanced counting system because the neutral cards, high cards, and low cards in the deck sum up to 0. With that in mind, the strategy requires you to calculate a running total of all the cards played during the game both yours and the dealers – this is known as the running count. Not explanatory enough right? Let me explain.
The strategy starts right from the time the dealer introduce a new shoe to the table. Since no cards are being dealt yet, the running count at that moment is 0. Depending on the blackjack game you are playing, the cards will be dealt in a particular manner around the table. Once that happens, you’ll have to look and start counting all the cards dealt so far.
Note: In counting blackjack cards, if the running cards are increasing that means you, the player has the advantage and you should increase your bets but if it’s decreasing then you should reduce your bets to minimise the loss.
The Meaningful Pairs Technique
This technique is no different from the Hi-Lo strategy used above. Counting using the Hi-Lo system can be slow and stressful on the other hand using the meaningful pairs technique is a faster way to go about it. This technique was popularized by Mike Aponte, an MIT Blackjack Team member. With this technique, rather than counting the cards as they appear, calculate the running count in pairs and with time you’ll realize that the pairs cancel each other out which helps you in reducing the number of mistakes you can make.
Counting cards so far may seem easy but if you prefer playing online you’d realize it’s harder to count the cards and why is that so? Online casinos complicate the system by adding a bunch of decks to the system and because of that, it becomes difficult to accurately determine the number of high and low cards left in the shoe. That’s where the true count comes in. The true count system helps the player to know their stand at any point in any multi-deck blackjack game. Running counts won’t work with online casinos so you have to convert to true counts and to do that, you’ll have to divide your running count by the number of decks remaining in the game and round it to the nearest half-deck.