How To Count Cards In Black Jack

roy court
July 25, 2023
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How To Count Cards In Black Jack: Counting cards in blackjack is a skillful strategy that can give players a statistical edge over the casino. While it’s often portrayed in movies as a secret weapon for beating the house, card counting is a legitimate technique based on mathematical principles. By keeping track of the cards that have been dealt, players can estimate the remaining deck’s composition and adjust their betting accordingly.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the art of card counting in blackjack. We’ll explore various card counting methods, from beginner-friendly systems like the Hi-Lo method to more advanced techniques used by seasoned players. Step-by-step, we will break down the process of counting cards, explaining how to assign values to different cards and maintain an accurate running count during gameplay.

However, it’s crucial to understand that card counting is not a guaranteed path to riches. While it does give players an advantage, success still relies on sound blackjack strategy, bankroll management, and a dash of luck. Moreover, casinos are aware of card counting and may implement countermeasures to discourage or thwart such practices. As such, we’ll also discuss essential tips for staying discreet and avoiding detection while counting cards.

How do you count cards in blackjack?

The standard blackjack card counting technique uses the following values for the cards:

  • 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 – Each worth +1.
  • 7, 8, 9 – Each worth 0.
  • 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace – Each worth -1.

Counting cards in blackjack is a strategy used by skilled players to gain an advantage over the casino. The method involves keeping track of the cards that have been played to assess the remaining deck’s composition. By doing so, players can estimate the likelihood of high or low-value cards being dealt in subsequent hands.

The most popular card counting system is the Hi-Lo method. In this technique, cards are assigned specific values: low cards (2 to 6) receive a +1, neutral cards (7 to 9) have a value of 0, and high cards (10 to Ace) are assigned a -1. As the game progresses, the player mentally tallies the running count based on the cards seen on the table.

When the count becomes significantly positive, indicating an abundance of high cards in the deck, the player can increase their bets to capitalize on the higher chances of drawing blackjack or getting strong hands. Conversely, when the count is negative, suggesting an excess of low cards, the player might decrease their bets to minimize potential losses.

It is important to note that card counting requires considerable skill, concentration, and practice, and casinos frown upon this practice. They may take measures to prevent or discourage card counters, such as reshuffling the deck more frequently or asking suspected counters to leave the table.  

How To Count Cards In Black Jack

Is it illegal to count cards in blackjack?

Contrary to popular belief, it is not against the law to count cards while playing blackjack. This doesn’t mean that casino management won’t ask you to leave if they catch you.

The legality of card counting in blackjack varies depending on the jurisdiction and the specific casino’s rules. In most places, counting cards is not considered illegal, as it involves using one’s skill and mental ability rather than cheating or manipulating the game itself. However, despite not being illegal, casinos have the right to refuse service to players they suspect of counting cards.

In some regions, casinos may have the legal right to ban card counters from their premises. This is because gambling establishments are private businesses, and they can establish their own rules and policies as long as they comply with relevant laws. If a player is caught counting cards or suspected of doing so, the casino may ask them to leave the table or even the entire casino.

While card counting itself is not illegal, some methods used by players to gain an advantage, such as using electronic devices or collaborating with others, may be considered illegal in certain jurisdictions. 

It’s essential for players to understand the laws and regulations regarding card counting in their specific location and adhere to the casino’s rules to avoid any legal repercussions or conflicts with casino management. As always, responsible and ethical gaming practices are encouraged within the boundaries of the law.

How do you count the number of cards?

Counting Cards Can Be Broken Into 4 Steps:

  • Assign a value to every card.
  • Keep a “Running Count” based off of the values of the card dealt.
  • Use this information to calculate the count per deck or “true count”
  • Change your bets as the true count rises.

Counting the number of cards in a deck or a hand is a straightforward process. In a standard deck of 52 cards, there are four suits (hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades), each containing 13 cards (Ace through 10 and face cards: Jack, Queen, and King).

To count the cards in a deck, you simply need to keep track of how many cards you have seen and how many are remaining. For example, if you draw a card from the deck and put it aside, there are now 51 cards left. Repeat this process until all cards have been counted.

When counting cards during a game of blackjack or any other card game, you keep track of the cards that have been played to assess the composition of the remaining deck. This type of card counting is more complex and involves assigning specific values to cards based on a card counting system (e.g., Hi-Lo method). Players mentally add or subtract these values as cards are revealed during the game.

Card counting in blackjack requires focus, practice, and a keen eye for detail. It is not about memorizing each card but rather keeping a running tally of high and low-value cards to gauge the deck’s favorability for certain hands.  

What does “counting cards” mean in blackjack?

Counting cards in blackjack is a strategy used by players to track the ratio of high-value cards (10s and aces) to low-value cards (2 to 6) remaining in the deck or shoe. By keeping track of the card distribution, players can make more informed betting and playing decisions.

“Counting cards” in blackjack refers to a strategic technique employed by skilled players to keep track of the cards that have been dealt during a game. The primary purpose of counting cards is to gain an advantage over the casino by predicting the likelihood of certain cards remaining in the deck.

In blackjack, the cards that have been dealt directly influence the odds of drawing certain cards in subsequent hands. When a disproportionate number of high-value cards (10s, face cards, and Aces) remain in the deck, players have a higher probability of getting blackjack (a hand totaling 21) and hitting strong hands.  

Card counting systems, such as the popular Hi-Lo method, assign specific values to different cards. Players mentally keep a running count of these values as cards are revealed. The count informs the player when the deck is favorable for betting more aggressively or when to be more conservative.

It is important to note that card counting is not cheating but rather a skill-based strategy that takes considerable practice to master. While it is legal, casinos may discourage or prohibit card counting by implementing countermeasures, such as reshuffling the deck more frequently or asking suspected card counters to leave the table.

What is the best card counting strategy?

Hi-Lo is by far the most popular card counting strategy. In this strategy, if the ratio of high cards to low cards is higher than normal (that is, there are lots of high cards still in the shoe), the player can make bigger bets to increase the amount they can win when the deck is favorable.

Determining the “best” card counting strategy in blackjack depends on various factors, including a player’s skill level, risk tolerance, and the specific rules of the game they are playing. However, the Hi-Lo method is widely regarded as one of the most effective and popular card counting strategies.

The Hi-Lo strategy is relatively easy to learn and implement, making it accessible to both beginners and experienced players. In this system, cards are assigned specific values: low cards (2 to 6) receive a +1, neutral cards (7 to 9) have a value of 0, and high cards (10 to Ace) are assigned a -1.  

More advanced card counting strategies, such as the Zen Count, Wong Halves, or Omega II, offer greater accuracy but are also more complex to use. These strategies may be favored by experienced players who have invested significant time in mastering their skills and are comfortable with more intricate counting systems.

Ultimately, the best card counting strategy for any individual will depend on their dedication to practice, understanding of the game, and willingness to adapt their approach to different blackjack scenarios. Regardless of the strategy chosen, it is vital to remain discreet and ethical while counting cards in a casino setting.

How To Count Cards In Black Jack

Is counting cards a skill?

Card counting is a hard skill to master so you’ll need to put in a lot of work before you’re ready to head to a casino. And when you do, even if you can count cards better than the MIT team, you’re going to get caught out eventually.

Counting cards is a controversial practice often associated with the game of blackjack. It involves mentally tracking the ratio of high to low-value cards remaining in the deck to gain a strategic advantage over the casino. While some argue that counting cards is a skill, others view it as an unfair advantage and even illegal in some jurisdictions.

Advocates of card counting claim that it demands a high level of concentration, memory, and mathematical ability. Players must keep track of multiple variables while maintaining composure in a fast-paced casino environment. Additionally, they argue that since casinos permit players to use their minds and make strategic decisions, counting cards should be considered a legitimate skill.

On the other hand, opponents argue that counting cards gives players an unfair edge over the house, disrupting the casino’s odds and risking financial losses. Casinos spend significant resources to deter card counters, implementing continuous shuffling machines and banning identified counters from their premises.

Legally, the stance on card counting varies by region. While some places consider it a skillful strategy, others view it as a form of cheating. Regardless of its classification, card counting remains a topic of debate in the gambling community, with enthusiasts defending it as a skillful technique and critics dismissing it as an unethical practice.

How does card counting work?

Card counting is a strategic technique predominantly used in blackjack, aimed at gaining an advantage over the casino by tracking the ratio of high to low-value cards remaining in the deck. The method relies on the fact that certain cards, particularly high-value ones like tens and aces, favor the player, while low-value cards favor the dealer.

The process typically begins with assigning a point value to each card. High cards, such as tens, face cards (kings, queens, and jacks), and aces, are assigned negative values, while low cards, usually from 2 to 6, are assigned positive values. Cards in the middle range (7 to 9) are assigned a neutral value of zero.

As the game progresses and cards are dealt, the card counter mentally keeps track of the running count by adding and subtracting the point values of the cards that have been played. A higher positive count indicates that more low-value cards have been dealt, leaving a higher proportion of high-value cards in the deck. This is the moment when the player increases their bet and gains an advantage, as the likelihood of getting strong hands like blackjack increases.

Card counting, however, requires significant skill and practice. Casinos are vigilant in detecting counters and often use countermeasures like reshuffling mid-deck or banning suspected players from their premises. Additionally, card counting is not applicable in games with continuous shuffling machines, making it a technique that demands careful consideration of the game’s rules and circumstances.

Should I use card counting in online blackjack games?

Using card counting in online blackjack games is not a practical or effective strategy. Unlike in brick-and-mortar casinos, online blackjack games use sophisticated random number generators (RNGs) to shuffle the cards after each hand, making it virtually impossible to track card sequences accurately.

Card counting relies on the assumption that the composition of the deck remains relatively consistent throughout the game. Since online casinos employ automatic shuffling algorithms, each hand starts with a freshly randomized deck, nullifying any efforts to count cards from one hand to the next.

Moreover, online casinos are well aware of card counting techniques and take measures to ensure fair play and prevent any form of advantage play. They often have strict anti-fraud and anti-card counting measures in place to maintain the integrity of their games.

Attempting to use card counting in online blackjack may also lead to negative consequences. Instead of relying on card counting, players can focus on learning basic blackjack strategy, which can help improve their odds in online games. 

It’s essential to remember that online blackjack, like all casino games, is designed to be ultimately in favor of the house, and no strategy can guarantee consistent winnings in the long run. Play responsibly and for entertainment purposes, recognizing that luck plays a significant role in the outcome of each hand.

How To Count Cards In Black Jack


Learning how to count cards in blackjack can be a powerful tool for players seeking an edge in the game. It allows them to make more informed decisions based on the cards’ composition and adjust their bets accordingly. While card counting is a legitimate and legal strategy, it requires dedication, practice, and a deep understanding of the chosen counting system.

Throughout this guide, we have explored various card counting methods, from simple to more advanced techniques. Beginners can start with easier systems like the Hi-Lo method and gradually progress to more complex strategies as they gain confidence and expertise.

However, it’s essential to approach card counting with a realistic perspective. It is not a guaranteed pathway to riches, and success still hinges on other critical aspects of blackjack gameplay, including employing sound basic strategy and effective bankroll management.

Moreover, players must be mindful of casino regulations and the possibility of countermeasures against card counting. Discretion and subtlety are key to avoiding unwanted attention and potential ejection from the casino.

Ultimately, mastering card counting in blackjack is a skill that can enhance a player’s overall blackjack experience. By combining strategic decision-making with a deeper understanding of the game’s dynamics, players can enjoy a more engaging and potentially rewarding blackjack journey. Remember, practice makes perfect, and with time and dedication, one can become a more proficient card counter and a more successful blackjack player.

Author roy court