Blackjack Card Counting  

The objective of Blackjack card counting is to know when the shoe decks contain cards that are favorable to you, the player, thereby knowing when to make a larger bet. Shoes contain anywhere from four to eight decks of cards. You would begin a count at a freshly stacked shoe by mentally assigning a point value to the cards being dealt and keeping track. Even if you are math skilled and are able to hold a running count in your head, there is still no guarantee. If the shoe is favorable, it may be the other players or the dealer who are dealt the better cards. Be advised that Blackjack card counting cannot be executed at every table. Many casinos now use continuous shuffle machines (CSM’s), where the cards are automatically shuffled after each hand. It is impossible to count when these contraptions are used.

Contrary to what most people think, card counting is not illegal. However, if caught you will be asked to leave the casino. Their personnel, advantaged by the eye in the sky view, pit bosses, floor persons and dealers are all trained to spot counters.

How Blackjack Card Counting Works

To understand Blackjack card counting you must first know when the shoe contains many 10 value cards that are ready to be dealt. A Simple strategy works like this: Assign the flowing point value for each card dealt: any 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 are (+1).  7, 8, 9, are considered neutral, so do not count them. 10, J, Q, K, A, are (-1). Do the mental tabulation. If the count is +4 or higher, it means that lower value (unfavorable) cards have been dealt and higher (favorable) cards remain in the shoe. The opposite is true when the count is below +4 or in the minus field. Mentally continue the accumulative running count after each hand until the next shuffle. This many sound easy, but the rapid pace can be confusing. One mistake could blow the count in the wrong direction.

If you still think you would like to try your hand at counting, here are some helpful tips:

First learn basic strategy. Without it counting is meaningless.

Practice. Practice. Practice. Try it at home with multiple decks first. Try counting in groups of 3 or 4 cards each to represent individual players. Tabulate up to 20 to 30 cards to simulate a full table of seven players per round. Speed is important.

When you’re ready, choose the right table. Look for the slowest dealer, a table with liberal rules and a game with the least number of decks. Also visually check the shoe to check for deep penetration. The cut (blank) card is placed into the shoe to indicate when it’s time for a reshuffle. Look for a penetration over 60%. The deeper the better. Sit down to buy in after the shuffle.

Don’t get greedy. Keep your bet spreads low.  For example at a $10 table, never bet more than $50 on a favorable count. If you keep jumping from $10 to $100, you will get caught.

Don’t be obvious. If you try to act like the World’s dumbest blackjack player while playing perfect basic strategy, you will get caught.

The book Bringing Down the House, by Ben Merzich, is the true story about six M.I.T. students who took Vegas for millions by applying card counting systems. It was later made into the movie 21, starring Kevin Spacey.

The book and movie are available at Amazon. You can direct link on this page to purchase.

Additional publications and videos about casino gaming can also be found on Amazon. Click on the link(s) below to purchase:

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