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Blackjack Card Counting

Blackjack is a card game that is usually found in casinos, whether online casinos or real casinos. It belongs to table card games and is a popular game with gamblers.

In Blackjack, gamblers play with the spreader or dealer with the goal of reaching a total card value of 21 or as close to it as possible. If the gambler gets a card value closer to or equal to 21, he wins and is paid by the dealer. However, if the dealer has a card value closer to or equal to 21, the gambler will lose his bet.

Blackjack is one of the easiest casino card games to learn and understand. This time, we will look at the strategy that is usually used to win Blackjack, which is card counting.

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What is Card Counting and its Background

Card counting is a strategy when playing Blackjack that involves mathematical calculations. The principle and mathematical theory involved here is the principle of probability. The card count was first used in the 1960s and was started by academician, Edward O. Thorp who was a mathematician.

He published the book Beat the Dealer in 1962. His book became very popular and sold a lot around the world. The book has scared casino owners.

They later made some changes to the Blackjack game, such as adding a deck of cards. Previously, Blackjack was only played with one deck but today it is played with more than one deck.

Blackjack Card Counting

How to Count Cards Successfully

First of all, we need to understand how this strategy works. The first step is to assign each card in the deck a numbered value.

  • Cards 2-6: Value +1
  • Cards 7-9: Value 0
  • Card 10- Ace (including picture cards): Value -1

For each round, you will observe each card that is dealt faces up. Add up the value of each round and you will get what is called the ‘Running Count’.

This running count is done every round and decides whether you have an advantage or the dealer has an advantage.

Generally, when the running count is a positive value, you have the advantage while if it is a negative value then the advantage is with the dealer.

True Count versus Running Count

In the game of Blackjack, more than one deck of cards is usually played. In the past, the strategy of Running Count and its summation was enough to decide how to bet. However, most casinos these days use more than one deck when dealing cards.

Therefore, gamblers who practice card counting have developed a suitable calculation technique for the number of decks used. This is known as True Count in English.

The true count calculation is actually very simple. You just need to add up all the running counts at some point, and then divide it by the number of remaining decks. So the formula used is:

Actual Count = Running Count

Number of remaining decks

We will look at some examples.

Example 1: If the running count is 10 and we have 2 decks left then

Actual count = 10/2 = 5

Example 2: If the running count is -8 and we have 4 decks left then

Actual calculation= -8/4 = -2

A strategy commonly used by gamblers is to increase the bet as the actual count increases. This means that you have more of an advantage when the actual count increases to a positive value. So using the example mentioned earlier, you should make more bets when the actual count increases to the value of 5 instead of when the actual count is -2.

Tips For Success In Blackjack Card Counting

There are several ways for you to use this card counting method correctly. These tips can help you ensure that your Blackjack card counting has a higher chance of success.

Choose a strategy that is right for you

If you are new to Blackjack card counting and may want to choose simpler types of counting such as Hi-Lo and KO. If you are more experienced, you can choose a more complex type of calculation.

Always start with low stakes

When starting to use the card counting method, you may not be confident enough. Therefore, your stakes do not need to be high. Start with a minimum bet of RM5 or RM10. Only increase bets when you are more confident.

Watch your bankroll

Bankroll is a term that means the number of bets you can afford to make on a game. Don’t be in a hurry and exceed your bankroll. If you’ve exceeded your spending limit, please stop.

Do not disclose that you are a card reader

When playing Blackjack, count your cards silently and don’t reveal or write them down anywhere. You have to calculate and store them in memory. When the game is running you should behave as you normally would.

Don’t rely too much on card counting

Card counting is a strategy to help you decide whether the game of Blackjack at any given moment is in your favor or not. It cannot guarantee victory, so you should not rely solely on card counting as the key to your victory. It is only a guide to your betting decisions.

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Types of Strategies in Blackjack Card Counting

We have already seen the basic card counting strategy. Now, we are going to look at different types of card counting strategies in Blackjack. These strategies are all variations of the basic counting method.

Hi-Lo System (Basic calculation method)

The Hi-Lo method has already been described before, that is, all cards are assigned the number +1, 0, or -1. The value of all cards is added up each round. The more positive and higher this summation value is, the better your winning probability is. This system is very suitable for those who are just starting card counting.

The Omega II System

This system is system that has been designed by Bruce Carlson, and it is a system of moderate difficulty. In this system, apart from the values of +1, 0, and -1, there are also cards given the values of +2 and -2. If you practice this system correctly, the sum of all the cards should be 0 when they have all been dealt.

The Half-Wong System

This system is one of the most complicated and was designed by gambling writer Stanford Wong. It is a three-level system, with a balanced value, that is, the sum of all cards must be 0 after all cards have been removed.

What makes this system so difficult is the presence of the value ½. In this system, different cards are given the value -1, – ½, 0, 1 ½, 1, and ½. To avoid confusion, there are gamblers who double all of these stated values

System 7 Red

This red 7 system is basically the same as the Hi-Lo system, it is a one-level system. High-value cards are given a value of -1, the middle one is given the value of 0 and the low-value card is given a value of +1. The only difference here is the card worth 7. If it is red, it counts as a low-value card and is given a value of +1, but if it is black it counts as neutral and is given an 0 value.

KO system

The Knockout or KO system is also a system that is easy, and almost the same as the Hi-Lo system. It was designed by Fuchs and Vancura in their book called Knock Out Blackjack. The system is unbalanced and the total card value is not necessarily 0 after everything is removed.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Blackjack Card Counting

As with all card game strategies, Blackjack card counting techniques have their own risks. However, it can also benefit you. 

The advantages of this strategy are obvious. If it is used correctly you can increase your probability of winning and get a return on your bet. This technique allows you to defeat the host’s advantage in the long run and ensure your own long-term profit.

However, there is also a downside, which is that the casino does not like this tactic and they try their best to stop it or make it difficult. Some of the ways casinos do this are by having multiple decks of cards, continuous card shuffling machines, and continuous win bans.

Besides that, you also have to be careful not to get caught. There are casinos that are very strict and do not tolerate this method.

Card Counting Strategies Really Work

Card counting in Blackjack requires a lot of patience and effort to master, especially if you are just starting out. However, if you can master it, you will find that it is a good guide when deciding on your bet amount.

This method is not considered to be cheating because it is based on mathematical principles. It also does not guarantee a win, it only increases your probability of winning when used correctly.


Yes, you can still use it but the casino will take some steps to make it difficult for you.

Yes, this method is still useful for online games, but there is Blackjack software that puts the cards back into the deck for reshuffle.

Counting your own cards is still allowed, but you are prohibited from using any software or machine to help you.

For those of you who are just starting out, the simplest types of calculation methods are Hi-Lo and KO.

The most difficult and complicated method is Stanford Wong's method, which is Wong's Half System which has a value of ½ in its calculation.

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