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Principles of Blackjack Card Counting

Card counters know the next card

Card counters know the next card

For a player that wants to be a success in blackjack, the blackjack card counting strategy is of great importance. However, one should not consider learning the blackjack card counting before mastering the basic strategy. With the help of blackjack card counting skills, you will become able to gain advantage in the game, and gradually even beat blackjack.

The basic principle of Blackjack Card Counting lies in the basic dependence, that a high proportion of high cards in the deck are to the advantage of the player, and the reverse is the advantage of the dealer. When the favour is on your side, it's time when you should raise the bets, and consequently bet the minimum, when the deck favours the house.

It all happens because high ratio of 10-valued cards increases the chance of dealer getting busted, whereas a deck full of low cards lessens this chance.

Virtually, you should not memorize al the cards that already have been played, especially from a 7-deck shoe of cards. That is impossible! Instead, a point system was developed to keep the track and count the proportion while the cards are being played by the dealer. Accurate blackjack card counting can increase player's edge up to 2% over the casino. As there are many different blackjack card counting systems, each player should pick himself an easy-memorable one.

The Running Count

A point value is assigned to each card. You should only add the value of the cards once they are dealt from the deck. According to the strategy of the RUNNING COUNT as a Plus/Minus card strategy, also known as The High/Low blackjack card counting strategy, the values of the cards are:

23456 = +1
789 = 0
10JQKA = -1 


Queen comes first, so we start with a count of -1. Then a 6, we add 1 to the running count which results in a zero. Then a 2 - we add one point, and the running count now equals +1. A 4 after, and the running count is at +2… and so on.

This count can also be called an "Unbalanced Blackjack card counting strategy" - Only one step further takes us to the balanced blackjack card counting system.

Balanced vs. Unbalanced Blackjack Card Counting Strategies

If we imagine that the cards dealt (previous example) were the very first cards from a 5 deck shoe, this count is not very accurate, as the large remaining of the deck can be dealt in your favour or not. Some may call them variance, while the others consider that these factors are only a matter of good or bad luck. On the other hand, if we consider we have a running count of 6 in a single deck game, after the shuffle, in the first hand, this tells us much more, than if it was still a 5 deck shoe.

The quantity of cards in the shoe keeps getting smaller, and consequently the factor decreases. This is when an adjusted strategy takes place, and the card counters forget about luck!!! A method, that depends on how many decks are left is called The TRUE COUNT.

True Count

It is not very difficult to do the true count. All you need is to divide the running count you have with the number of decks that are still in the shoe. E.g.  the running count is 8 and there are approximately 2 decks in the shoe, so the True count is 4.

The count itself is simple, whereas the most difficult part is to estimate the number of decks left. You may do that if you practice your eye by looking at the casinos tray with used cards; try to estimate the number of played decks.

The TRUE COUNT is the nucleus of the blackjack card-counting, it helps you estimate the most appropriate bet size, and also when and how to vary from the basic blackjack strategy.

Most popular books on Blackjack Card Counting

  • Standford Wong's High/Low Strategy can be studied in - Professional Blackjack
  • Ken Udsons Plus/Minus Strategy can be studied in his book - Million Dollar Blackjack
  • Arnold Snyder has another strategy in his book - Blackbelt in Blackjack

Good luck in beating online blackjack game and remember to practice, practice, then practice some more!


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