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BLACKJACK CARD COUNTING

Why blackjack and is one of the most popular casino card-games is easy to comprehend both from the point of view of the player and of the casino or online casino. The player likes it, because it's a simple and straightforward game. Most recreational players consider blackjack needs no special skills to master.

The casino, of course, likes blackjack because it comes with a 2-3% house edge, and because it's wildly popular with recreational players. When it's all said and done, at the end of the day, the question arises: how come players like blackjack if it comes with a 2-3% house edge? Doesn't that mean that in the long run a player will register a 2-3% loss? Well, yes and no.

Any player who is naive enough to start playing blackjack with a complete disregard to basic strategy, will probably lose more than that. If you learn basic strategy and apply it succesfully, you'll already have reduced the house edge some, but there is a weapon that can kill the house edge altogether or even turn it around the other way ( in the player's favor). That's right, it's card counting.

You probably already heard about card counting card counters and the exceptional safety measures casinos take to filter these guys out. You probably think card counters are super-human beings endowed with a way-above-the-average capacity to memorize each and every single card they see, and thus know exactly which cards are left in the deck.This is indeed a common myth regarding blackjack card-counting, but as such, it simply isn't true.

There are several card counting techniques, - some simpler, some more complicated - but all of them based on the same idea, proven by countless computer simulations and studies: face cards favor the player, low cards favor the house.

The simplest card counting method works like this: assign values to different cards like: -1 for 10,J,O,K,A, 0 for 8 and 9, and +1 for 2,3,4,5,6,7. all you need to do now, is keep a sum in your mind. Whenever a low card turns up you add 1, whenever there's a high card shown form the deck subtract one. The bigger the sum is ( in the positive range) the more
low cards will have left the deck, thus the more face cards there are left in it. Your chances of drawing a face card are increased, and so are your chances to win hands. All that means that you should raise the stakes, win more while you're a more likely winner, and lose less when the odds are stacked against you.

Of course, often you'll be playing when the ratio of face cards compared to that of low cards is aproximately equal. This will give you no edge so it's basically a 50-50 push.

The above presented method is the simplest blackjack card counting technique there is, there are of course much more intricate and effective ways to count cards too.

One way to further refine the system is to give cards values of +2 and -2 in addition to the above mentioned ones. Sometimes a side-count is also kept ( by more advanced counters), memorizing specific cards that came up.

As I said before, brick and mortar casinos go to great lengths to prevent card counters form going about their business undisturbed. One measure meant to make card counting very difficult is the use of several decks.

In online blackjack you need to be aware of the fact that card counting is pretty much impossible. Since the cards are generated by a software ( random number generator to be exact) there's no use counting the cards that come up. The virtual deck the computer uses, is refreshed with every single deal, so whatever conclusion you reach by counting cards won't mean anything. Also you won't be able to tell how many decks are being used, so no counting system will work here.

by James West

Back to Online Blackjack Strategy Articles And Tools
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