Blackjack: What is the basic card counting system?

basic card counting

In Blackjack, you cannot underestimate the importance of using the basic strategy. By using the right Blackjack strategy, you can reduce the house edge by half a percent at a Blackjack table with reasonable rules. Aside from that basic card counting can also help you decrease the house advantage. This makes Blackjack be one of the best casino games, especially for advantage players.

Are you the type of player who cannot handle a -0.5% return?

If so, then you learn how to use these common card-counting systems to win in the end.

Keep in mind that the only method to consistently beat the house is keeping track of the cards removed from play. The methods below can help you increase your odds against the house, whether you’re a newbie or have been using simple card counting for years.

Blackjack and Card Counting

Blackjack is a game of chance that requires a high level of skill, focus, and discipline. While Blackjack card counting systems are tools that can help you enhance your game.

What is Blackjack Basic Strategy?

The Blackjack basic strategy is suitable for casual players who are only interested in having a good time. In reality, you must understand and practice the basic strategy. Even though casinos allowed its player to use a strategy card, it is better if you memorize it. The Blackjack basic strategy can reduce your loss rates as well as diminish the house advantage.

Card Counting Strategy for Advantage Play

If you are already a skilled or experienced player, you don’t necessarily need to use the basic strategy chart. Because now your main goal is to beat the house as well as a win from the Blackjack game rather than playing for fun.

Such players are using other strategies to obtain an advantage over the house. They rely on their experience, memory, and so-called “honest” skills. This method is what they called advantage play.

Advantage play is legal and safe as long as you do not obtain a significant advantage over the house edge. Otherwise, the casino may put you on their blacklist, with a possibility of a complete ban from the casino.

What is the basic card counting strategy for advantage players?
What is the basic card counting strategy for advantage players?

In addition, their actions and gestures at the table may indicate whether or not they are adopting an advanced play strategy. Card counting is the most common technique used by skilled players. Basic card counting takes a lot of effort and concentration to master.

What Exactly is Card Counting and How Does It Work?

Card counting allows the player to deduce the remaining cards after the dealer exposed the cards from the shoe that have already been dealt. It also allows the player to assess the remaining cards and determine their next course of action. After each round, the remaining deck contains fewer cards. An accurate count will help you to estimate the worth of the cards yet to be dealt.

On the other hand, basic card counting becomes increasingly difficult as the number of players in the game increases. As a result, an experienced player should also pay great attention to the cards dealt with by other players. In addition, this enhances the strategy’s complexity even more.

Casinos initially just use a single deck of cards. However, a 52-card deck makes it easier to keep track of dealt cards. As a result, it aids Blackjack players in gaining an edge over the house. To prevent card counting, casinos resort to using up to eight decks in their Blackjack shoe.

What are different card counting systems in Blackjack?

Choosing the right Blackjack counting system is mostly determined by the players’ level of skill and expertise. There are simpler blackjack easy card counting for beginners. In addition, there are more sophisticated counting systems although only experts players can properly execute this. The following counting card systems are listed in order of increasing complexity, from simplest to the most complicated.

What are the different card counting systems?
What are the different card counting systems?

Basic Card Counting System #1: Thorp’s Ten-Count System

In the 1960s, Edward Thorp introduces the first card counting method. He works as a professor of mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In his book “Beat the Dealer”, he formalized the so-called Ten Count system. Today, his approach is only employed in limited circumstances. This is because Ten-Count is designed for single-deck Blackjack games, whereas most casinos now use several decks. So, the casinos can reduce the chances of players correctly counting the cards.

Despite that, this basic card counting method is appropriate for novices who want to practice. It can help them enhance their talents in counting cards.

The Principle of Ten-Count System

In the Ten-Count system, you are counting cards throughout the game, while giving special attention to their value. This helps you in determining when to bet as well as how high your wager should be. The more 10-value cards remain in the deck, the larger the cumulative sum of the dealt cards is. In addition, you may choose to place a larger stake since the situation is favorable to you.

However, your chance is reduced of the total value of the card being near to zero or negative. In this scenario, you should bet less.

How to count cards?

Before we start, you must learn the card counting values first. The Ace with a value of 1 and the cards from 1-9 are all worth +4. The tens, Jacks, Queens, and Kings all have a -9 value. So, the only numbers you need to know are +4 and -9. This makes it easier for you to keep track of the handed cards.

Let’s assume that during a game, the player kept track of the following cards: 5, 2, Ace, Queen, 3, 4, 8, 9, 7, King.

These cards corresponds to 4, 4, 4, -9, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, -9.

Let’s do the math:

4 x 8 = +32

32 – 18 = +14

The positive number is rather high. This means that the player can place a larger wager because his odds of winning are higher.

Count Card Systems #2: The Ace/Five Count

This is another handy card counting strategy for you, especially if you are just a newbie. The Ace/Five Count helps you to neutralize the house edge partially.

How to count cards?

Starting at 0, add 1 for each dealt 5-value card you see at the beginning of the first deck. Then, subtract 1 from the total if you deal with an Ace. You can double your stake if the final result is equal to or greater than two. When it’s one or less, it’s best to avoid placing large bets.

It’s considerably easier to keep track of this basic card counting system. Because you are just considering two card values. However, the Blackjack rules variations can have an impact on the Ace/Five system. When the dealer does not frequently reshuffle the remaining cards in the shoe, it is most effective to use.

How to make your card counting less obvious?

How to make your card counting systems less obvious?
How to make your card counting systems less obvious?

To do this, it is best to double your bet only after a win with this blackjack card counting system. Although it helps you in gaining an advantage, your advantage is often only 1%.

Another advantage of the Ace/Five system is its ease of use. If you are new to card counting, it can help you hone your skills before moving on to a more complex method.

Intermediate Counting Card Method: The Hi-Lo System

based on Thorp’s Ten-Count, Harvey Dubner proposed the Hi-Lo system in 1963. The technique is appropriate for both beginners and intermediate players. Because it’s so basic and easy to remember, it’s one of the most widely utilized Blackjack counting techniques in the world.

In the Hi-Lo system, each card’s value is assigned with a specific number. So, it’s fairly similar to Thorp’s Ten-Count. Dubner practically chose different numbers for the card values. The cards from 2 to 6 are worth +1 and are referred to as “low” cards. The Ace, 10, King, Queen, and Jack are worth -1. In addition, they are referred to as “high” cards because of their higher value. While cards with the values 7, 8, and 9 are worth 0.

How to count cards using the Hi-Lo system?

To begin counting the cards, use the first card dealt from the deck. Now, consider the following scenario.

Let’s say the player has kept track of the following cards: King, 6, 10, 2, Jack.

These cards corresponds to -1, +1, -1, +1, -1. Therefore, the total is -1.

The higher the positive number is, the more high-value cards remain in the deck. If the number is negative, it signifies that the majority of face cards worth ten have already been dealt.

When the cards are first dealt, players normally start with a “running count” of zero. We have a running count of -1 in our case. The “real count” is calculated by dividing this number by the number of decks remaining in the shoe. So, if there are three decks to deal in the shoe and your running count is -1, then your true count is -0,33 or so.

Usually, novice card counters despise this part. But the good news is that they don’t have to be exact. To determine your chances, a rough estimate is sufficient enough. 

Count Card Strategy #4: The Knock Out Count System

This card counting strategy is both suitable for beginner and intermediate Blackjack players. Popularly known as the K-O count system, some say this is the easiest card counting system. This system is first introduced in the book The Knock Out Blackjack, written by Fuchs and Vancura.

What are the card counting values of the K-O count system?

In this counting card strategy, each card has an assigned value, which the player must keep track of and add or subtract. 10s, Aces, Queens, Jacks, and Kings are worth -1, while those from 2 to 7 are worth +1. You can say that this is completely similar to the Hi-Lo technique. However, cards 8 and 9 are worth 0 in this case. The K-O count system is unbalanced. Because the final count will not equal zero after all cards have been dealt.

Let’s say the player has tracked 4, 3, Jack, 9, 7, and Queen. These cards corresponds to +1, +1, -1, 0, +1, -1. Therefore, the final result is +1.

When the count is +2, it’s usually a good idea to start upping your stake. Therefore in this situation, it wouldn’t be a good idea.

This counting card approach is simple to remember and use. However, it is less accurate than the other complicated card counting procedures.

Card Count Strategy #5: The Omega II System

Let’s start with an intermediate-level method created by Bruce Carlson, the Omega II. This count system is initially revealed in his 2001 book “Blackjack for Blood”. Omega II is more complex than the earlier Blackjack card counting systems we discussed because it is a multi-level system.

How to use the Omega II count system?
How to use the Omega II count system?

In Omega II, some cards are worth two points, while others are worth one. In addition, it has far higher efficiency. It is, however, much harder to learn because it necessitates more:

  • Concentration
  • Time
  • More practice counting card

What are the card counting values of the Omega II system?

Since this is a multi-level system, some cards can have a +/-1 or +/-2 value. The cards 2, 3, and 7 are worth+1, while other low cards like 4, 5, and 6 have a value of +2. The 9 has a value of -1, whereas the 10 and the face cards King, Queen, and Jack have a value of -2. In addition, the Aces and eights are worth 0. It is a good idea to separately count the Aces that are dealt during the game.

Experts say that this is a balanced card counting method. If you can correctly count cards using this system, then you will arrive at zero after dealing with all the cards.

You must keep a running count during the game, just like in Dubner’s Hi-Lo system. To calculate the true count, you need to divide the running count by the number of decks left in the shoe.

Example of Omega II count system

Let’s assume you’ve kept track of the following cards: 2, 6, Queen, 4, and 8. So, these cards corresponds to values: +1, +2, -2, +2, and 0. Therefore, you now have a running count of +3. If there are only two decks left in the shoe, then the total count is 1,5.

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