How Card Counting in Blackjack Works – How-to-Guide and Counting Trainer

If you've ever wondered what it would take to play like a blackjack pro, you have definitely come to the right place. In almost every game featured, the house always has the statistical advantage. However, with the right strategy in place the odds could be in the gambler's favor. We give you the correct tools which include the CasinoTop Canada card counting simulator, exclusive how-to-guide, legalities, the history of card counting and more.

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How to Use Our Blackjack Training Game

1. The first thing to do is to remember the values assigned to all of the cards.

→ High card values (10, J, Q, K, A) each count as -1
→ Low card values (2 up to 6) each count as +1
→ The other card values (7 up to 9) each count as 0

2. Upon pressing play, the cards will be dealt.

3. Now, do a calculation of all cards on the table. Remember that there's a time limit that runs up to 40 seconds. Add and subtract the value of the cards to get a final value.

4. Next, simply input your answer into the box. You can also use the arrows to choose the correct answer.

5. If your answer is correct, the game will continue. Remember to keep adding or subtracting from your previous total.

6. While leveling up, keep track of your total count. As an example, Round 2’s answer will be the total value of the first and the second rounds.

7. The game progresses as you continue to play. In other words, Round 3 will be the total sum of all the previous rounds, plus the current round.

Blackjack Card Counting– What is it?

The card counting technique is a way of keeping track of the available low versus high cards present in the dealer's deck. By counting cards correctly, you can have the winning edge by knowing when to effectively increase your wager. In turn, increasing your chances at success. It is important to note that card counting does not teach you how to seamlessly keep winning, or is a way at cheating in a game of blackjack. Simply put, it is an acquired skill set used in conjunction with your regular way of playing that gives you a clearer understanding of what cards the deck has yet to offer you.

Card Counting – Why you should

It all comes down to winning. By applying the right methods, you can capitalize on a big win in one simple yet strategic game. Card counting in blackjack gives you a moderately high chance of gaining an advantage over the house's edge. Commonly practiced over the years, card counting has been greatly improved upon to provide a highly accurate reading of the ratio between low and high value cards. In turn, you will be walking the yellow brick road when having the ability to flip the odds in your favor.

Card Counting – Why you should not

Currently, Canadian provincial law does not prohibit card counting or deem it as unlawful. Provided of course, that you are mentally doing it and not making use of an assisting device to count cards such as a mobile app, it is completely legal. Despite it having legal immunity, it is still considered cheating. Card counting in land-based casinos comes with caution. Casino officials are well-versed at spotting card counters and will reprimand anyone if suspected. At worst, the casino will force you to retract from the game, or even ban the player completely. Even the very best get rumbled from time to time.

How does Card Counting in Blackjack Work?

The art of card counting lies in the ability to keep a running count, which solely depends on consistently counting the assigned values of the cards that are in play. You can easily learn to count cards right now by using our four simple steps below.

  1. Assign a theoretical value to each card eg. +1 for cards ranging from (2 to 6), 0 for cards ranging from (7 to 9) and -1 for cards ranging from (10 to Ace)
  2. Keep track of the running count off of each card dealt, using the assigned values.
  3. Provided you are able to keep a consistent running count, you will be aware of the remaining card values of the current deck in use.
  4. If the card count runs into a negative at the end of the round, decrease your bet as you will have a smaller chance of getting a blackjack. The higher the card count goes, the higher your bet and the higher your chance of hitting a blackjack.

The card counting technique is a balanced system, meaning that after all cards have been dealt, the standard 52 card deck will always have a count of 0. With the house's edge being on average about 0.5%, you will effectively have a 1% handicap over the house!

Did you know?

It is estimated that when professional card counters choose to work in a team, the percentage gained by the player over the house significantly rises between 2% to 4%.

Is Card Counting Possible while Playing Blackjack Online?

It is possible to use card counting with online blackjack. However, many online gambling operators have adapted card shuffling software, used at the end of each round. There are many digital applications out there that you could use to do the card counting effortlessly, but serve no use due to card shuffling software.

One of the benefits is that you are able to practice the art from the safety of your home, free from the risk of being called out and caught, such as within land-based casinos. Do not attempt card counting in a brick-n-mortar casino until you have practiced and feel fully confident doing it online. We list an extensive amount of blackjack games which you can try out for free to practice your new found technique. The blackjack games found on our site will help you to excel at the game of 21, without the risk of losing any funds. If you feel confident attempting the strategy online, be aware of embedded card shuffling software that various sites may employ.

Card Counting - Basic Strategy

There are many methods of card counting, with the most basic form for beginners being the High-Lo strategy. Quite simple to follow, it is the perfect method for beginners to use when playing at a physical or digital casino.

At the point when the first card is dealt, you simply make a mental note of the card's chosen value. For example, if the dealt card is an Ace, the count will be -1. If the following card revealed is a number 4 card, you count its assigned value which is +1. Here, the accumulative total count will be at 0.

You should continue this flow for each newly dealt card in play, while keeping the calculation going right up to the point the deck gets shuffled. The amount at the end of each round is referred to as the “running count”.

Summary: Card Counting in 4 Simple Steps

  • Designate a theoretical value to every card such as -1, 0 or +1.
  • Calculate the card values in each round
  • At the end of each round, keep a running count to determine what's in the deck.
  • Bet accordingly (increase your bet if the current card count is positive, or reduce your bet if it’s negative)

Card Counting - Advanced Strategies

As mentioned, the technique of card counting has been perfected many times over the years. Besides the simple to follow Hi-Lo strategy, there are many other complex methods which can be used. Here are several other options used by professional blackjack players.

The Omega 2 Method

This complex card counting system was popularized by Bryce Carlson back in 1992 in his book, Blackjack for Blood. The Omega 2 intermediate card counting system goes beyond the classic +1, 0 and -1 values.

+1 is assigned to card number 2, card 3 and card 7 (any suit)
+2 is assigned to card number 4, card 5 and card 6 (any suit)
-1 is assigned to card number 9 only (any suit)
-2 is assigned to card number 10 and the royal cards (any suit)
0 is assigned to card number 8 and the Ace card (any suit)

Expect to find more lower numbered cards remaining in the active deck when your count is positive. A count running into negatives reflects a large amount of high numbered cards remaining in the active deck.

The Wong Halves Method

Wong Halves is derived from the name of the system inventor, Stanford Wong. Considered to be an advanced card counting method with regards to it's assigned card values, of which several are fractional.

+1 is assigned to card number 3, card 4 and card 6 (any suit)
+0.5 is assigned to card number 2, and card 7 (any suit)
+1.5 is assigned to card number 5 only (any suit)
-0.5 is assigned to card number 9 only (any suit)
0 is assigned to card number 8 only (any suit)
-1 is assigned to card number 10, royal cards and the Ace card (any suit)

Though it may seem daunting at first, you can simplify the strategy by doubling up the assigned values and avoid calculating fractions altogether. The Wong Halves method is considered to be a well rounded system, which means that your final count will be at 0 when the active deck has been dealt completely.

Counting in a Group

The aggregate of having an advantage over the casino significantly increases when card counters play within a group. The advantage being that multiple card decks played on multiple blackjack tables can be simultaneously counted. The team communicates via signaling each other while also trying to avoid detection. This way they are able to let team members know when to opt into a hand, and when they should raise the stakes.

Multiple Decks – Counting Technique

The game rules of blackjack may vary and depending on the casino where some could use anywhere from 1 to 8 decks of cards. Professional card counters are well aware of this as well as being clued up on the rules set out for the specific game at play. The fact that the cards are not reshuffled when each round is over opens up the window of opportunity to make use of various play mechanics, which includes card counting.

As long as the running count keeps running positive, the advantage will be gained on the player's side. When multiple decks are in use, any card counting system applied could be used efficiently. Here, what is known as the true count, becomes vital to the success of the game. The true count can be effectively reached by dividing the current running count by the remainder of the inactive card decks in the game.

Which Strategy works best?

First time card counters will find the easiest of the methods to master to be the Hi-Lo counting system. It is a good place to start to see how well it works for you. As your skill level improves, you can opt for a more complex blackjack counting system, should you deem it necessary. Furthermore, you should feel confident in your ability of card counting before attempting to play with real money. Our site features many other ways you can play and win at blackjack, which compliments your original style of playing.

How legal is Card Counting?

Here at CasinoTop Canada, we would like to keep you informed to the fullest about the casino games you are playing. Before you go out and play at a Canadian based casino, some laws need to be taken into consideration.

Certain Canadian provincial laws, such as in Windsor, prohibit the use of electronic card counting devices or physical aids such as using a mobile app. Inexperienced card counters could be seeing some jail time if caught in the act. Arithmetically making use of your brain to play the game cannot be deemed an illegal act. Besides the legalities of card counting and the rules of blackjack, casinos do not favor the trend for obvious reasons.

Even though the casino or it's operator have no grounds to prosecute you unless a counting device is used, the whole experience could become quite unpleasant should you be called out. Land-based casinos worldwide are well-versed in the practice of card counting at their venues, and they have taken the necessary precautions to prevent you in any way that they can.

Besides the use of surveillance cameras, dealers become interchangeable when a specific blackjack table has been deemed “hot” by the overlooking pit boss. Another method used by the casino is when the dealer is requested to administer a forced reshuffling of the cards at the start of the next playing round. Online blackjack may be free of any pit bosses, however some sites do make use of random card shuffling software to counter the practice.

Even with these counteracting measures in place, professional card counters from around the world have seen their fair share of millions of dollars in casino wins for decades now.

Quick Tips for Card Counting

Monitor your current bankroll

Even though it may be important to keep a running count of the cards in play, monitoring your available funds is just as important. You wouldn't want to be too spontaneous and suddenly run out of available funds.

Discretion is pinnacle

Even if card counting does not land you in jail, it is a practice that is not welcomed at any casino. Try perfecting the technique of card counting in a noisy environment first before playing at a casino. By trying to emulate the experience of playing in a live casino environment, you will overcome any distractions you might face there.

Card count at a land-based venue

Even with all the necessary monitoring, land-based casino card counting is still a better option compared to doing it online. Online casinos make use of RNG (random number generated) systems used on all digital casino games with automatically reshuffling ability already present into the game. You will have more success playing in front of a live dealer playing with real cards.

Use a counting method that works best for you

There's a myriad of card counting strategies you could try, such as the ones you can find here. Try practicing a strategy that you are good at. Once you feel confident enough, only then should you engage your new found skill-set in a live land-based casino environment.

A Brief History of the Best Card Counters

The very first blackjack card counting strategy ever recorded, was by mathematician and also considered to be the father of card counting, Edward O. Thorp. He was the author behind the first blackjack strategy book published back in 1962 called “Beat the Dealer”. His technique called the “10 count” outlined various strategies for playing and betting at blackjack.

The “10 count system has since been revised and updated with a modern and more simpler method called the “point count” system. Even before the American mathematician released his book, dating as far back as the 1950's, Las Vegas and other casinos have seen their fair share of professional blackjack players winning at blackjack games. Besides the aforementioned Edward O. Thorp, here are some of the greatest card counters in blackjack history.

Ken Uston (Born 1935)

Ken Uston was credited with popularizing the team play mechanic in blackjack, which he wrote about in his book called “The Big Player Team” in 1970. He has been banned from casinos so often that he has needed to adopt the donning of disguises just to gain entry. There is no total of his earnings recorded, but it is said to be well within the millions as he would bet as much as $12, 000 in a single hand.

Peter Griffin (Born 1937)

Peter Griffin who has no relation to the protagonist of a popular TV sitcom, is one of the original members honored in the blackjack hall of fame and author of the book, “The Theory of Blackjack: The Complete Card Counter's Guide to the Casino Game of 21”. Griffin, who studied at Portland State University where he received his master's degree, was one of the first to calculate the percentage disadvantage of an average blackjack player, which is around 2%, as well as the average gains by hand.

Stanford Wong (Born 1943)

John Ferguson, known by his pen name, Stanford Wong was a professional gambler and author of the book , “Professional Blackjack” which was published in 1975. Creator of the Wong Halves method and also the first commercially released blackjack odds computer program called the “Blackjack Analyzer”. Wong, who studied at Stanford University in California, popularized a term called “Wonging” which involves card counting outside of the game and stepping in and wagering when the conditions are favorable.

FAQs – Card Counting in Blackjack

What is card counting in blackjack?
Card counting techniques in blackjack is a way of systematically keeping track of the likelihood of getting favored cards during the game.
What is the house edge in a game of blackjack?
While you can expect to find casino games with a fixed house edge calculated by the average return to player rate, it is very much different with blackjack. There are several variants of the casino's edge in blackjack that depend on the rules in use which determines what edge the casino will have. With optimal play and the right set of rules, the house edge can be lower than 1%, while it can also be much higher.
Is card counting considered cheating?
Card counting sails on a fine line between being considered a betting strategy and downright cheating. No matter what anyone says, there is no law that constitutes not being able to use your brain when playing inside of a casino. In essence, card counters win at blackjack while obeying the rules set out by the casino.
Is card counting a profession?
If applied correctly, then yes; however it does depend on the individual. In fact, most blackjack professionals have been doing it for years in their lifetime and also offer training courses to aspiring players. With the right set of rules and the right card counting methodology in place, it could be seen as quite lucrative to those with nerves of steel.
Are there any other casino games in which you can card count?
Baccarat is another casino game in which you can use card counting techniques. Be advised that it's a complex strategy that is not for the faint of heart. Another such game would be the lesser known three card brag. Here the deck will receive a shuffle only during certain in-game scenarios.