Card Counting 101
Mr Blackjack explains the essential mathematics behind card counting and how it can help you win more at 21.
We’ve learned basic strategy, we’ve learned the side bets, we’ve looked at betting strategies. It’s now time to bring it all together and dive deeper into the math of card counting.
In this series, we will teach you how to apply card counting. This strategy keeps track of the cards that have already been played to apply probabilities on what cards are left to play in the shoe, and what cards will potentially come out on the next few hands.
Card counting strategies come in several forms and can vary in difficulty. However, the format is the same: cards are assigned a certain value, and you need to keep a running count of all the cards in play.
As the running count increases, so does the player's advantage and vice versa.
Card counting will help guide you with your wagers as you will vary your bet size from 1 unit to 12 units on any given hand, based on your stack size and overall goal for the session.
As you better understand what cards are left in the deck, card counting will also help you make smarter moves in your blackjack games, and ultimately give you an edge over the casino.
Many players think card counting requires advanced mathematics but you just need a decent memory, an understanding of probability, and focus, not to mention the time to practice!
For instance, imagine if you have 100 rocks in a bag. Fifty of them are red, and 50 of them are blue. Let's say you pull out 20 rocks at random.
By chance, you pulled out five red rocks and 15 blue rocks. This tells you that there are 35 blue rocks and 45 red rocks left in the bag.
Based on that math, what are the chances that your next rock will be red? 56%. The basis of card counting works in a very similar way. Learn how to apply this simple strategy in your blackjack games, with our next video.
What this lesson covers
- Definition of card counting
- How card counting helps players
- How the mathematics behind counting work
Meet Mr Blackjack
With a career spanning two decades, Mathieu Blake knows his way around a blackjack table. He's taught and entertained over 100,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel NeverSplit10's . In this series he'll take you through basic strategy, card counting, and bankroll management. Take a seat with Mr Blackjack and become a winning player.
- Does card counting actually work?
When combined with basic strategy, card counting in blackjack gives players a 1% edge. Some casinos beat card counters through various ploys to reduce this edge though, as we discuss later this season.
- Is card counting in blackjack profitable?
Card counting can be profitable if players combine it with other skills and games with advantageous conditions for them. When paired with basic strategy and blackjack deviations, card counting can help players capitalize on their advantage. Choosing blackjack games with liberal rules and ones where the dealers hand-shuffle the deck or play the whole shoe can also make card counting profitable.
- How do you count cards if you’re a beginner?
The Hi-Lo system is the easiest system for new card counters to learn.
- How can you tell if someone is counting cards?
Card counters go to great lengths to hide their ability, but sometimes you can spot the signs. One indication is when a player increases their bet sizes towards the end of the shoe. Another sign is when a player increases their wagers when several low-value cards come out of the shoe.
- Is it easy to count cards?
Card counting systems vary in difficulty. Hi-Lo is the easiest to learn, but still requires a good memory and speedy calculations. Other counting systems, like Omega and Wong Halves, are more complex and difficult to master.
- Do professional blackjack players count cards?
Counting cards is an essential skill for professional blackjack players. Combining counting with basic strategy and bet spreading helps them get an edge over the casino.
- Do blackjack dealers count cards?
Dealers don’t need to count cards. The blackjack odds are already in the casino’s favor in the game, so dealers only have to worry about taking bets and dealing cards.