Single Deck/Multi Deck Card Counting - How to Determine the True Count
Multiple decks in blackjack can skew the accuracy of your card counting and affect your bets. You can avoid these pitfalls, as Mr Blackjack shows, with the true count.
INSTRUCTOR: The principles of card counting are the same between single and multi-deck games of 21. But when you're playing with multiple decks, you need to start calculating the true count.
Lesson 5-- single-deck, multi-deck card counting. How to determine the true count. You already have the running count, which we learned in previous videos. That is the total count up to date, but now you must divide that by the number of decks remaining in play to get the true count in the game. This gives you a more accurate probability rating of the cards that will come out in the next hand.
Let's say your running count is plus six, and there are three decks in the discard tray. If you're playing at a table with a six-deck shoe, that means three decks remain in the game. You divide your running count by the number of decks remaining, so your true count is plus two.
In multi-deck games, you should be changing your bet spread according to the true count and not the running count. This is because the true count reflects all the decks and play in the game. So if we refer to our chart from earlier-- true count, how much to bet-- if the true count is plus one or lower, you bet one unit. If the true count is plus two, you bet two units. If the true count is plus three, you bet four units. If the true count is plus four, you bet eight units. If the true count is plus five or higher, you bet 12 units.
So if we used our true count of plus two from our previous example, the chart says we should bet two units. If we had relied on a running count of plus six, we would be betting 12 units. This is why keeping track of the true count is so important in multi-deck games. 10 units is a big difference and can affect your payouts massively across the blackjack session.
Keeping track of the true count does add another layer of complexity to card counting, which is why playing a single-deck game is easier than a six or eight-deck shoe. It's also why casinos mostly feature multi-deck blackjack tables.
Coming up we're showing you how to combine bet spread and card counting like the professionals. Stay with us.
Thanks for watching, players. If you want to learn more, check out our guides on blackjack strategy through the link.
What this lesson covers
- How multiple decks affect card counting
- Difference between true count & running count
- How to adjust your bets to your advantage
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.
- What is the true count in blackjack?
The true count is the running count divided by the number of decks remaining in the shoe.
- What is a ‘good’ true count?
+3 or higher is generally a ‘good’ true count because you have the advantage in the game and can greatly increase your bet size.
- How do you bet on the true count in blackjack?
When the true count hits specific levels, you should proportionally increase your bet size to maximize your advantage. As our chart above shows, when the true count hits +2 you should bet 2 units, and when it reaches +4 you should wager 8 units. You can learn more about bet spreads in counting in lesson six, season six of Blackjack Academy.
- What is a running count?
The running count is the sum value of the cards dealt in a blackjack game. This indicates your advantage. While you can use this metric in single deck blackjack games, you would need to divide the running count by the number of decks remaining in the shoe for multi-deck games to determine your advantage. This is called the true count.
- Can I determine the true count if the dealer uses a Continuous Shuffling Machine (CSM)?
If a dealer uses a CSM, then the true count won’t give you an advantage. Card counting won’t help you at all in this scenario. Leave that blackjack game and find another table, ideally one where the dealer hand-shuffles the deck, as our how to win at blackjack guide explains.
- How can I tell how many decks remain in the shoe?
Deck estimation is an important part of card counting in blackjack. While you can ask the dealer or other players how many decks the blackjack game has at first, it’s trickier when you enter a game mid-shoe. Many players memorize how 1-3 decks look in a shoe and afterward use the ‘empty space’ method. When half the cards are played in a shoe, focus on visualizing how many decks will take up the remaining space in the shoe.
- What should I do if the game is halfway through a deck? Do I calculate to the nearest .5, round up, or round down?
If you’re a master at card counting, you can divide the true count by the nearest .5, i.e. 2.5 decks. For beginners though, we recommend rounding down to the nearest whole deck until you’re certain an entire deck of cards has been played.