How to Count Cards in Blackjack?

count cards in Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the card games with a very low house edge, which makes it extremely popular among gamblers. The game is all about strategies where you could account for some of the major winnings attributed in the counting cards.

The major question, however, is counting cards truly works? While the movies like the Hangover and 21 make it seem like a child’s play, let’s separate facts from fiction.


Card counting is indeed a strategy used by some of the poker players, especially in card games like Blackjack. Josh Axelrad was one of the initial players who acknowledged to have resorted to card counting in Blackjack poker for winning his then team thousands of dollars. In fact, he authored a book on how to count cards in 2010. The book titled Repeat Until Rich: A Professional Card Counter’s Chronicle of the Blackjack Wars delivers the fundamentals of card counting for beginners.

While every poker player dreams to know off all the cards held by the cards dealer, the art of counting cards is not as easy as it seems; especially when multiple decks of cards are involved. However, while this may be the case, certain easy live dealer games like Blackjack hold great potential to count cards.

What is card counting?

Card counting although difficult, is pure mathematics, which never goes wrong. While there are many card counting systems, the Hi-Lo count approach is considered to be the easiest trick to master. So, what are the fundamentals of card counting in Blackjack?

Steps involved in card counting

The basic steps involved in card counting, are as follows;

Step 1: Assigning a value to every card dealt

To begin with, assigning value to every card is the first step to proceed with card counting. In Hi-Lo approach, the following are the card values:

  • 2 to 6 is +1
  • 7 to 9 is 0
  • 10 to Ace is -1

Every time a card is dealt, you either add/subtract 1 or do nothing at all. For instance, when a number 8 card is dealt, you do nothing while you add 1 when the card dealt is 4.

 Step 2: Keeping a running count

Now, that you know the value of every card, it is imperative to keep a running count by updating it with the new figures.

Black betting tip: If the running count increases, the player holds the advantage whereas if the value becomes negative, the casino has the advantage over the player.

Step 3: Calculating “True Count”

Card counting becomes a child’s play when dealing with a single deck of cards. However, casinos make it difficult for players by bringing in multiple cards. Thus, calculating true counts or ‘count per deck’ becomes important. Here’s a simple equation to determine the true count while keeping up with the running count.

True count = Running Count / No of Decks Remaining

Step 4: Make place bets depending on the rise and fall of the true count

Keeping count of the cards becomes pointless if you do not take advantage when the opportunity arises.

Blackjack betting tip: Place big bets when house edge flips in your favor (when the running count increases) and place very small bets or nothing at all when the count remains unchanged or when it is negative.

Disadvantages of card counting

The time-tested strategy of counting cards has a few disadvantages in store. Firstly, while card counting is not illegal, all the casinos vigilantly watch out for players who count cards in dealer games like blackjack. And, while not punishable, casinos generally ban the card counters from the table or the casinos for life. One of the reasons for this could be the fact that Blackjack has a house edge as low as 1%.

Card counting in Blackjack does not work in online casinos. While traditional casinos use one or more decks of cards, online casinos reshuffle the deck automatically after every hand.

William Hughes
William Hughes starts his career as a sports writer after completion of his graduation in journalism. He recently joined VegasCasino.News as a casino news writer. He holds extensive knowledge about the gambling world, and he also contributes casino guides regularly.

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