Are you looking for ways to up your stakes at the casinos, specifically in the game of Blackjack? Card counting is one of the most practical methods blackjack players utilise to beat the odds.
We owe it all to Ed Thorp, the first mathematician who made this possible for players today; otherwise, our bankroll would suffer huge losses.
Although we always see an exaggerated portrayal in movies or in your head isn’t cheating because no rules or laws are violated. You’re not bribing the dealer or marking cards.
Card counting is all about following a system, and you don’t even need to be great at memorisation to do it. For beginner, you should learn about what is blackjack first before learning it in order to perform better result.
As with any skill, practice makes perfect. The same goes for card counting in Blackjack. Whether you’re playing alone with a deck of cards, with a group of friends, or with an interactive trainer in the form of a software tool, it takes repetition to make the skill become second nature.
Online trainer programmes are great because players have the advantage of pausing, changing deck modes, changing the speed and even restarting when they first start practising. Once they can accurately get the running count or running tally, they can proceed to increase the speed of the training drill.
Card counting in Blackjack is a strategy or counting system used by a player to gauge if they have the upper hand or advantage on the next hand the dealer gives. There is always a “house edge” in casinos, which makes it difficult even for the most skilled players to win.
After all, casinos are created for profit, even if they are there to provide entertainment. However, card counters enjoy the challenge, so they try to beat the system through careful strategy.
By counting the cards, players keep track of what was dealt and what remains on the deck. If done correctly, they can estimate when to bet more, especially when they have an advantage over the dealer.
The simplicity of the process may tempt many to try card counting; however, there’s so much more to it than keeping a running count of cards.
From the basic strategy of counting high cards and low cards to the more advanced counting systems like Wong Halves or Omega II, many players have developed methods to achieving a true count of cards despite the number of decks used.
It is done by keeping a mental tally of the cards. Players benefit the most when Blackjack is played with only one deck because it brings the house edge percentage to a mere 0.04%, where players can trump the system successfully. Hence in most casinos, multiple decks are often used, making players pick up card counting to break even.
In simple terms, it is taking note of certain cards while you play so that you can predict what cards are left, regardless of the deck shuffle. You can use this to your advantage by putting bigger bets when you’re sure you have the upper hand.
On the flip side, if you know that only small cards are left, which minimises your chances of getting a blackjack or 21 points on your first two cards, then smaller bets are better so that you can play it safe.
When playing an online game against the dealer, card counting is complicated, and it is unlikely you’ll be successful. Online casinos use top-notch software that shuffles decks.
Even if you play against the dealer in a live game, you’ll notice that dealers at physical casinos usually place the cut card behind roughly 80% of the cards.
In live online games, the dealers only place it at about 40% of the cards. In the end, you can only see 40% of the cards, which vastly reduces your edge against the dealer. Therefore save the card counting for physical games at the casino instead.
The hi-lo strategy is the most basic strategy of counting cards and puts a specific value on each card. High cards include Jacks, Queens, Kings, 10s, and aces that count as -1 each. On the other hand, a lo card counts as +1 each and is made up of 2 to 6. The remaining cards, 7 to 9, count as zero each.
Most players tend to search on Google for tutorials on how to do this, and even beginners can learn to count cards once they get acquainted with the game. All it takes is a bit of practice.
Once you’ve mastered this, you can introduce distractions by playing with friends to polish up on masking your strategy when in an actual game.
For advanced players, there are more advanced card strategies such as the Omega II or Wong Halves. Sometimes players form alliances in group play, and when faced with multiple decks, they adapt with one extra step.
The Omega II card counting system became popular among players after it was first published in the book Blackjack for Blood in 2001. The book was written by professional player Bryce Carlson which inspired numerous gamblers. The main theme of the book was to prove that casinos can be beaten through an effective strategy.
Given the more complicated theories in the Omega II strategy, you can expect this betting system to yield higher accuracy and efficiency, up to 99 percent.
It is also more balanced, wherein players jump from the running count to the true count throughout the game to reach a more accurate assumption of the remaining cards.
Omega II also puts specific values on cards, with 2, 3, and 7 having +1 value; 4, 5, and 6 having +2; 8 and ace with 0; 9 as -1 and 10, J, Q, K as -2. At first glance, it is already so much more complex than the hi-lo strategy.
By giving more value designations to a group of cards, players can reach a more accurate count of the cards and gauge if they are in an advantageous position to increase bets. However, it will require immense concentration and practice to apply successfully.
Another advanced system is the Wong Halves, with three levels of values for tracking. Players always start with a running count of zero and reset the count every time the dealer shuffles. It also requires a true count to check and balance the running count and predict what’s left in the deck.
Specific values players need to look out for in Wong Halves are J, Q, K, and an ace with -1; 9 with -0.5; 8 with 0; 2 and 7 with +0.5; and 3, 4, 5, and 6 with +1.
The system is named after the half-values imposed. The rest of the system is much like a typical method.
There are card counters who form teams and engage in group play, much like what you see in movies. This advanced strategy means multiple tables are tackled, and card counting happens simultaneously.
Group play requires precise yet stealthy communication through hints, tells, or signals. Successful card counting means a higher payout for the team at the end of the day.
You can still apply any strategy you’ve mastered with multiple decks, as long as you divide the running count by the number of decks remaining to reach your true count. With practice, players will learn when to adjust their bet sizes and accordingly.
Gauging which strategy is the best is highly reliant on the player’s preference and playing style. Even though the Omega II strategy might seem the most efficient to one, another player might feel uncomfortable using it.
The best is to stick to beginner-level strategies like the hi-lo strategy at the start before advancing to other strategies should you wish to.
No, card counting is not illegal, although once you’ve been identified as a card counter, the casinos may ban you from entering. They have also implemented systems to counter this technique, and dealers are given extensive training to detect potential card counters.
It doesn’t take a mathematician to count cards in casino games – players can bring down the house edge with the help of a polished system. If you’re interested, here is a concise link to card counting to get you started.
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