Card counting is a popular strategy that was popularized by the movie 21. It is primarily effective with Blackjack, and involves giving cards a ranking, and adding and subtracting the rank to determine when it’s a good idea to make a substantial wager.
The first thing you need to do is to learn the rules, see our Casino Game Rules – Blackjack pages.
In order to learn how to count cards you need to understand how 52-card blackjack works, including the basic rules and strategies, and then you need to memorise the rankings:
- Aces and 10 value cards (Kings, Queens, Jacks) are worth -1 when it comes to card counting
- 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s and 6’s are worth +1
- 7’s, 8’s and 9’s are worth 0
To practice card counting before trying it out at a casino, take a 52-card deck and start counting, starting at 0 and adding or subtracting the rank based on the card that appears. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you should be able to count through the whole deck in 25 seconds or less.
Eventually, with card counting, once you’re comfortable you can try in a casino; but be careful, because while it’s not illegal it is a controversial strategy that casinos do watch out for to help prevent it…and if you saw the movie 21, you know that the outcome isn’t always good.
If you want to try anyways, put these steps into place in order to try the Blackjack card counting strategy:
- Start counting from 0, adding or subtracting the rank value for each card that appears;
- Don’t include aces in the count;
- Keep counting between rounds; don’t start over until the dealer shuffles the shoe;
- When the hand is on a positive count, place a higher bet; otherwise stick with the minimum on a negative count;
- The number of cards left in the shoe (i.e. the number of decks still to be used) help to determine how much to bet. It’s a good idea to divide the count total by the number of decks left to assess how much should be bet!
Counting cards is a big strategy in itself, if you’re looking for some simple ways to improve your chances but for the average player, learning the best strategy is the way to win at Blackjack more often. See our Blackjack Strategy article for more information.
One major thing to remember regarding counting cards in Blackjack is that it doesn’t work online. With online Blackjack, each deal is effectively a re-shuffle due to the way the Random Number Generators work in online blackjack – sorry!