How to Count Cards in Blackjack

Counting cards in blackjack is one of the most controversial casino activities. You’ve probably heard that such card counters are being kicked out of places more than once.

Even the best online casinos do this because the most talented players benefit financially from it. They learn how to count cards in blackjack, how to blend in with other players, and how to make a solid living.

Turn on the movie “21” to watch a Hollywood depiction of how this works. The plot is based on actual occurrences, but many of the details are made up. Micky, a math professor, recruits five brilliant students and uses their skills to win millions of dollars at blackjack in Las Vegas.

The primary point, however, remains. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s real students earned money by counting cards. 

The players in the film used a “Plus-Minus” card counting system, which will be detailed further on. They even created their own sign language and terms to communicate the present state of the deck to one another. Why did the blackjack card counting give students such a leg up on the house? And what is the best way to count cards in blackjack? The Casino-Betting website team invites you to delve into the knowledge of blackjack, let’s go!

Counting cards in Blackjack With a Plus-Minus System

Harvey Dubner proposed this technique in 1963. For the ordinary individual, it is more simple and understandable. All of the cards in “Plus-Minus” are separated into three groups, each with its own value:

  • +1 (for small cards: 2-6),
  • 0 (for medium cards: 7-9)
  • -1 (for large cards: tens, jacks, queens, kings, and aces).

According to the Plus-Minus system, the sum of the values of all the cards in the standard deck is zero. The same applies to a game with six or eight decks. During the game, the player keeps the score by subtracting or summing the values.

For example, the dealer deals himself two tens, and the player 6 and 8. So, the score will be like this: -1, -1, 0, +1. As a result, the sum is -1. The larger the number, the fewer small cards remain in the deck and the game becomes more profitable for the player. The smaller the number, the more little things there are, and the risk of losing increases.

Here is another simple example. Playing with one deck (52 cards). In a few rounds, all the small cards from 2 to 5 and no other cards left the deck.

During the next hand, the player and the dealer receive the same cards: 6 and 10. What is the probability that the player will not move by taking another card? This probability is 4 out of 32, that is, 12.5%. After all, there will be a bust in any case, if an ace does not fall out, of which there are only 4 left, and there are 32 cards left in the deck.

If, on the other hand, all suits’ jack, queen, king, and ace had been removed from the deck, the probability would have been drastically different with the identical cards given. It turns out that all denominations from 2 to 5 will satisfy the player in order to enhance the hand. There are only four of them left, making a total of 16 of them. The number of cards left is 32, just like in the first example. It comes out that the chance of strengthening the hand while avoiding going over it is 16 out of 32, or 50%.

This shows how profitable it’s to count cards in blackjack. If the player didn’t count, he wouldn’t know in both cases what was left in the deck and what chances he’s to get the necessary cards. And thanks to his observations he makes the most rational decision.

When the score is negative, the bets are lowered, as there are more small cards in the deck. But when the score is positive, it means that there are more large cards in the deck, so the bets increase.

Counting cards in Blackjack Online

Let’s analyze now, is it possible to count cards in blackjack online? The random number generator of any institution is configured in such a way that pulling cards out of the shoe is a simple simulation. In fact, the system “shuffles” the decks after each hand.

Thus, the card count loses any meaning at all. You counted the cards that were dealt, and in the next hand, it turns out, they were added to the deck again. You can use the online game only for training techniques.

Count cards in Blackjack in Live Games

However, certain live online casino games, do not use a constant mixing method. You’ll need to know when and how many decks are the cards sent for shuffling.

For example, 4 out of 8 indicates that new cards surface after 208 out of 416 cards are played, and the score changes. The longer card counters play with the old deck, the better because the game becomes more predictable.

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