Everything you need to know about counting cards in blackjack

What does counting cards in blackjack mean?

If you’ve ever played blackjack, it’s likely you’ll have heard of card counting. While counting cards can seem like a complicated memory game for blackjack newbies, it’s surprisingly easy to master the art of card counting if you’re looking to sharpen your all-round blackjack skills.

What is card counting in blackjack?

In simple terms, card counting is a strategy used by blackjack players, usually in casinos, to determine whether the next hand of cards will give an advantage to the player or to the dealer.

Players who count cards assign a value to each card in the deck, and keep a mental running tally of the value of the cards that have already been played during a game of blackjack, in order to estimate how many high cards and low cards are left in the dealer’s deck. 

This allows card counters to determine whether or not it would be advantageous to increase or decrease their bet size during the next round of play, and so allows the player to bet with less risk, and ultimately decrease their chances of losing money during the game. 

How do you count cards in blackjack?

There is a massive variety of card counting techniques within the blackjack community. While the methods can often seem overly complicated, the fundamental aim of all card counting strategies is to keep an accurate running tally in your head of the face value of cards that have been revealed during a game of blackjack. 

counting cards in blackjack

Here is an outline of the simplest and most common method for counting cards in blackjack:

  1. Before the game begins, take the time to assign an arbitrary value to different groups of cards, depending on their face value. For example, cards 2-6 are valued at +1, cards 7-9 are valued at 0, and cards 10-Ace are valued at –1. Make sure to commit these values to memory, and test yourself before the game to ensure that you feel confident in easily remembering each value. 
  2. During the game, watch closely when the blackjack dealer pulls a card from the deck. Keep a mental running total of the value of the cards that have so far been revealed during the game, according to the system of values outlined above. Every time a card is dealt, your running total will increase by 1, stay the same, or decrease by 1, depending on the face value of the card. It is important to only keep count in your head, and not to use your fingers, your phone, or a pen and paper at any point during the game, as this will alert others that you are counting cards. 
  3. If you have been successful at accurately keeping a total of the cards that have been revealed during a round, you should have a good idea of the current running total of the cards that are still left in the deck throughout the game. 
  4. Using this knowledge, you can then adjust the size of your bet depending on your estimation of the value of the cards remining in the dealer’s deck. If the count is negative, you should increase the size of your bet, as there are more low-value cards in the dealer’s deck. If your count is positive, you should decrease the size of your bet, as there are more high-value cards in the dealer’s deck, which increases the risk of your bet. 

As you improve your blackjack card counting skills through extensive real-world practice, you can start researching more complex card counting methods to sharpen your skills even further. These systems usually involve more sophisticated counting strategies in comparison to the simple +1, 0, -1 system, and so will take a longer period of time to learn and master.

system of counting cards

Should I learn how to count cards in blackjack?

It is perhaps common knowledge that card counting is not looked upon favourably in the blackjack community, and is often considered unsportsmanlike, as it decreases the house edge. While card counting is not illegal, it is prohibited in most casinos, and can lead to permanent bans.

Whether you choose to count cards or not during play is entirely your decision, but what we know for certain is that learning the methods of counting cards can improve your all-round understanding of the intricacies of blackjack, and can help you to spot any suspected card counters during a game.

The only way to master card counting in blackjack is through practice, so why not test out your skills on online blackjack games before you take it to the casino? Check out our huge range of online blackjack games and more at Cashino.com today and get counting! You’ll find every type of blackjack you could ever dream of, from Live All Bets Blackjack, to Cashback Blackjack, to Free Chip Blackjack.