Card Counting in Blackjack

bj-shoeCard counting originated in the early sixties with Prof. Edward O. Thorp developing the first basic blackjack strategy called Five Count, according to which players’ chances of winning improved if the deck had fewer fives. If players kept track of the number of fives dealt, they could get an idea of number of fives left in the deck.

Players need not be geniuses or mathematicians to learn the art of card counting; they simply need to learn how to keep track of each card dealt to determine the type of the cards left in the deck to enhance their chances of winning.

How Card Counting Works

Card counting is the art of keeping track of every card that is dealt to players in a bid to effectively alter gaming strategy to enhance one’s chances of winning.

When players sit down at a blackjack table, the card count is considered to be zero. The card count keeps fluctuating depending on the card counting technique used. A successful card counter keeps track of all the cards dealt to all the players as well as the dealer.

A positive card count usually means that cards of smaller value have been played, owing to which the cards left in the deck are cards of higher value. If the deck comprises high-value cards, players can take it for granted that dealers have a greater possibility of going bust, players will get more blackjacks, or players will receiver stronger starting hands.

In case of a high card count, players can afford to bet high because they definitely have a greater edge over the house. If the card count begins to drop and become neutral or negative, players should start betting small because the house edge is greater now.

Blackjack Card Counting Systems

There are several different card counting systems but the most popular ones are – KO Count, Hi-Lo Count, Hi-Opt I Count, and Hi-Opt II Count; and beginners often wonder which card counting system is the best for them. The type of card counting system a player needs to use depends on various factors such as the blackjack variants that interest them, the casino they play at, their skill, and the time they spend playing blackjack, among others.

The basic card counting systems are KO and Hi-Lo Count. Players should master the simpler systems of card counting before moving on to the complex systems.

In the list below you will find all of the card counting systems for blackjack that are still being used by card counters around the world.

  • The Unbalanced Zen 2 Count
  • The Zen Count

Becoming an Expert at Card Counting

Players can become experts only by practicing hard. Nobody becomes a successful card counter overnight; and sometimes, players will have to practice for months and years altogether.

Blackjack players can make use of tools such as counting charts that illustrate players’ hands and dealers’ hands. These tools can be easily carried in pockets, enabling players to practice card counting at any place.

Is Card Counting in Blackjack Legal?

It is definitely not legal for players to use electronic devices to cheat at the blackjack tables; but, it is perfectly alright to use one’s mental abilities to count cards. Casinos, however, are not fond of card counters and have a way of identifying them and turning them out.


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