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An understanding of counting cards in Black Jack games

Apr 18, 2008
Counting cards in Black Jack is not nearly as complex as it sounds when you first hear about the concept. Most of those without the knowledge of how counting cards is achieved are apt to think it involves the ability to keep track of every card that has been dealt out of the shoe which on an eight deck shoe is over four hundred cards and on average the player would need to go about seventy-five percent of the way into the deck before a shuffle happened. So roughly three hundred cards to track.

Counting cards in Black Jack does not involve keeping track of such large numbers however. Counting cards can be achieved by almost anyone using the system that is most often used by card counters. I won't go into all the details because to learn how to count cards and not be proficient at it is akin to giving a toddler a loaded gun after they've been taught how to shoot a child's cap gun. You'd have just enough knowledge to really get yourself in trouble. I say this from experience and i think almost anybody that counts cards will tell you the same. It is almost inevitable that you would lose the count and end up playing hard on a belief that wasn't true. So if you're going to learn to count cards then expect to practice for hours every day for a very long time and that anytime you stop practicing it will be very hard to return to your peak self without first spending the time in practice to get sharp again.

The basic thing to know is that the system is based not on counting cards in the traditional sense but rather on keeping a running count on the number of tens versus low value cards such as three, four, five and six. So whenever a ten (or face card) is shown you would count that as negative one. A low value card is worth a plus one. There are sixteen tens to a deck and there are sixteen threes, fours, fives and sixes when combined. As you can imagine most times the count ... which bounces back and forth, into the negative or positive side of zero, does not stray far from the middle ground. In other words since there are even number of cards that you would count on each side of the equation then it stands to reason that most times the count is going to stay right around even (even being zero).

It is those times when the count does not stay near even that the card counter finds the edge. If the count shows the deck is heavy with low value cards then its best to just back off your bets but if the deck is heavy with tens then it is time to increase your bet to as much as you think you can get away with and not arouse suspicion. (Note: although I have not seen the movie 21, I imagine they used a team and would signal another person when the table was heavy with tens and that person could then step up and bet big without appearing to have had any chance to be counting cards).

Counting cards should not be such a mystery now. Please note that there are further steps to the equation of counting cards that were not discussed in this article such as the factor of how many decks (partial deck in case of single deck play) are left in the shoe as that will effect the running count. Nobody should read (just) this article and walk away thinking they know how to count cards.
About the Author
Steve Briggs is the author of this article on counting cards. Find more information about the subject at www.bondedcasinos.com
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