Blackjack Card Counting

Blackjack is considered by many players the most popular casino game out there, and it owes its popularity, in part, to the multiple winning strategies developed through the years. Yet, few of the other blackjack strategies proved to be as effective as card counting. Even though it’s not the easiest skill to master, counting cards is the way to reduce the house edge and win more. Below you will find the answer to “How to count cards in blackjack?” and an introduction to various card counting strategies. We’re also thoroughly exploring the famous “Einstein method,” calculating the true count, and when it’s not a good idea to try card counting.

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What is Card Counting in Blackjack?

Simply put, card counting is a technique that enables players to know when the house edge is low or non-existent. It’s all about keeping track of the played cards with a special focus on high and low-value cards and adjusting the bet according to the count. High-value cards benefit the player more than the dealer, while the low-value cards are more advantageous for the dealer. These are the sets of cards you need to keep track of when you try any counting strategy.

How Does Counting Cards Help You Win?

By counting cards, blackjack players know precisely when to increase their bets since the advantage shifted in their favor. The system works both ways as it also tells players when to keep the bet size low because the winning chances are slim. Varying bet sizes through card counting will create a positive advantage over the dealer and lead to consistent wins. It goes without saying that all blackjack card counting systems require consistent gameplay. So, you should be ready for the long haul.

Card Counting Strategies

Over the years, players and mathematicians developed various card counting strategies. And while the card counting technique is pretty much the same in all of them, the difference comes from the players’ decision when the count hits certain levels. A note before we delve further into various strategies: when it comes to card counting, online blackjack is less likely to provide a positive outcome. More specifically, always avoid RNG online blackjack since no strategy will work there. It’s best to stick to live-dealer online tables if you want to try your counting skills.

Hi Lo Card Counting

The Hi Lo card counting method is the most accessible one. Therefore, it is used by most players that want to improve their advantage. This strategy can be the answer to “How to count cards in blackjack with multiple cards?” as it works on games with a higher number of decks. Here’s how it goes:

  • The first step is to assign values to each rank of cards (cards from 2 to 6 have a +1 value; from 7 to 9 equal 0; and from 10 to Ace have a -1 value)
  • When the game begins, start a count from zero and track the cards played to add or subtract according to the previous step’s values. 
  • To be able to make any decisions, you’ll need the True Count. This is achieved by dividing the count by the numbers of decks that are left to be played. 
  • The greater the true count, the bigger your bet should be as your winning chances are greater with a high value of the true count

Knock Out Method

The Knock Out method is similar to the Hi Lo we’ve just covered. However, it comes with two big differences as well. It uses the same card value presented above. However, instead of always starting with a count of 0 no matter the number of decks, you will adjust your starting count depending on how many decks the game is played with. 

  • 1 deck – starting count of 0
  • 2 decks – starting count of -4
  • 6 decks – starting count of -20
  • 8 decks – starting count of -28

The other particularity of the KO method refers to removing the need to get a True Count. By adjusting the starting count from the beginning, you won’t need to go through those tough divisions to get the True Count. 

Hi Opt Method (Einstein Method)

This strategy gains you the most significant advantage over the dealer. However, it’s also the hardes to implement and it comes in two different versions. 

Hi Opt I

This version of the Einstein Method was one the most popular count for games played with a single deck. However, since that’s no longer the case in both online and offline casinos, this strategy can’t be broadly used. The card values for Hi Opt I are:

  • 0 for A,2,7,8, and 9
  • 1 for 3,4,5, and 6
  • – 1 for 10 and face cards

Like with Hi Lo card counting, start a count of 0 and keep track of the cards played. Since this strategy mainly applies to single-deck blackjack, getting a True Count isn’t too difficult. Once the True Count is greater than 1, start increasing bets so you take full advantage of when the odds are in your favour without drawing attention. 

Hi Opt II

It’s with Hi Opt II where your math skills are truly put to the test. In its raw version, this strategy is pretty similar to Hi Opt I. However, this one also comes with many side counts and other parameters that make it really difficult. The good news is that you can use it in multi-deck blackjack games without needing side counts. Here’s how it goes:

  • 0 for A,8, and 9
  • 1 for 2,3,6, and 7
  • – 2 for 10 and face cards

Since it works with multiple decks, getting an exact True Count also becomes more difficult than Hi Opt I. However, you’ll get a lot more power and accuracy if you manage to master this strategy. 

When Should You Not Try Counting Cards?

All players that asked themselves, “Can you count cards in online blackjack?” at least once will appreciate this section. Playing online blackjack is one of the situations when counting cards shouldn’t be your go-to strategy for winning. First of all, card counting is impossible in RNG blackjack. Secondly, in some online blackjack games the cards are shuffled way too often to allow you to get an advantage by counting cards. You should also steer clear of card counting when there are more than 7 decks in play as it makes card counting almost impossible. 

What is “True Count” and How to Calculate it?

The True Count is the value that ultimately helps you win more when playing blackjack. The True Count value is obtained by dividing the running count of any blackjack strategy to the remaining decks. This value gives you an accurate idea of what cards are left to be played and, after seeing your hand, helps you determine the bet size to maximize the advantage. With all this in mind, you just need to start practicing card counting strategies to improve and master them. Also, if the thought of “Is counting cards illegal?” pops up in your mind every now and then, there’s nothing to worry about. None of these strategies are against the law in any way. 

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