Blackjack Strategies

How to count cards

The basic principle behind card counting is that high cards, particularly Aces and 10s, are better for the player while it is desired that the dealer be dealt lower-valued cards, namely 4s, 5s and 6s.  A high concentration of Aces and 10-valued cards increase the chances of a Blackjack and 10s improve the value of doubling.  A high number of ten or ten-value cards also makes the insurance bet more profitable.  Low cards are good for the dealer: he must hit stiff hands (hard hands totalling 12 through 16), unlike the player who can hit or stand according to strategy…  Tens will bust all stiff hands and increase the chances of the dealer losing.

It is a myth that a player requires above-average mental skill to count cards.  Counters simply assign a point score to each card that estimates the value of the card while they track only the sum of these values, they do not track and memorize specific cards.

Basic card counting assigns a positive, negative or zero value to each card value.  When a card of a certain value is dealt, the count is adjusted by that card’s counting value.  Low cards increase the count as they increase the percentage of high cards remaining in the shoe, whereas high cards decrease the count for the opposite reason.

The point values assigned to cards aim to correlate to each card’s Effect of Removal (EOR), which refers to the actual effect the removal of one card has on the house advantage.  This then allows the player to gauge the effect of removal for all cards dealt and assess the altered house advantage of the game based on the new composition of cards.

The High-Low system is a level-one (or single-level) count, because the count never increases or decreases by more than one predetermined unit.  The Zen Count or Wong Halves, on the other hand, are multilevel counts and make more fine distinctions between card values.  Rather than all cards having a value of +1, 0, or -1, an advanced count might include card ranks that are counted as +2 and -2.  In addition, advanced players might hold a side count of certain cards, such as Aces, to deal with situations where the best count for betting accuracy differs from the best count for playing accuracy.  Higher-level counts have one disadvantage: they can take away the player’s ability to act quickly and accurately.  More hands played per hour, played with a simple count, can often turn a greater profit.