Card Counting

Did you know that card counting has nothing to do with counting the number of cards played and memorizing those cards? I didn’t!

I honestly thought that a card counter tracked the number and types of cards played by memorizing the number of each card played. In my world a card counter literally new that 3 tens, 1 queen, 3 5s etc had already been played, but in reality card counting has nothing to do with memorizing which cards have been played.

I’m sorry to tell any card counters out there that I am just a little less impressed with your skills than I was only yesterday. Yesterday you were Blackjack Idols with the memories that were closer to computers than anything else. Today you are just Blackjack Idols with impressive skills… sorry :)

In case there is anyone like me that has no idea what card counting is I’ll explain it like I did with Basic Strategy.

There are a number of different card counting strategies available but I’ve only looked at two of them, the Hi-Low system and the Wizard Ace/Five system.

The Hi-Low system is the most basic of the card counting systems. Each card is assigned either a +1, -1 or 0 value to it. As each card is dealt you will either add (+1), subtract (-1), or do nothing to a running count in your head and adjust your wagers based on this count.

The cards valued 2 through 6 as assigned a value of +1.
Ten valued cards (including Faces and Aces) are assigned a value of -1.
The cards 7, 8, and 9 are assigned a value of 0.

Using this distribution when a full deck has been dealt your running count should be zero as there are an equal number of +1 valued cards and -1 valued cards.

So to use this system you would wait until a new deck(s) is introduced at the table and add the appropriate value to your count (which starts at zero) as each card is dealt.
As an example I just started a hand and the cards dealt to me were 5 and 2 and the dealer has an Ace as their face up card. The count would look like this +1 for the five, +1 for the two and -1 for the Ace so my current running count is +1 (1+1-1=1). I take another card and I am dealt a 4 which changes the count to +2. Again I take another card which is a King, which bring my count back to +1. Since the King gives me 21 it is the deals turn and I get to see what cards the dealer has and will get. Their hole card was a 4 and they drew a 9 and 10. So with these cards there is no change in my running count because the 4 is worth +1, The 9 is worth 0 and the 10 is worth -1 (1+0-1=0). This means after the first hand my running count is at +1 which means that there are a more 10 valued cards in the deck and I should increase my wager as I am now more likely to be dealt a Blackjack than I was on the last hand.

Here is how my second hand worked out.
Player: 4, 2, Q, (+1)
Dealer: 5, 6, 3, 6 (+4)
New running count total: (+6)

Well thats all for my first post on Card Counting. In my next post I will discuss a simple card counting system called the Wizard Ace/Five.

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