Counting cards Wiki

Count Cards

Statistically speaking, you are doomed to lose at every game on the casino floor — unless, that is, you can count cards. At the blackjack table, speedy math skills can flip the advantage from the house to you. Granted, it's a small edge — 2 percent at best, which is nowhere near as good as dragging Rain Man to Vegas. But what have you got to lose? (Oh, yeah, all that money.)

Bring mucho moola. Your edge will come from betting more when the dealer's shoe — a device for holding multiple decks of cards — is rich with big cards, which tend to help you and hurt the house. Success takes time and a bankroll of at least 400 times your standard bet.

Count and cancel. Using the classic Hi-Lo method, you start with zero at the shuffle. For every 10, face card, or ace that hits the table, subtract a point. For every 2 through 6 card, add a point (the 7, 8, and 9 cards = zero points). When possible, let cards cancel each other out to save time.

Divide and bet. Before each hand, divide your count by the estimated number of decks left in the shoe (tip: guess how many decks are in the discard stack and subtract that amount from the total number used in the game — usually six). When the result hits +2, bet like a big dog.

Be inconspicuous. Don't move your lips as you calculate. Or bet too many chips. Counting cards isn't against the law, but a suspicious pit boss will show you the door — or just signal the dealer to shuffle, which wipes out your boosted odds and sets the count back to zero. D'oh!

Learn basic strategy. Basic strategy is a mathematically calculated optimum way to play your hand in every situation. There are variations in strategy according to the number of decks used and the different blackjack rules. A perfect basic strategy player plays at almost no disadvantage to the house.

Learn deviations. A deviation is a change from basic strategy by playing the hand differently according to the true count. There are many deviations, but start by learning the "illustrious 18", that should get you started.

Originally submitted by Lucas Graves. This article is a STUB. You can help us make it better by editing or expanding it. Log in at the top of the page to get started.

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