How to Beat the Casino Playing Blackjack

September 9th, 2010 by admin Leave a reply »

Before I knew any better I used to think counting cards was a skill reserved for members of Mensa, or savants with Rainman-like abilities. I mean, who can possibly remember every single card that has been dealt from a shoe of 4, 5, 6 or however many decks and mentally compute which cards are remaining to be dealt?

The MIT blackjack team could do it. But then they’re a group of geniuses hand picked as the most gifted numerates from a university renowned to attract the best and brightest mathematicians from around the world. Give up on the possibility right. Wrong.

Counting cards in blackjack really isn’t as hard as it sounds. There are a number of methods used to count cards, and contrary to popular belief none of them involve memorizing every card dealt. One of the simplest is the Hi-Lo method.

Like all counting methods, the foundation of this system is based on the fact that a high card rich deck/shoe makes for favorable playing conditions for the player. The more ‘ten’ cards in the deck/shoe, the better the player’s probability of winning as they are able to make more pat hands and the dealer will bust more often when forced to hit. And effectively applying the Hi-Lo method of card counting allows the player to gauge how high-card rich the remaining deck/shoe is.

The best part is, there’s no requirement to memorize any cards. All you need to do is assign a value to each card; +1 for twos, threes, fours, fives and sixes; 0 for sevens, eights and nines; -1 for all ten cards. As each card is dealt, the corresponding value is added to a running count that you must keep from the first card dealt. This sounds very simple, but it is actually quite tricky to do when surrounded by distractions. And casinos as we know are distraction filled environments. You chat with other players, the dealer, waiting staff and also have a plethora of in-your-face sights and sounds to deal with.

A nice way to practice this skill is to deal yourself a deck and keep a running count. If your count is zero after all cards are dealt you got it right. Now deal yourself progressively faster and faster until the count becomes second nature.

The next little part of the puzzle is betting to the count. In simplistic terms, when your running count is high towards the end of the shoe, you increase your bet stake. If the count is very high (10+), you increase your bet stake considerably. Conversely, a negative count means there will be little joy for you in the remaining shoe.

Of course the above is all theory and should be premised by a couple of important considerations. First, most terrestrial casinos will kick you out when they see you betting to a count pattern. Second, counting at online casinos is useless as each deal is from a full shuffled (virtual) deck precluding the possibility of counting.

Those casinos just don’t seem to like customers winning too much!

Milton Shaw is a staff writer for popular online gambling portal 4 Online Gambling

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