Counting cards in the casino world has taken on an almost mythical quality. Having been popularised in the Oscar-winning movie Rain Man, casino goers across the world treat it as some deeply esoteric strategy that requires savant level numerical skills. The fact of the matter is, however, somewhat more prosaic, and players might be surprised to find that counting cards is a relatively easy strategy and commonly used in both online and brick and mortar casinos. In this article, we will give an overview of what exactly card counting is, how it’s used in blackjack, and whether it is the guarantee of betting success that many believe it to be.
Basic card counting can be broken down into a few essential steps:
The general strategy for card counting in blackjack uses a hi to low (Hi-Lo) strategy. This entails giving high cards a specific value (such as -1), whilst low cards are given a corresponding value (+1). When these are added up, they provide a total running count. This allows players to figure out what their chances are of hitting 21. Armed with this information, the player can then decide to adjust in terms of how much they want to bet. If the running count is positive (i.e. +2 or above), this indicates a good opportunity to increase your bet.
Due to the influence of media depictions with somewhat unrealistic and inaccurate displays of card counting, the strategy has gained a bad reputation over the years. Indeed, card counting is a legitimate strategy that can be finely honed and simply puts to use readily available information in a game to use in a strategic, quantifiable way. As such, card counting is more akin to a set of tools that can be used by anyone rather than a guarantee of success or some sort of secret hack. Having said that, the practice is still frowned upon by many casinos around the world simply because it reduces the house edge.
Although by this stage you might be under the impression that given how powerful counting cards is as a strategy in blackjack, there is no point in playing without doing; you would be sorely mistaken! Indeed, counting cards isn’t the only way to increase your chances of blackjack success and represents only one amongst many strategies.
With that said, here are two popular alternative strategies for counting cards:
Card counting strategies in blackjack are complex and very difficult to master. Even when you execute the plan perfectly, the amount of time you must put into a particular table and the often drastic swings in your bankroll can make it an exercise in futility! Luckily, card counting isn’t the only way to win in blackjack and as such ‘hold carding’ and ‘front loading’ present alternative strategies you can easily implement. If this article has given you the itch to get playing, click the link and get practising at Bitcasino today!
Words: Sean McNulty