Blackjack is a game of chance, we all know it, but who said that luck is the only parameter that conditions the winnings at this game? With the different strategies, it can be beneficial to know how to count cards in blackjack. Although, it is essential to know when to draw a card, when to stay, when to double or when to split, but you should also focus on learning the techniques for counting cards, and then put them into practice.
Card counting allows the player to improve his or her strategy by using the information on the remaining cards. If you want to maximise the odds of not exceeding 21 and winning in blackjack, it is essential for you to control them if you do not want to go away empty-handed from the casino.
There are several ways to count the cards without having to memorise each card played. In this guide we will show you the most popular card counting systems: Hi-Lo Counting System, KO Counting System, Omega II Counting System, Hi-Opt I Counting System and The Wong Halves Counting System.
Best blackjack card counting strategies
Hi-Lo Counting System (For beginners)
This is a counting method developed by Harvey Dubner in 1963. This system is perfect for the ones who are just starting to play blackjack, it is definitely a quick and easy way to learn. The principle is simple. Each card is assigned a value.
2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are given the value of +1.
7, 8 and 9 are given the value of 0.
10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace are given the value of -1.
The account starts at 0. When the dealer distributes the cards, you must accumulate the values of the cards issued. The total is the Running Count or RC. As the casinos are now using multiple decks of cards, it will be necessary to transform this RC into TC or True Count. The latter is obtained by dividing the RC by the number of remaining packs.
Let’s take an example, here is the sequence of the output cards: 5, 7, A, 6, 3, 8 and Jack.
RC = +1 + 0 – 1 + 1 + 1 + 0 – 1 = +1
Let’s say there are 2 packs of games left.
TC = 1/2 = 0.5
This is the actual estimate of your advantage or misalignment to the game. In general, the player has an advantage when the TC is high. If the total is around 0, neither the dealer or the player has an advantage. On the contrary, if the total is minimal, the bank has the advantage.
KO Counting System
This is the only card counting technique that is not balanced. This is done on purpose, simply to avoid having to refine the result with a real account system. For this to be possible, the inventors simply changed a given value in the values with respect to the Hi-Lo method. Indeed, the 7 now takes a value of +1 and not 0. When you play blackjack on a table with 6 card games, you will start counting not from 0 but rather from -20, this is the particularity of this system that is very accurate during the game.
Omega II Counting System
Compared to the previous ones, Omega II is a much more complex card counting system. Despite its Higher efficiency, this system is more difficult to master than most of the other ones on this list. It requires more concentration, time and practice. Because this is a multi-level system, certain cards can have a value of +/-1 and +/-2.
2,3 and 7 are given the value of +1
4, 5 and 6 are given the value of +2.
9 is equal to -1
10, Jack, Queen and King are given the value of -2.
It would be wise to keep a separate count of the Aces dealt during the game. This is card counting system is really well balanced, so if the player manages to keep a correct track of all cards from the deck, then he or she will come up with a zero when all cards have been dealt.
Hi-Opt I Counting System – (When you are playing alone at the table)
This is a system that will have to be used by players who will play blackjack where there will only be one or two games of cards. This is a balanced method.
This system is more challenging to put in place because of the values that often change. The value of the cards will be modified a little bit, but the system remains the same at the counting level.
2, 7, 8, 9 and Ace are given the value of 0
3, 4, 5, 6 are given the value of +1
10, Jack, Queen, King are given the value of -1
You start with 0 then subtract or add a number of points every time a new card appears, the final result of your counting should be 1.
The Wong Halves Counting System
This system is certainly the most advanced system on this list. We do not advise this one for the card-counting beginners. It requires a great amount of practice and perseverance, but once you master this system, it can prove to be very accurate when playing blackjack. As the Omega II, this is also a balanced system which means that once every card in the deck has been dealt, the final result of your calculations should amount to zero. Players should calculate their true counts after each deck has been dealt. The main difficulty of the Wong Halves System is that some cards are attributed a fraction value, but calculating fractions may be rather challenging to some players. For the ones having difficulties with keeping track with the fractions, you can simply double the values of ½.
10, Jack, King, Queen and Ace are given the value of -1
8 is equal to -1/2
9 has a neutral value of 0
5 is equal to 1 ½
3, 4 and 6 are given the value of 1
2 and 7 are given the value of ½.
Know how to manage your chips
Never go beyond 10% of your chips. If you feel confident, you can slightly exceed this threshold, but this must remain an exception. It is always better to see your chips increase gradually, even if it’s slowly than to see everything disappear at once.
As in any casino game or online game, it can be very easy and quick to lose money. The best blackjack strategy is therefore to have good betting management. This is a paramount condition. You have to learn how to manage your money to make wins. This is the big difference between professional players and the ones who play blackjack for fun. The pro player will weigh each chip that he or she wagers. The novice player starts the game with a pile of chips but often leaves the table empty-handed 10 minutes later. The reason is that a novice player just let his or her emotions take over. You simply need to master how to limit your bets.
Master the game and its possibilities
Only a fool would venture to bet real money in a game that he or she does not understand the rules of blackjack. All professional blackjack players have started novices, but if they have reached where they are, it is surely thanks to their perfect control of the game and its various possibilities. If you want to maximise your chances of winning blackjack and become the new Ben Campbell, start by reading all the information you can find on this game. Go beyond what everyone can learn. Learn about rules, strategies, ask the pros for advice, visit the forums, try a blackjack simulator, look for card counting tutorials or even watch counting cards movies like 21. Remember that, lucky or not, only a player who perfectly masters the game can win.
Adopt the right behaviour
It can happen to any of us to snap after losing a bet, and at that moment, we often tend to play all the rest of the chips at once under the influence of emotion. This attitude is to be banned because only amateur players act in this way. You have to think about every penny you bet. If you think the storm has not passed yet, remove or bet as little as possible. Then gradually raise the bets once you feel back on track.
Don’t take the insurance
Never take the insurance. This is one of the biggest tips of professional blackjack players. Insurance is an option that the player can choose when the dealer has a visible Ace. This option allows the player to bet half of his or her stake. If the dealer has a blackjack, then he or she earns double insurance, the amount of the bet. So, finally, the dealer does not lose money. If the dealer has no blackjack, he or she loses the insurance. Even if it is very tempting, this option is discouraged to the extent that the bank often benefits from it. You have to be a good card counter to get started.
Is counting cards illegal?
Although laws vary in different countries, regarding British laws, counting card is not illegal in the United Kingdom.
Card counting is a blackjack strategy, which involves evaluating the interest of the remaining cards to play. This technique is not considered to be cheating as you only use your brain to keep counting cards. Nevertheless, casinos don’t tolerate card counting and will usually try to prevent it by banning players who are believed to be such counters.
Know when to stop
Professional blackjack players can spend hours on the table. However, when the losses follow one another, you must avoid betting big all at once. Stop when you feel that you are no longer playing in your normal state. A good player knows how to set limits. Do not spend more than two hours playing blackjack. Fatigue can lead us to make unreasonable decisions.