Basics

The most common variations of card counting are based on statistical evidence that high cards (especially aces and 10s) benefit the player more than the dealer, while the low cards, (especially 4s, 5s, and 6s) help the dealer while hurting the player. A high concentration of aces and 10s in the deck increase the player’s chances of hitting a natural Blackjack, which pays out 3:2 (unless the dealer also has blackjack). Also, when the shoe has a high concentration of 10s, players have a better chance of winning when doubling. Low cards benefit the dealer, since according to blackjack rules the dealer must hit stiff hands (12-16 total) while the player has the option to hit or stand. Thus a dealer holding (12-16) will bust every time if the next card drawn is a 10, making this card essential to track when card counting

Contrary to the popular myth, card counters do not need unusual mental abilities in order to count cards, because they are not tracking and memorizing specific cards. Instead, card counters assign a point score to each card they see that estimates the value of that card, and then they track only the sum of these values, this is called keeping a running count.

Systems

Basic card counting assigns a positive, negative, or zero value to each card value available. When a card of that value is dealt, the count is adjusted by that card’s counting value. Low cards increase the count as they increase the percentage of high cards in the remaining shoe, while high cards decrease it for the opposite reason. For instance, the Hi-Lo system subtracts one for each dealt ten, Jack, Queen, King or Ace, and adds one for any value 2-6. Values 7-9 are assigned a value of zero and therefore do not affect the count.

The High-Low system is considered a single-level or level-one count, because the count never increases or decreases by more than a single, predetermined value.

The following table illustrates a few ranking systems for card counting. Many others exist

Card Strategy

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10, J, Q, K

A

Hi-Lo

+1

+1

+1

+1

+1

0

0

0

−1

−1

Hi-Opt I

0

+1

+1

+1

+1

0

0

0

−1

0

Hi-Opt II

+1

+1

+2

+2

+1

+1

0

0

−2

0

KO

+1

+1

+1

+1

+1

+1

0

0

−1

−1

Omega II

+1

+1

+2

+2

+2

+1

0

−1

−2

0

Zen Count

+1

+1

+2

+2

+2

+1

0

0

−2

−1

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