How to Count Cards in Blackjack

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Blackjack gamblers can use card counting to maintain track of the amount of high and low cards. This technique helps them determine which players will have the upper hand in the next round. 

A common misconception among players is that card counting requires a high level of intelligence to be good at it. The truth is that card counting varies in terms of difficulty level. There are beginner-friendly card-counting methods, as well as, advanced-level approaches; all of which are effective.

Our article provides insight into how card counting is done, some strategies you can use, and other relevant topics. So, if you’d like to learn more, kindly keep reading. 


We’ll be sharing with you the fundamental steps used in card counting especially when playing blackjack. However, it’s important to know that card counting will mostly work in land-based casinos that don’t reshuffle the deck after every hand. That being said, let’s get started:

Learn the Card Values

To get started with card counting, the first thing to do is give each card a numerical value. Conventional blackjack card counting methods make use of the following card values: 

  • 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 equals +1
  • 7, 8, and 9 equals 0
  • 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace equals -1

Counting Cards

Each time a new card is dealt, you must apply the values you assigned to the cards and keep a count. 

For example, if the dealer presents a 6 (+1), your count will increase by 1. If a 7 (0) and a jack (-1) are presented, your count returns to 0. Furthermore, if the dealer opens with a 3 (+1) followed by an 8 (0), your final count will be +1.

Calculate the True Count

Back in the day, blackjack games were played with a single deck of cards, providing players with the lowest house edge. It was much easier to remove this house edge with a simple blackjack strategy. However, modern blackjack games come with more than a single deck of cards. This has made it difficult to count the cards using the basic approach. 

True counting is a technique employed in recent blackjack games. It’s used to determine the actual number of cards by tallying the decks currently in use. 

To do this, you must divide the current count by the total number of decks used. For instance, if there are six decks in use and the current count is +12, then the true count is +2. You should know that the true count in blackjack card counting alters the house edge for the remaining deck. 

Take Advantage of the Count

Placing your bet is the next step after establishing a count. It’s wise to start off modestly and progressively increase your bets as you go. With this, you’ll have a better winning chance. 

Change the Basics

It’s easy for you to stray from the fundamental blackjack techniques when your card counting total rises. Don’t allow intuition to take over; let your decision be guided by your data-driven calculations. 


Blackjack players who want to know whether they have a statistically significant edge can employ the card counting approach. If it favors the player, they’ll raise their stake, and if not, they’ll lower their stake. By varying bets in this way, the player has the upper hand over the house. 

How Does Card Counting Work?

Memorizing the cards dealt isn’t necessary for card counting, despite common perception. Instead, what you need to do is have a rough estimation of the remaining deck’s value. This allows for a flexible approach to gameplay and wager size. 

Blackjack has some of the finest odds among casino games, but it also has room for player strategy. Through their decisions, participants can affect the result of each hand. Also, they have a better chance of winning when the deck has more cards worth 10 or 11 points. 

Card Counting Strategies

You may beat the house at blackjack using the following card-counting strategies:

Hi-Lo System

Blackjack Hi-Lo Card Counting System Tutorial - How To Win At The Casino -  YouTube

The Hi-Lo strategy blends three ranks of cards in a deck equal to zero. It’s also frequently known as the balanced counting system. These levels include high, neutral, and low cards. Hi-Lo requires taking track of all the cards in the game, as well as those held by the dealer and other participants. 

High cards carry a -1 value, resulting in a decrease in a player’s advantage. Low cards, however, are advantageous to the dealer because they are worth +1 point. Note that there are cards that have zero value, and they include 7s, 8s, and 9s. 

The Omega II System

Omega II is a multi-level card counting system with count values of +/-2. Like Hi-Low, it’s a balanced system except that it can be used to count in games with more than one deck of cards.

The value levels in the Omega II system allow you to better assess your advantage using the true count. As a result, it enables you to place bets that are better aligned with your advantage. However, if you make an incorrect count, you’ll lose your advantage. 

In addition, it’s important to know the number of Aces that are left in the deck. If you do this, your chances of beating the house edge will be higher. 

Wong Halves System

As far as card-counting techniques go, Wong Halves is the most complicated. It’s a multi-level system like Omega II, except that it has three value levels. 

Wong Halves is the only card-counting system that employs fractional values. As a result, counting cards becomes practically difficult for players. Nevertheless, this system predicts a player’s advantage with remarkable precision. 

The Wong Halves technique works with the same approach as the other systems on the list. Players must keep a tally of cards in play and should always count from zero after a reshuffle. 

True Count in Blackjack: How it Affects Card Counting

Gamers make inaccurate wagers because they have a lower advantage in a 6- or 8-deck blackjack game compared to a single-deck game. So rather than using running count, they opt for the true count since it works better in multi-deck blackjack games. The genuine count can be obtained by dividing the running count by the number of decks that are still active. 

For example, you’re playing blackjack with 8 decks, and your count is currently at +7. Supposing you calculated that there are about 4 decks left in play, then the true count is +1.75. This means dividing +7 by 4.

Your advantage grows as the true count increases. You should place your wager when you are in a stronger position. However, if you don’t, it’s best not to place any wagers.  

How Much Money Should I Wager when Counting Cards?

Many factors, including bankroll size and blackjack rules, affect the player’s betting style during card counting. The majority of casinos are aware of the betting patterns in card-counting gambling books and employ them to identify card counters. 

To know how much to bet when card counting, here’s what to do:

Let’s say you have a betting unit valued at $10 and a true count of +3, then you should subtract the true count from the single betting unit (i.e., 3-1). 

You’ll be left with 2, and since a single betting unit is $10, 2 betting units will be $20. This $20 should be your wager. 

How to Count Cards with a Single Deck

One Deck Game Cards – Cartesian Cards

For single-deck blackjack games, the running count is what you need to determine your advantage. This means you can focus on incorporating the basic strategy into your count as you play.  

Novice card counters should opt for single-deck blackjack games since they’re easier and offer the best odds. Furthermore, the house edge in a single-deck blackjack game is 0.16%. 

Card Counting Tips

We’ve already discussed card counting as well as strategies for card counting. Now, we’ll be providing you with a few helpful tips before you go about applying what you’ve learned:

Learn the Basic Strategy Perfectly

Getting familiar with basic strategies is essential for optimal performance at the blackjack table. Your goal is to reduce the house’s advantage to a minimum, so making the right call requires access to accurate information. Utilize the information that we have supplied to you in this text. 

Check the Blackjack Rules

When the stakes are higher, insurance can be a good bet. Therefore, it’s crucial that the rules are in your favor. Regulations that afford you the ability to double down on whatever hand, and split many times can be helpful. 

Furthermore, you need to look into how many decks are used. This is because your chance of winning improves when there are fewer decks of cards in play. If the number of decks isn’t shown, you can always ask the dealer

Study the Tables

Checking how often the dealer shuffles the cards is a crucial detail to investigate beforehand. If the decks are shuffled every few hands, then there’s no need to count the cards. 

This is due to the fact that it is challenging to maintain the pace of the cards after each shuffling. You should also note the betting limitations to avoid wagers that prevent you from betting big when it’s in your favor. 

Manage Your Bankroll

Managing your bankroll plays a major role in card counting. The primary aim is to beat the house edge by using actual data to your advantage. However, it’ll take a long time to see any returns because the advantage is minimal. This is why long-term money management skills are crucial to your success. 

Practice Makes Perfect

At first, learning how to count cards could seem like an overwhelming chore. Nevertheless, with time and effort, you can improve your skills. There are free online blackjack games you can use for practice. You can also practice with a deck of cards if you want something more real. 

Is Counting Cards Illegal?

To the best of our knowledge, card counting is legal, especially in places like the US. On the other hand, if you make use of devices or another player, then it’s illegal. It’s worth noting that casinos have the right to ban card counters who they believe are winning way too much money.  

Card Counting During Live Online Blackjack

If you look up ‘card counting in live blackjack’ online, the things you see are often conflicting advice. While it’s possible to count cards in live blackjack, it’s extremely challenging. 

Most online casinos employ numerous measures that hinder players from card counting. Some of these methods include the following:   

  • Continuous Shuffling Machines (CSM): This machine is used to shuffle decks of cards, making it hard to count the cards. 
  • Deck Penetration: Another measure used by online casinos is the deck penetration method. Once 50% of the cards have been played, the 8-deck shoes are switched, making card counting ineffective.  
  • Rounds Per Hour: Players who count cards can only win so much in live blackjack because of the limited number of playable hands. The game advances slowly, which is why there is a limit. In other words, card counting is less effective in live blackjack. 
  • Blackjack Rules: It’s important to note that with live blackjack, the rules can change. When it does, and it favors the house, card counting can become less helpful. An example of rules that are in favor of the house includes 6:5 payouts and the dealer hiring on Soft 17.
  • Card Scanning: There are cases where dealers scan cards before putting them on the table. Casinos that use this method, secretly examine the player’s betting patterns and the cards on the tables to identify card counters. 

If you wish to play live blackjack, there are certain things you can do to gain an upper hand. First, you should choose online casinos with 3:2 payouts for blackjack. In addition, go for live blackjack games with rules that favor players. 


A player’s precision and commitment to practice determine the card counting system that’s best for them. Wong Halves and other advanced-level systems rely on making precise calculations. Other than that, any minor inaccuracies made while using these techniques can result in a loss of profit. So do well to practice and understand the strategy before applying it for real. Also, ensure you only register to play at a reputable casino. For online gamers, test your card counting skills and other blackjack strategies at Bet999 online casino.

One Reply to “How to Count Cards in Blackjack”

  • Yusuf Everett says:

    I found the explanation of basic strategy and playing deviations in blackjack very informative. Thanks for sharing this valuable insight.

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