Blackjack Card Counting - Main Principles

Blackjack is rather an old game and during its history a lot of good gamblers tried to find out the algorithm of winning in this game. How it went you will better see in the section called History of Card Counting. Here we will only deal with general principles, ways of counting and make out how this all works.

Card counting in general is rather effective strategy and a strong tool to be used against casinos. Moreover, it is the only absolutely legal way to take over the casino.


The principles of card counting are as follows: the player tracks all the cards which have been dealt to during the game and basing on it makes conclusions concerning the odds of his own and the dealer's. Those odds are counted in such a way: the player keeps in mind a definite number which is added or subtracted from the starting point of zero.

According to the resulting odds the player enlarges or reduces his bet. The higher odds are calculated by him for the player, the higher stake is made, and when it comes to the opposite - it's time to spare the money and to reduce the bet.

Two kinds of counting systems exist - they are called unbalanced and balanced. What means each we'll explain a bit later.

Cards Values in Card Counting

The main point to remember is that points in card counting are absolutely different comparing to cards value in Blackjack game itself. The following numbers are used to reflect the value of cards when counting them:

  • 2,3,4,5,6 are counted as +1.
  • 7,8,9 are counted as 0.
  • 10,J, Q, K, A are counted as -1.

Let's go deeper into it on the example.


Imagine you are playing with the dealer in a Single Deck Blackjack. Also two other players are playing against him. You are on the third base. The cards are dealt and you start to count in your mind.

You get a 9 and an Ace. You standand take no more cards.

The player on the second base gets 2 and 7. He hits and gets 5. He hits and gets 3. He decides to risk, hits for one more card which appears to be one more 5. Player busts.

Third player's cards are 9 and 9. He decides to split and gets a 2 and a J. He hits on the first hand and gets 8.

The first hand of his totals now 19. He stands. The second hand also totals 19. He also stands.

The dealer reveals his hand and has 3, and 10. He hits and gets 4. Due to the rules he gets 6 and busts.

And the counter in your head works out the next sum:

You0(9)-1(Ace) which totals -1.

Second player 1(2)+0(7)+1(5)+1(3)+1(5)=4.

Third player0(9)+0(9)+1(2)-1(J)=0.

Dealer 1(3)-1(10)+1(4)+1(6)=2.

Put everything together and get (-1)+4+0+2=5. Now it's your total counter from which you count next time. This means that a lot of small cards have been dealt and in the remaining deck a lot of 10-valued cards left, which is preferable for you. Generally if the counter totals 4+ your odds are becoming higher and you may increase the bet.

The game goes on but now you are armed and more confident, because you know what cards have left the game. This is called a Running count and it only works when 1 deck of cards is played. This is an unbalanced card counting system - it can be only used with 1 deck of cards.

A balanced card counting system uses an unbalanced one in respect to a few decks. It is applied rather easily: the true count in the game with more than one deck is equal to the running count divided by the number of decks left in shoe. This unsophisticated formula enables to count the odds precisely and accurately.


Card counting requires practice. It's not so easy to play and to count simultaneously. Train and find out more for yourself with pleasure. For advanced players we can advise Hi/Lo Strategy.

Short article on blackjack tips

Comparing to various casino games blackjack tips are crucial for players as this game is highly complicated and demands versatile knowledge.

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