Count cards to increase your chances at Black Jack
Count cards to increase your chances at Black Jack

Count cards to increase your chances at Black Jack

With count cards at Blackjack the Odds increase: This is how you as a player can beat the croupier and make money in the casino win! Practice now !

The prerequisite is that you have Blackjack rules in perfection and in every situation exactly the right action out of the optimal Blackjack strategy at the ready. There are different systems for counting cards. We focus here on the Hi-Lo count.

  1. With how many Packs of cards is played? 1, 2, 4, 6 or 8?
  2. Count all cards from the shuffle = Running Count
  3. low cards (2, 3, 4, 5 and 6) count +1
  4. high cards (10, J, Q, K and Ace) count -1
  5. 7, 8 and 9 are neutral and can be ignored
  6. Always know how many decks have not yet been played.
  7. Divide Running Count by remaining deck count = True Count
  8. The higher the True Count, the higher the stake

What is counting cards?

Card counting is a special strategy used in blackjack to identify when a player has an advantage. Card counting is based on mathematical probability (stochastic). Each card played changes the expected value of the cards to come. Based on the cards played, one can draw conclusions about the cards still to be expected in a continuous draw.

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In a simple blackjack deck of 52 cards, each Card value of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace in four colours. For example, if the ace of hearts is dealt, there are only three aces left. The probability of another of the remaining three aces is lower than for other cards of which no card has yet been dealt and therefore four are still available.

According to this principle, mathematicians have developed various systems for blackjack, because here some cards have a greater influence on winning or losing than others. A single card played does not have much significance. The more cards are dealt, the more accurately you can calculate the chances of winning.

The best-known counting system is called "Hi-Lo". The system offers the perfect mix of simplicity and accuracy. This gives beginners the best chance of winning. The "Red 7 Count" by blackjack author Arnold Snyder is a little simpler, but not quite as accurate (and therefore more profitable). There are also more complicated counts such as the one from "Ken Uston"

How does card counting work in blackjack?

Most card counting systems have in common that all card values are divided into two groups. In the following, card counting with the Hi-Lo Count explains.

running count

The "running count" is the "running counter".

You start counting after the dealer has shuffled.

Each card is assigned a corresponding value depending on the counting system used.


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The Hi-Lo Count, as the name suggests, distinguishes between high (high) and low (low) cards.

Low cards (2 - 6) are good cards and get +1

With low cards you are happy when they are played. You don't want to get these cards if you're betting big. Good cards include 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, which are the five low card values. Whenever one of these cards is played, you count +1.

High cards (10, J, Q, K, A) are bad card and get -1

The counterpart is the high cards. When these are played it is bad, as they give you high point values like a blackjack (ace & ten value card). If a high card of value 10, J, Q, K or Ace is played, you count -1 each time.

Tip: Always count cards in pairs

To avoid having to count each card individually, wait until each player has received two cards. Starting hands with one high and one low card result in 0, so you can ignore this hand. This saves a lot of time and concentration, because you don't have to count +1 and then -1 again, but simply do nothing at all.

True Count depending on the number of decks

Unfortunately, the running count is not very useful. With the Hi-Lo count, you always convert the running count into the "true count". To do this, divide the running count by the number of remaining card decks.

How are you supposed to know how many decks are left?

To do this, you first need to know how many decks of cards are played with at all. As a rule, 6 decks of cards from a card slide (shoe) are played with. That is 312 cards. The cards played are placed in a transparent collection box to the right of the dealer. From this you can see how many cards have already been played. A deck of cards is about as thick as a thumb. When two decks have been played, there are four decks left. So you divide the running count by 4.

When three decks have been dealt, there are only three more decks left and you divide by three.

With a Running Count of +8 and only two decks remaining, you get a True Count of +4. That would be a very good situation, for example.

ADAPTING THE SET: Bankroll & Money Management

The following is needed to calculate the deployment:

  1. A total bankroll (BR) as a basis (e.g. 1000 Euro / better 10,000 Euro)
  2. Kelly criterion: variable use depending on the Bankroll
  3. true count

The higher the True Count, the higher the stake.

The True Count tells you how high the bet should be.

With a negative true count, you always bet the minimum bet or don't play at all.

If more low cards (+1) are played, the True Count rises into the posivite range.

In order to maximize profit, one should use the Kelly Criterion use. With "Kelly" you bet as much as you have a percentage advantage.

To calculate the advantage, subtract -1.5 from the True Count. The result is the advantage.

If the True Count is 5, the advantage in this case is +3.5, so you should bet 3.5% of your bankroll. With a bankroll of 1000, the bet would be $35.

Simplified deployment strategy

A rule of thumb formula for use might be:


This means that the stake is always one unit less than the True Count. If the True Count is +5, the bet is 4 units. A unit can be either the table minimum (5 dollars) or another amount corresponding to the bankroll (10 dollars / 15 dollars / 20 dollars / 25 dollars etc).

If you play with a 1000 Euro bankroll and 10 Dollar units, you could bet the following:

  • TC +1 or less: Minimum bet
  • TC +2: $10
  • TC +3: $20
  • TC +4: $30
  • TC +5: $40
  • TC +6: $50
  • TC +7: $60
  • TC +8: $70
  • TC +9: $80


Before risking money on blackjack in a real casino, you should practise counting cards. To do this, take a pack of cards and draw one card at a time. Count -1 for each high card and +1 for each low card and keep an eye on the time. Good counters count through a deck of 52 cards in 10-20 seconds. Once you have reached this speed, always deal two cards at once. You will find that this is even faster, as pairs of a high and a low number cancel each other out and you can immediately move on to the next two cards.


There are some Apps for your smartphone that you can use to practise counting cards. To do this, search for "Card Counting" or "Blackjack" in the iTunes store or the Google Play shop.

Count cards online casino

Online casinos with their live blackjack tables with real dealers offer a perfect opportunity to practice card counting. However, here you should not hope for a big win. The online casinos use all eight decks of cards of which only 50% are dealt. Thus, you have too inaccurate information and rarely a real advantage with which you could justify a larger bet.

For practice, a online casino but the perfect place. With relatively low stakes and a realistic environment, you can count cards here as often and as long as you want.

If you:

  • make all decisions of the Basic Strategy perfectly
  • never lose the running count
  • always convert to the correct True Count
  • apply the correct deviations from the basic strategy depending on the index number
  • Adapt the correct use to the situation
  • are bored with the pace of the online casino

THEN you are ready for a real casino!

Is card counting illegal?

Card counting is NOT ILLEGAL!

When counting cards, you simply use all visible information to gain an advantage. It is therefore nothing more than mental arithmetic and abstract "thinking". In a democratic country, it should therefore be allowed to think and count cards accordingly.

However, since card counting is an advanced form of gambling, it is not welcomed in casinos. At least not if the players win a lot of money with it. Therefore, the casino can prohibit a player from counting cards.

Counting cards alone is not enough. You also have to implement the information gained from this by changing the way you play. This works by increasing the Use in good situations. The easiest way for casinos to protect themselves against card counters is therefore to ban betting increases. If the dealer or his pit boss gets wind that a player is gaining an advantage by counting cards and adjusting his bets accordingly, they can either ban the player from playing or forbid him to vary his bets. The player must then "flat bet". This means that every stake must be the same. This means that it is no longer possible to take advantage of higher stakes.

Card Counting Movie

The Film "21" from 2008 is about a group of students who win a lot of money by counting cards in Las Vegas. The film is based on a true story and the book "Bringing Down the House" by Ben Mezrich.

A young maths student from MIT in Boston comes into contact with the Gambling "Blackjack". The professor builds up a team of students who make weekend trips to Las Vegas to relieve the casinos of large sums of money.

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