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Card Counting in Blackjack

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Casino games like blackjack have certain enigma to themselves. The players look at it as a puzzle and come up with tricks and techniques to ace the game. This is one of the reasons why professional poker players have such a huge fan following. Out of all the tricks and techniques, card counting in blackjack is one of the more mathematically inclined techniques that has proven to be a successful method if mastered.

What is card counting in blackjack?

Card counting is a strategy used by players while playing games against the house like blackjack. In this strategy, the cards are divided into high value and low-value cards. The high-value cards consist of Aces, Kings, Queens, and jacks while the low-value cards are 3s 4s 5s and 6s.

The high-value cards benefit the players while the low-value cards benefit the house. Card counting is a technique in which the player notes the value discarded cards and anticipates the value of forthcoming cards.

How does the system of counting in Blackjack works?

The system is based on assigning numbers or value to the cards like positive, negative, or Zero.  When low-value cards are dealt then the percentage or probability of high-value cards remaining increases which improves the chance of winning.

The advantage of card counting is the Effect of Removal or EOR.

So if the said cards are removed how will the advantage of the house change?

A positive change for the house means the player is at risk of losing while a negative change for the house means the player’s winning probability increases.

Basic terminologies in card counting

To understand card counting in detail, it is important to be aware of basic terminologies associated with the blackjack game.

Insurance

When you are playing the blackjack and the dealer has an ace on the card that is face up then you can call for an insurance which is like a side bet. This is a bet on the face-down card of the dealer proposing it is a high-value card making it a blackjack.

If your judgment comes out right then the dealer will have to pay 2:1 amount of the wager. Some casinos opt to pay you upright while some casinos will make your wait till the end of the game.

Blackjack

This is the situation when the dealer as well as players get more blackjacks. In such a case, the player gets a better deal of 3:2 while the dealer gets nothing.

Doubling

This is the condition when the player wants to bet double the wager in the hope of getting a ten. A player does this in an attempt to get closer to the 21 mark and defeat the house.

Surrender

This option is only available on the first decision of hand. When the dealer checks for blackjack and the player immediately surrenders then the house takes half the wager and returns half to the player who becomes a non-participant of that game.

Splits

When a player gets two cards that have the same value then he/she gets an option of splitting it into two hands. Both these hands are considered separate in the game hence the player has to place two wagers. The wins or losses would be treated individually for both hands.

To perform a Split the player keeps the second card outside the betting box along with the wager and makes a v sign by the hand signaling the spit.

Standing

This is an option where the player does not want to take any more cards. Hence it is called a stand. The signal to activate this option is sliding the card under the chips and waving hand horizontally

Hit

This is the option when the player wants to take more cards. The signal to activate this option is by scraping the card against the table or by tapping with the finger.

Back counting

This another type of counting in which a person enters into the blackjack table in an ongoing game to count the cards. The back counting is also called “Wonging” and the person entering the blackjack is called “Wong in” which generally happens when the player is at an advantage.

The bets increase as the player advantage improves while the bets are lowered when the player advantage reduces. In some cases, the person might stay till the end of the game while some may opt-out when they see there is no player advantage left.

Back counting has its own set of advantages. First, the player need not play on every hand they see. So they can play only when they have a statistical advantage.

There are also some disadvantages to back counting. The players playing the game in the first place might get irritated with the one coming in the middle of the game. Some even believe that such disturbance breaks the flow of the cards resulting in losses. Also when a player jumps in and out of the game, the casino can suspect him to be a card counter and ban the person from coming back to the casino.

Group Counting

As the name suggests, in this type of counting a group of players work together to count the cards. The players sitting at the table are called “Spotters” who play with a minimum wager and keep a count of cards. The moment they feel the advantage is high, they give out subtle signals after which the Big player “Wongs in” the game usually wagering a high amount. The big player also “Wongs out” of the game in case the advantage drops down and goes to check other similar tables with spotters.

The advantage of group counting is that the team can count on several tables at once while back counting is done by just one player on a single table.

To conclude, card counting is one of the tricks that might look easy on paper but requires a lot of mental effort to remember cards and its value while playing the casino game. It is purely a skill that is acquired through extensive practice and dedication.

Card Counting FAQs

Is card counting legal?

In the United States of America and Britain, card counting is not illegal unless you are using an electronic card counting device which is illegal and prohibited.

Do casinos allow card counting players?

There are no official rules about banning a card counting player in any casino but some casinos do take disciplinary actions like shuffling the entire deck in the middle of a game or asking the player to leave the game.

How much time does it take to learn card counting?

It completely depends on your memorization skills. If you have a very good memory then you can learn card counting in weeks else it can even take months.

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