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How to Win at Blackjack

Posted August 15, 2006 - By Dana Leahy

DISCLAIMER: Card counting while playing Blackjack is totally and utterly illegal. Casinos will kick you out if you’re caught. There have been a lot of people who have been part of card counting teams who have gone to jail and ruined their lives.

Having said all that, here’s a little primer on how to count cards at the blackjack table.

The idea of counting cards may seem a little daunting at first, but in reality, it’s a lot easier than you think.

However, it’s not a rookie move. You need to feel pretty comfortable playing the game before you can move on to making it more complicated, so make sure you know the rules.

After you become comfortable with the game itself and put in dues at low wager tables, you'll be ready to start really playing.

The main premise behind counting cards is to bet more efficiently. By counting cards, you know when the odds are more in your favor. The technique is simple: instead of keeping track of every card that comes out of the shoe (the dealer's deck or decks), you assign face cards and number cards different values and then keep a running tally in your head.

So, let's say at a table with two people playing, one face card comes out and three number cards come out. In your head, you would assign each number card (regardless of what the actual number value on the card was) a +1. Because there were three number cards, you'd have a +3 in your head. Each face card would get a -1 value. At the end of the hand, the shoe would currently have a count of +2.

You want the shoe to have a positive value, because that means that there are more face cards left for the deal to pull than number cards. Everytime a number card comes out, that means that a face card didn't, so you add one to your tally. Everytime a face card comes out, you subtract one.

Once the count in your head becomes overwhelmingly positive, so that you know there are more face cards in the deck than number cards, you increase your bet. This may not always work, but at least you know that you have better odds of getting face cards at this point than at any other.

Trying to keep count in your head at a busy table can be very difficult, so it'll take some practice. Dealers purposely deal fast in order to try and throw off any count you might be trying to keep. If you consentrate however, after a few games, you'll get the hang of it.

Regardless if you find yoruself being able to keep an acurate count or not, the most important tip for the blackjack table is trust your gut. Whether you know it or not, your mind has been keeping subconscious track of what's been coming out, so if you feel like there are more face cards left, there probably are. Don't let the dealer talk you into anything you don't want to do, because, afterall, they do work for the casino.

Blackjack is ulitmately a game of chance and calculated risk. Try and work the odds to your advantage as best you can and remember to always follow your instinct. Hopefully it'll pay off in real American dollars that you can spend at the strip club.

Tags: AOTS Classic

Comments are Closed

  • BraneTear

    Yeah the reason the card counting teams get messed up is because they have a group that keeps throwin out small bets then gives a signal for a "high roller" to come in when the count is high. That is what is considered cheating. But yeah, if your winning, casinos don't like you, so they call it cheating to make their move seem right. Most card games REQUIRE you to keep some kind of count in order to make a good decision about yor hand.

    Posted: August 15, 2006 9:59 PM
  • dvinson

    No, it's pretty illegal, because technically it's considered cheating, but only when it's part of an elaborate team. If you're on your own, you'd have to be mighty good in order for a casino to catch on and kick you out.

    Posted: August 15, 2006 6:45 PM
  • byung_min_sa

    I think you guys got the disclaimer wrong. It's NOT illegal to count cards. The casino CAN kick you out for any reason they can think of but the courts have said that counting cards is not illegal because that's the equivalent of saying ur not allowed to think during the game.

    Posted: August 15, 2006 6:28 PM