Blackjack and Card Counting
Blackjack is one of the casino games in which the player has a certain level of control over the house edge. In Blackjack, the house edge isn’t overly large to begin with, although it’s much larger than what players can reduce it to by playing according to the recommendations formulated in basic blackjack strategy.
The bottom line is basically that casinos count on the player not to employ basic strategy, simply because basic strategy is about learning some charts by heart and frankly, only a small percent of casino and online casino gamblers are willing to go though that trouble. By heeding the basic strategy charts, players can reduce the house edge to around 1%. Back in the days, there used to be another reason for the popularity of the game in brick and mortar casinos all over the nation: the fact that through card counting, it was theoretically possible for players to turn the house edge around completely.
Despite what the pop culture has made it out to be, blackjack card counting is a relatively simple affair, although there are several variants of the basic method I’m about to show you which are quite a bit more intricate and efficient at the same time. The simplest card counting method is about assigning values of +1, 0 and -1 to certain card ranges.
The method is based on the fact that the more high cards (10, J,Q,K,A) remain in a deck, the better the player’s odds get, which he should exploit through more aggressive betting.
Let’s say we assign the value of +1 to cards from 2-7. 8 and 9 are 0 and the rest of the cards are -1. Be keeping a simple score adding/subtracting/doing neither, the player will be able to track whether or not the remaining deck becomes favorable odds-wise for him or not. Every time a lower card (like say a 5) leaves the deck, he adds one, every time a high card leaves the deck he subtracts one. The higher his score climbs in the “+” range, the more aggressive he should become with his bets.
This example is obviously the simplest way to count cards. There are other methods based on this one (in which players can introduce +2/-2 in addition to the above said values to further refine the result), or on other card counting ways which are much more efficient.
Now for the bad news: one can’t count cards in online blackjack. That’s impossible because the online casino RNG uses a fresh deck of cards for every single deal, which makes the whole card-counting concept obsolete. While in live casinos, dealing every single hand out of a fresh deck is much more difficult, there are extreme precautions taken and measures put into place to prevent players from gaining an edge which the casinos consider an unfair one.
While counting cards is not illegal per se, it is considered an offence by most casinos, and when caught, the player risks being booted from the establishment.
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