How to Count Cards in Blackjack?

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  • Written by Anette
  • Posted on January 13, 2021
Home News & Articles How to Count Cards in Blackjack?

Blackjack, or twenty-one, is a popular casino game where the goal is to beat the dealer by getting your cards close to 21. And while the dealer has to adhere to a set of rules, you, don’t have to. You’re free to use any strategy you want.

Just like in any other card game, blackjack comes with specific risks, as you can’t know which cards will come up during the game. However, there are ways to alleviate the risk. If you wish to do that, you’ll need to be good with numbers.

The best strategy you can use to mitigate the risk is to count cards. You don’t have to be a genius to make the most out of it. You don’t even have to memorize the cards that have been played. It’s numbers that rule blackjack, despite the house almost always having an edge. In this article, we’ll give our best to show you how to take advantage of those numbers.

Counting Cards at Blackjack

Many believe that counting cards has to do with actually memorizing the cards. But we have good news for all those with a terrible memory. In practice, counting cards means to utilize a system that helps players keep track of the ratio of low to high cards.

We can break the process into four individual steps.

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Assigning a Value to Every Card

This is the most common way of counting cards. And it’s a straightforward one. Whenever a card is dealt, you’ll have to either add one, subtract one, or do nothing. The value of each card will determine your next move.

Here are the card values:

  • 2-6 – Add one
  • 10-Ace – Subtract one
  • 7-9 – Do nothing

The Running Count

Whenever a card is dealt, players will update their running count. They’ll either add or subtract every card, depending on its value.

You will be doing this for each card from the shoe until the cards are reshuffled. Your betting will adjust to the running count. If the count goes up, so does the player’s advantage. However, if the count goes negative, the advantage will shift.

Counting Per Deck

Counting cards was much easier when casinos used only one deck. But using multiple decks doesn’t mean you won’t be able to use this strategy. You can still use the running count, although you have to adjust your information a bit. That’s called count per deck or a true count.

Blackjack in action
Learn more about how to count cards in Blackjack.

It’s completely different to have a +5 running count with one deck and with six decks. With six decks remaining, there is less than one additional card per deck, which means the player doesn’t have the advantage. The number of extra high cards is not as crucial as high cards’ ratio to low cards.

If only one deck remains, we know there are five extra tens and Aces in play, meaning the player has the advantage. That’s how counting per deck is so handy.

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Change Your Wagers

The running count and counting per deck will inform you when the house edge flips in your favor. It’s crucial to use that piece of information, or you won’t benefit from counting cards. As true count starts to increase, it’s vital to raise your bets.

The rule here is quite simple: bet big when the cards favor you, and small when the count is negative. Using the wrong betting strategy can have a negative impact on your bankroll.

When it comes to counting cards, it’s all about being quick and precise. You don’t have to be a math genius, but you do need to stay focused. The whole process is not that complex and involves only addition and subtraction. Couple that with a clear head under pressure, and you’ve got a winning combination. Feel ready to check it out? Head over to

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