If you’ve played and understood a basic card counting system, such as the Hi/Lo count, you may choose to move to a more advanced counting system to gain greater rewards. Simple counting methods may reverse the house edge, but more advanced methods will increase your profit and reduce the risk of losing.
How does card counting work?
Card counting is a technique used in Blackjack and other card games to reduce, or even reverse, the house edge. In a game where cards are not shuffled regularly – like Blackjack players can often keep track of which cards have been dealt and change their strategy accordingly. Most of the time card counters will wait until many low cards have been dealt leaving a large proportion of high cards; as these situations represent the best betting opportunities for the player.
Card counting does not work in online casinos, because the virtual deck is shuffled after each hand. This means that there is no advantage to tracking the dealt cards as they will be replaced into the deck immediately after a hand finishes.
When using the Hi/Lo count each card has a value of +1,-1 or 0 to make calculations easier. With advanced strategies like the Zen Count, Red 7 and Omega II cards can take a value from -2 to +2, meaning more mental calculation is required to keep track of the count.
More advanced counting methods also adapt strategy to the count. As the composition of the deck changes, so does the optimal strategy in each situation. Simple card counting methods encourage players to use basic strategy at all times but this leads to some mistakes being made. Suppose a card counter had a starting hand of 12 but knew the deck had many 10 value cards left. Although basic strategy might say to hit in this situation he probably wouldn’t; knowing that a 10 would bust his hand.
Insurance in Advanced Blackjack Strategy
Blackjack players are normally advised to never take insurance – the odds aren’t favourable and it’s more profitable to take the risk. However, if the proportion of 10 value cards in the deck is greater than 1/3 then insurance does become a profitable bet.
An important thing to look out for when choosing a Blackjack table to count at is the ratio between the minimum and maximum bet at the table; sometimes called the spread. Card counters will generally bet the minimum at a table until the count is favourable, and then increase the bet size rapidly until they reach the maximum. The larger the table maximum, the more advantage you stand to gain from effective counting.
Bear in mind that card counting only gives the player a small advantage. Losses can still happen on a regular basis so it is important to manage your money carefully to avoid going bust. It is inadvisable to invest more than 5%-10% of your total bankroll in a single session and, if you experience a bad run, reduce your bet sizes or play at lower limits to conserve and rebuild your money.