Card Counting in Blackjack

Depending on with whom one speaks, card counting can be very different things. For players, it is a way to increase their odds of winning against the house. On the part of the casino, it is generally regarded as a type of cheating and is often used as a reason to ban players.

Card counting involves tracking the cards which have been dealt to ascertain the advantage to the player or the house. Counting systems can be more or less accurate depending on many variables such as the number of decks in play, new decks being introduced or existing cards being shuffled. Card counting, however, is one of the winning secrets of the most successful gamblers.

The most commonly-used and simple form of card counting requires neither a degree in mathematics or an unusual gift for arithmetic to understand. Each card is assigned a numerical value and the disposition of the deck toward the player's advantage is decided via that number.

Card counting in its most basic form is simple. A deck that is freshly shuffled and from which no cards have been dealt has a value of zero. There is no advantage toward the player or house at this point. As the cards are dealt, the value of the deck changes. The cards spanning from 2-6 are assigned a value of +1, the cards with a value of 10 and the Aces are assigned a value of -1 and the cards 7, 8 and 9 are assigned a value of zero. Each card is "counted" as they're dealt and their values added to determine the overall value of the deck. Higher numbers are in the player's favor.

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Card counting systems are implemented in different ways by their practitioners. For instance, "wonging" is a term, named for the player with which it is most associated, wherein a player increases their odds by watching the table, counting the deck and then entering the game when the odds have become advantageous to them. Very skilled players may also use multiple systems at the same time, making use of a "side count" that allows them to better calculate the odds.

Card counting is not illegal. To say so, in essence, would be to say that an internal process of mathematics is contrary to the law. It is very much frowned upon by casinos, however, and in the majority of cases where a player is found out to be a card counter, they are banned from the premises. Sometimes, casinos will simply send in undercover operatives to disrupt the counters, such as by talking to them while the dealing is underway. Winning a great deal at Blackjack, in any regard, is certain to get one looked at closely by security.

Some casinos train their own employees to count cards. When the dealer knows the disposition of the deck, a player who sits down at just the right time and starts to win big stands out a something to be regarded with a great deal of suspicion.