# HOW TO COUNT CARDS IN BLACKJACK

1. Assign a tag of (+1) to every 2- 6 ranked cards and a tag of (–1) to every 10-A.
2. Start your count after the shuffle and add the tags to each card that is pulled from the deck.
3. When the running count is positive after any round, the undealt cards are richer in large cards; you should increase your bet size.
4. When the running count is negative after any round, the undealt cards are richer in small cards; you should decrease your bet size.
5. You will bet more money on positive counts, and less money on negative counts.

## INTERACTIVE CARD COUNTING TRAINER INSTRUCTIONS

The Interactive Card Counting Trainer is a software tool that will teach you how to count cards accurately. No experience is required to use the tool, just the desire to want to learn a mathematically proven technique that will give you the advantage over the casino when you play blackjack.

There is the misconception that card counters memorize every card that is played. As you will soon see, that is not true. In fact, card counting is a strategy that anyone with average intelligence can learn. And you can get started with the help of this trainer.

## WHAT IS CARD COUNTING?

Card counting is a technique that lets blackjack players know when the advantage shifts in their favor. When this occurs, card counters will increase their bets. When the advantage shifts in favor of the dealer, the counter will make a smaller bet or no bet at all by not playing. Counters can gain a positive advantage over the casino by varying bets in this manner.

It’s been mathematically proven that high-value cards (i.e., tens, picture cards, and aces) benefit the player more than the dealer, while the low-value cards (i.e., twos through sixes) are more beneficial to the dealer. The remaining cards – sevens, eights, and nines – are essentially neutral. On average, these cards don’t help the player or dealer very much.

## HOW DOES CARD COUNTING WORK?

After the dealer shuffles the cards, there is an equal number of high and low cards in the deck(s). Depending on which cards are dealt in the early rounds, the ratio of high to low cards in the remaining undealt cards most likely will change.

For example, if more low than high cards were played in the early rounds, then the remaining undealt cards must have a greater concentration of high versus low cards. When the latter occurs, card counters will bet more because they have a better chance of getting a blackjack (with a bonus 3-to-2 payout) and winning a double down.

In addition, if dealers show a low card, they will break more frequently when hitting their hand. If instead the undealt cards contain a higher concentration of low cards, this benefits dealers; by casino rules, dealers must hit their 12 through 16 hands, and the excess concentration of low cards will increase their chances of getting a pat 17 through 21 hand while decreasing their chances of busting.

To know when the undealt cards are richer in high cards, favoring the player, or low cards, favoring the dealer, card counters assign a tag to every card. In the popular Hi-Lo card counting system used in this trainer, the tags of each card are as follows:

Card

Tag

2, 3, 4, 5, 6

+1

7, 8, 9

0

10, J, Q, K, A

-1

Card counters must watch every card that is played and arithmetically add the tags for each card. The count after the shuffle always starts at zero. For example, let’s assume the first player had a three, six, and 10 for 19 and stands. The counter would add one, for the three card, add another one, for the six card, and subtract one, for the 10 card. At this point, his or her running count is “plus-one” (i.e., +1 + (+1) + (‒1) = +1).

The counter continues to add the tags of each card in every hand including the dealer’s hand until the end of the round. If the running count is positive, depending on how many cards have been played, the counter may have the edge on the next round and he or she will bet more.

The higher the positive count, and the more cards that have been played, the greater his or her edge, and the more the player will bet. If instead the count is negative, the counter knows there’s no edge, and he or she should bet small in the next round. The counter continues this process of counting the tags of each card from one round to the next, adjusting his or her bets depending on whether the running count is positive or negative.

## HOW TO USE INTERACTIVE TRAINER

The goal of the trainer is to teach you how to recognize the tags of each card and to train you for mentally adding the tags to keep an accurate running count. The trainer will flash two to six cards on your computer screen. You’ll look at them, add and subtract the tags of the cards, and then carry over your count to the next group of cards that will appear on your screen. At the end of the drill, you’ll input the value of the running count; the trainer will tell you if you’re right or wrong, if the latter, it will show you the actual running count.

## TO START THE DRILL:

1. Select whether you want to practice with one deck of cards or six decks of cards.

2. Using the sliding scale, select the speed (i.e., the number of rounds per minute) with which the cards will appear on the screen for you to count. Moving the diamond on the scale to the right will increase the speed, and moving it to the left will slow it.

3. Click on the drop-down menu below “Ask me for the running count every” to select the number of seconds after which you want the drill to stop and ask you for the count. Choose from 10 seconds to 30 seconds, in five-second increments. There is also the “Never” option: meaning the drill will continue until all the cards in the deck(s) are played.

4. When the drill stops at the point you selected, the trainer will ask you, “What is the Current Running Count?” Type in your running count and click the “Submit” button. For example, if you think the running is plus-five, type in “+5” and click “Submit.” If it’s minus-six, type in “-6” and then click “Submit.” After you type in the running count, the trainer will tell you whether you were right or wrong, if the latter, it will show you the actual running count. At the end of the drill, it will also compute your counting accuracy. Your goal is 100% accuracy.

5. At any point during the drill, you can click the “Pause” button to stop the trainer. This will give you more time if you need it to count the cards. Clicking on the “Pause” button again will restart the trainer.

## TIPS FOR USING THE TRAINER

• When you first begin to practice card counting, use the “Single Deck” mode, set the “Speed” to “Slow,” and select 10 or 15 seconds as the amount of time you’ll have to stop the drill and key in your count. Your first goal is to get a consistently accurate running count (i.e., speed isn’t the first objective).

• When you can achieve 100% accuracy in your count at the slow speed, gradually increase the speed of the drill. Don’t be surprised if you make mistakes in your count once you increase the speed with which the cards will appear and disappear on your computer screen. After consistently achieving 100% accuracy at a slightly higher speed level, keep incrementally increasing the speed and practicing until you again achieve 100% accuracy. Repeat this process until you can maintain 100% accuracy in your count at the fastest speed on the slide. You have the option to practice card counting using the six-deck mode as well, which you should do if you are planning to play and count in a six-deck game.

• As your accuracy improves, begin to cancel a high card (minus-one) with a low card (plus-one) in each round so that only the remaining cards are counted and added to your running count. This will increase your speed since you don’t have to “count” every high and low card.

### MORE HELP

For more details on how to count cards – including the history of card counting, how to bet based on the count, how to deviate from the basic playing strategy based on the count, how to compute the true count in multiple-deck games, how to disguise your card-counting skills, and much more – consult the Ultimate Blackjack Guide

Written by Henry Tamburin Ph.D.

By
Henry Tamburin Ph.D