Counting Cards

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in the world (both in online and land-based casinos) and has become the profitable target of many players, professional and amateur, looking to win big. It’s a game of probability that also requires skill, concentration and discipline. Here is The Guide to Counting Cards for beginners.


Colloquially known as ‘21’, Blackjack is a game between players and the dealer. The player’s objective is to collect a hand which is as close as possible to 21 without exceeding it. The aim is to collect a higher total point than the dealer but not exceed 21. If the player exceeds that number, they’re “busted” or in other words – lose. The players and the dealer take turns until all cards have been dealt.

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The game can include several players, each of them competing against the dealer. Two to eight standard decks, containing 52 cards in each are used. Once the player has been dealt a two-card hand, he is faced with the option of getting “hit” again and can request an additional card. If the player’s hand is equal or less than 21, and the dealer “busts”, the result is a win for the player. Cards are dealt until 17 or more points are reached. If the dealer and the player both have an equal score, no loss is recorded.

The best card combination consists of an Ace (which can be count as either 1 or an 11) and a ten-point card (Queen, Jack, King and a 10). This is known as “Blackjack” or a “Natural 21” which automatically earns a win for the player, unless the dealer has also collected a Blackjack. If both have a hand of 21, the player receives their bet back.


Blackjack is a game of mathematical probabilities, however, using and following a strategy, can greatly increase a player’s chances of winning against the house.

Basic Blackjack Strategy

Learning and practicing basic blackjack strategy is essential in this game and it’s even advisable to memorize it. This minimizes loss rates and at least partially eliminates the advantage the house has over less skilled players.


The basic strategy may vary, depending on the number of decks that are used in the game. It is calculated on the basis of the cards a player is dealt, as well as of the card the dealer is shown. The basic strategy is presented in the form of a chart that indicates when players should stand, hit, double or split a pair, depending on the hand of the dealer but memorizing the scheme is the best idea to ensure smooth and fluid gameplay.

Skilled and experienced blackjack players don’t use the basic strategy chart. To a greater extent, experienced players rely on training, memory, and other forms of what is termed ‘advantage’ play. The most common ‘advantage play’, used by advanced players is card counting but it requires time and concentration to master.

Note, if you’re considering counting cards online, many online casinos utilize continuous shuffle machines (CSM). Those make card counting ineffective. However, those online casinos with Live Dealer Blackjack games don’t use a “CSM,” they will usually (but not always) have the dealer shuffle in the middle of the shoe.

We are not saying that card counting online is futile. If anything, you should be counting each hand you are dealt when playing online. It can help sharpen your skills which can potentially lead to increased winnings at a Live Dealer Casino like those available at, KarambaJackpot City, Royal Vegas, Ruby Fortune, 888 Casino, and All Slots Casino.


Card Counting can also help promote more disciplined betting as you will begin with a fresh count on each new hand. Consequently, the chances of irrational betting decreases. If you focus on the count and a basic strategy, it will help keep you in check and on track to use your bankroll in the wisest way possible.

Basic Card Counting Strategies – Stick with the High-Lo System

There are a large number of card counting strategies. Some are easier than others. For those players just beginning their journey, you will potentially want to choose one of the simpler systems. Just like learning any new game or sport, start simple. The more skilled you eventually become at card counting, the easier it will be for you to work your way up to the more advanced strategies. Most importantly, when beginning (or anytime for that matter), don’t go chasing your losses.

Players new to card counting will want to start out with the High-Lo System before moving on. The beauty of the High-Lo System is that it the most accurate of the learner systems that also include Red Seven, KISS and Knock Out Blackjack.

The High-Lo system is a running count technique whereby every card is assigned a specific value. The system is used to distinguish when the ratio of high value and low value cards in the Blackjack decks are unbalanced.

High value cards like tens and aces will increase the chance of Blackjacks being dealt, and also hands totaling to 20. A deck containing a majority of high value cards is the most profitable environment for the player, as it significantly increases the chance of the dealer going bust. In other situations, where the majority of the remaining cards in the deck are low value cards, (i.e. cards 2-6), the dealer will have a substantial edge over the player.

That the dealer must draw on hard hands (12 through 16) will, in a situation where a lot of low-value cards are remaining in the deck, reduce the chances of the dealer going bust when drawing another card. If there are a lot of high-value cards (tens and aces) in the deck, the probability of the dealer going bust is significantly greater.

High-Lo is the most accurate of all counting systems as it is a balanced system (i.e. if you’ve counted all the cards, the count should be zero). If the count is negative there will be more low cards in the deck and if it’s positive, more higher cards remain unplayed.

Have fun mastering the High-Lo System and look forward to winning plenty of extra dollars along the way before stepping it up to the more complex counting systems.

Good luck and Great Gaming!