How Do You Count Cards?

Card counting is a strategy often used in Blackjack to give the player an advantage over the dealer. Most casinos bar players from using card counting apps and devices. Casinos also watch for players they think might be counting cards.

Counting cards in your head is not illegal though some land-based casinos take measures to try to prevent it. Continuous shuffling machines keep shuffling cards after each hand to make it harder to count cards. Some casinos even resorted to violence in the past to deter card counters. Today, casino security may still ask someone suspected of counting cards to leave the table and play another game.

Steps in Counting Cards

Counting cards in your head requires organization and memorization skills. You'll need to remember that in one deck, you have four cards, one of each suit. As counting cards is commonly used in Blackjack, it simplifies things thanks to multiple cards having a value of 10.

You have four each of the cards valued 2 to 10. You have four Aces. You also have four Jacks, Queens, and Kings, which are all valued at 10 points. Therefore, in one deck, you'll be tracking:

  • Cards with a value of 2 – 4x
  • Cards with a value of 3 – 4x
  • Cards with a value of 4 – 4x
  • Cards with a value of 5 – 4x
  • Cards with a value of 6 – 4x
  • Cards with a value of 7 – 4x
  • Cards with a value of 8 – 4x
  • Cards with a value of 9 – 4x
  • Cards with a value of 10 – 16x
  • Ace – 4x

If the Blackjack game uses two decks, double those counts. You want to pay the closest attention to the 16 cards with the value of 10 and the Aces since they form Blackjacks together. If the deck is half gone and only four cards with the value of 10 have appeared in the game, you know the odds of getting a 10 is higher. Raise your bets accordingly.

Online Casinos Shuffle After Each Hand

Online casinos usually shuffle the deck after each hand. When a round of Blackjack is over, the cards are returned to the deck and it's shuffled. This makes it pointless to spend your time counting cards.

While online casinos shuffle after every hand, most land-based casinos do the same. The only time counting cards may work to your advantage is if you find a charity game or play for fun at someone's house. When the deck isn't shuffled between hands, you can count cards and win at Blackjack.