# 4+ BEST Ways to Count Cards in Blackjack [Complete Guide]

## What Is Card Counting in Blackjack?

Card counting is a casino card game strategy used to predict when the next hand is likely to give a probable advantage to the player.

It’s based on the fact that each deck of cards has a “memory” – meaning that certain cards are more likely to appear at specific times during the game.

When there are more high cards left in the deck, the player has a higher chance of getting a blackjack (21).

## Example of Card Counting

Here’s an example of how card counting works: let’s say there are 52 cards in a deck and four of them are kings.

The odds of being dealt a king are 4 out of 52, or 1 in 13. But if three kings have already been dealt, then there’s only one king left in the deck and the odds become 1 in 17.

The player would want to bet more money when the odds are in their favor – in this case, when there’s only one king left.

## How to Count Cards in Blackjack

Card counting is a skill that takes practice to perfect. But here’s a basic overview of how it’s done:

1. Assign a value to each card. Low cards (2-6) are worth +1, high cards (10-A) are worth -1, and neutral cards (7-9) are worth 0.

2. Start at 0 and add or subtract the assigned values as the cards are dealt. The goal is to keep a “running count” of how many high or low cards are left in the deck.

3. Use this information to adjust your betting. When there are more high cards left in the deck, you should bet more money. And when there are more low cards, you should bet less.

It’s important to note that card counting is legal, but casinos don’t like it because it gives players an advantage. So if you’re caught counting cards, you may be asked to leave the casino.

### Hi-Lo system

The most common card counting system is called the “Hi-Lo” system.

As we mentioned earlier, each card is assigned a value: low cards are worth +1, high cards are worth -1, and neutral cards are worth 0.

To use the Hi-Lo system, you start at 0 and add or subtract the assigned values as the cards are dealt. The goal is to keep a “running count” of how many high or low cards are left in the deck.

Here’s an example: let’s say you’re using a six-deck shoe (the dealer has six decks of cards that they’ll be dealing from). And let’s say that two low cards have already been dealt.

The running count would be +2. If the next card is a high card, you’d subtract 1 from the running count. So if the next card is an ace, the running count would become +1.

If the next card is another low card, you’d add 1 to the running count. So if the next card is a 4, the running count would become +2.

You would continue counting cards and adjusting your bet accordingly – increasing it when there are more high cards left in the deck, and decreasing it when there are more low cards.

The Hi-Lo system is a balanced system, which means that the total number of high cards and low cards will always be equal. So if the running count is +5, that means there are five more low cards left in the deck than high cards.

The advantage of using a balanced system like the Hi-Lo system is that it’s easier to keep track of the running count.

But there are also unbalanced systems, like the Zen count, which we’ll discuss next.

### Zen Count

The Zen count is an unbalanced system, which means that the total number of high cards and low cards will not always be equal.

So if the running count is +5, that doesn’t necessarily mean there are five more low cards left in the deck than high cards – it could be more or less than that.

The advantage of using an unbalanced system like the Zen count is that it’s more accurate than a balanced system like the Hi-Lo system.

But the downside is that it’s more complicated and harder to keep track of the running count.

To use the Zen count, you start by assigning values to each card: low cards (2-6) are worth +1, high cards (10-A) are worth -2, and neutral cards (7-9) are worth 0.

Then you start at 0 and add or subtract the assigned values as the cards are dealt. The goal is to keep a “running count” of how many high or low cards are left in the deck.

Here’s an example: let’s say you’re using a six-deck shoe (the dealer has six decks of cards that they’ll be dealing from). And let’s say that two low cards have already been dealt.

The running count would be +2. If the next card is a high card, you’d subtract 2 from the running count. So if the next card is an ace, the running count would become 0.

If the next card is another low card, you’d add 1 to the running count. So if the next card is a 4, the running count would become +1.

You would continue counting cards and adjusting your bet accordingly – increasing it when there are more high cards left in the deck, and decreasing it when there are more low cards.

### Wong Halves

The Wong Halves system is similar to the Zen count, but it’s even more accurate.

To use the Wong Halves system, you start by assigning values to each card: low cards (2-6) are worth +1, high cards (10-A) are worth -1, and neutral cards (7-9) are worth 0.5.

Then you start at 0 and add or subtract the assigned values as the cards are dealt. The goal is to keep a “running count” of how many high or low cards are left in the deck.

Here’s an example: let’s say you’re using a six-deck shoe (the dealer has six decks of cards that they’ll be dealing from). And let’s say that two low cards have already been dealt.

The running count would be +2. If the next card is a high card, you’d subtract 1 from the running count. So if the next card is an ace, the running count would become +1.

If the next card is another low card, you’d add 0.5 to the running count. So if the next card is a 4, the running count would become +1.5.

You would continue counting cards and adjusting your bet accordingly – increasing it when there are more high cards left in the deck, and decreasing it when there are more low cards.

### Omega II system

The Omega II system is a more advanced card counting system that can give you a more accurate idea of when the deck is favorable.

To use the Omega II system, you start by assigning values to each card: low cards (2-6) are worth 1, high cards (10-A) are worth -1, and neutral cards (7-9) are worth 0. Then you start at 0 and add or subtract the assigned values as the cards are dealt.

The goal is to keep a “running count” of how many high or low cards are left in the deck. But in addition to keeping a running count, you also keep track of certain “groups” of cards.

There are four groups:

Group 1: 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10

Group 2: 4, 5, 6

Group 3: Ace

Group 4: King, Queen, Jack

For each group, you keep a separate count. So if two low cards have already been dealt, the running count would be +2. But if the next card is a 7 (which is in Group 1), you would also add 1 to the Group 1 count. The Group 1 count would now be +1.

If the next card is a 4 (which is in Group 2), you would subtract 1 from the Group 2 count. The Group 2 count would now be -1.

You would continue counting cards and adjusting your bets accordingly – increasing them when the running count and/or the group counts are high, and decreasing them when the running count and/or the group counts are low.

## When Is Card Counting Not Possible?

Automatic reshuffle makes card counting unviable. Some games also use continuous shuffling machines (CSMs), which shuffle the cards after every hand. This makes card counting impossible.

## Do Card Counters Always Win?

No – card counters still have to deal with the house edge.

And even if they have an advantage, it’s usually only 1-2%.

So while card counting can give you a slight edge, it’s no guarantee of success.

## What’s the Best Way to Count Cards?

The best way to count cards is to practice in a low-pressure environment, like online blackjack (though online blackjack often has automatic reshuffle).

## How Many Card Counting Systems Are There?

There are many different card counting systems out there. The most popular ones are the Hi-Lo system and the Red 7 system.

But there are also more complicated systems, like the Omega II system and the Wong Halves system.

The best way to find a system that works for you is to experiment with different ones and see which one gives you the best results.

## What Do You Do If You’re Card Counting and You Lose Track of the Count in Blackjack?

If you’re card counting and you lose track of the count, don’t worry – just start over. The most important thing is to stay calm and focused.

Card counting is a difficult skill to master, and even the best card counters make mistakes sometimes.

The key is to keep practicing and perfecting your technique.

## What Are Some Card Counting Myths?

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about card counting.

Perhaps the most common one is that it’s illegal. But as we’ve already mentioned, card counting is legal – it’s just not liked by casinos.

Another myth is that card counters are all geniuses with photographic memories. But you don’t need to be a genius to count cards – you just need to be able to do basic math.

Finally, some people think that card counting is too difficult and not worth the effort. But with a little practice, anyone can learn how to count cards.

And it’s definitely worth the effort, because it can give you a big advantage over the casino where possible.

## What Are Some Ways Casinos Detect Card Counting?

When card counters are spreading their bets in a big way, it can set off alarm bells in a dealer’s head.

For example, if someone is betting \$10 one hand, then \$500 the next, then \$20, then back up to \$500, and so on, it usually reflects “favorable” and “unfavorable” counts that causes them to bet like this.

Spreading bets by more than 5x or 10x is an easy way to tip off card counting.

Other ways casinos can detect card counting is if the player takes insurance too often, or if they deviate from basic strategy in a way that’s not consistent with card counting (for example, hitting 16 against a 10 when the count is negative).

## What Are Some of the Most Famous Card Counters?

Some of the most famous card counters include Edward Thorp (the “father of card counting”), Ken Uston, and Zhenli Ye.

Thorp developed the first card counting system (Hi-Lo) in the 1960s, and his book “Beat the Dealer” popularized it.

Uston was a successful casino gambler who wrote several books on blackjack and card counting, including “Million Dollar Blackjack.”

Ye was a member of the MIT Blackjack Team, which used card counting to win millions of dollars from casinos in the 1980s and 1990s.

## Do Casinos Have the Right to Ban Card Counters?

Yes – casinos have the right to ban card counters (or any other players they don’t want to play).

But if they do ban you, they have to return your buy-in and any chips you still have.

They also can’t bar you from the property – they can only ask you to leave.

## What Are Some Other Casino Cheating Methods?

Card counting is just one of many methods that people have used to cheat at casinos.

Other methods include collusion (working with other players to cheat), marking cards, using devices to help you count or predict the outcome of a hand, and even stealing chips from the casino.

Of course, all of these methods are illegal, and if you get caught doing them, you will be banned from the casino and even worse.

So if you’re thinking about cheating at a casino, think twice – it’s just not worth the risk.

Card counting is a legal way to get an edge over the casino in blackjack.

But it’s not easy – it takes practice and concentration to do it well. And even then, it’s no guarantee of success.

## Final Word – How to Count Cards in Blackjack

By following these tips, you can improve your chances of winning at blackjack – though remember, the house always has an edge.

So don’t expect to win every time you play. Just have fun and enjoy the game!