The absolute best way for winning at black jack is to count cards. The phrase ‘counting cards’ has some mystery behind it, but the concept behind card counting is really quite simple – it involves keeping track of what cards have been played out of the deck, which lets you estimate what chances you have of getting the cards you need to beat the dealer.
There are quite a few ways to count cards, and majority of them don’t actually involve keeping track of every single card in the deck, which most people can’t possibly do, especially when the game involves multiple decks. Instead, card counting systems like Hi-Lo and ace tracking work by keeping track of an average of high and low cards, letting you get a general idea of how many high cards are left, so you know how likely you are to get what you need.
Most of the card counting systems found on these pages are variations on this general theme.
Understanding Blackjack Card Counting Systems
Here are some common terms and concepts used by popular black jack card counting strategy systems.
The level of a card counting strategy refers to the number of values given to cards. The most basic systems are Level One, which assign each card just one level of values (+1 or – 1). More complex systems have two levels (+1, +2, -1, -2) or more. Each additional level makes the system more accurate, but it also makes makes it progressively harder to use.
A side count is an additional count kept on top of the total points count. The most common example of a side count is keeping track of the number of aces that have been used. Card counting systems with a blackjack side count are more accurate, but are also harder to use.
The running count is the total number of points that a given card system assigns to a deck before being dealt. After each hand, this total is updated. The running count is an essential part of black jack card counting strategies.
The true count is calculated by dividing the running count by the number of decks remaining in the shoe. This value is useful when playing games that are dealt from multiple decks, because it effects how players should react to the count.
From here, you can learn more about how to count cards in blackjack by reading through the Card Counting 101 guide. The rest of the pages in this section go into detail about how to use the most popular and most effective card counting systems out there.
Generally these systems are very similar, with each one working as a variation on the same theme of keeping track of which cards have been played. The main counting systems not covered in this guide are: Red Seven, Renzey KISS, Revere Point Count, Canfield Expert, Silver Fox, Basic and Advanced Omega and level 3 systems like Wong Halves, Halves with Aces and the Uston Advanced Count.
If you want to learn more about the masters who developed these black jack card counting techniques, read about the Blackjack Hall of Fame.