Blackjack has long been one of the most popular and iconic casino games, captivating players with its blend of skill, strategy, and excitement. While luck plays a role in the game, there is a technique that some players employ to gain an edge over the casino – card counting. Card counting is a strategy used to track the ratio of high to low-value cards remaining in the deck, allowing players to make more informed decisions and increase their chances of winning. In this article, we will delve into the secrets of card counting in blackjack, exploring its history, techniques, and the controversy surrounding this method in the world of casino gaming.

  1. Understanding the Basics of Blackjack

Before diving into the intricacies of card counting, it is essential to have a solid understanding of the game of blackjack itself. In blackjack, the objective is to achieve a hand with a value as close to 21 as possible without exceeding it. Players compete against the dealer, aiming to have a higher hand total than the dealer without going over 21, known as “busting.” The game involves a deck or multiple decks of cards, with each card assigned a specific value. Understanding the value of each card and the basic rules of blackjack lays the foundation for employing card counting strategies effectively.

  1. The History of Card Counting

Card counting in blackjack gained prominence in the 1960s with the publication of Edward O. Thorp’s book, “Beat the Dealer.” Thorp’s work presented a mathematical approach to blackjack, introducing the concept of card counting as a means to gain an advantage over the casino. His research and theories revolutionized the game, proving that by keeping track of the cards that have been played, players could adjust their betting and playing decisions accordingly.

  1. How Card Counting Works

At its core, card counting is a method of keeping track of the ratio of high to low-value cards remaining in the deck. High-value cards (such as tens, face cards, and aces) are favourable for the player, as they increase the chances of getting a blackjack or a winning hand. Low-value cards (such as twos, threes, and fours) are less advantageous, as they decrease the likelihood of achieving strong hands. By mentally assigning a value to each card that is dealt and keeping a running count, players can determine the composition of the remaining deck and adjust their betting and playing decisions accordingly.

  1. The High-Low Card Counting System

One of the most widely used card counting systems is the High-Low method. In this system, each card is assigned a value: +1 for low-value cards (2-6), 0 for neutral cards (7-9), and -1 for high-value cards (10, face cards, and aces). As the cards are dealt, players keep a running count by adding or subtracting the corresponding values. A high positive count indicates that there are more high-value cards remaining in the deck, favouring the player. Conversely, a negative or low count suggests that there are more low-value cards left, benefiting the dealer. By analyzing the count, players can adjust their bets and playing decisions accordingly to optimize their chances of winning.

  1. The Importance of True Count

To enhance the accuracy of card counting, players often convert the running count into a “true count.” The true count is calculated by dividing the running count by the number of decks remaining in the shoe. This adjustment accounts for the varying number of decks used in the game and provides a more precise estimation of the card composition. The true count enables players to make more informed decisions, such as adjusting their bets based on the favourable or unfavourable card distribution.

  1. The Legality and Casino Response

While card counting is not illegal, casinos frown upon its use and take measures to discourage or prevent players from employing this strategy. Casinos have the right to refuse service to players suspected of card counting or using any form of advantage play. To counter card counting, casinos employ several countermeasures, such as frequent shuffling, increasing the number of decks used, and implementing automatic shuffling machines. These measures make it more challenging for players to gain an edge through card counting.

  1. The Advancement of Online Gambling and Card Counting

With the rise of online gambling, card counting has faced new challenges. In virtual blackjack games, the cards are typically reshuffled after each hand, eliminating any advantage gained from card counting. Additionally, online casinos use random number generators (RNGs) to ensure fairness and prevent predictability, making card counting strategies ineffective. However, card counting techniques can still be employed in live dealer blackjack games, where the cards are dealt from a physical shoe in real-time. Players must adapt their card counting strategies accordingly when playing online or in live dealer settings.


Card counting in blackjack is a fascinating strategy that has captivated players and sparked both admiration and controversy in the casino gaming industry. While the practice of card counting is not illegal, casinos take measures to deter players from using this technique. It requires a solid understanding of the game, practice, and discipline to employ card counting effectively. As the world of gambling evolves, card counting continues to adapt to new challenges, with online gambling and advanced technology reshaping its application. While card counting may not guarantee consistent wins, it remains an intriguing aspect of the blackjack experience and a testament to the blend of skill and strategy found in casino games.

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