How to Count Cards in Blackjack Guide – Part 2

This is part 2 of a 3 part guide for counting cards in blackjack online. See the other parts of the guide below:

Part I | Part II | Part III

What can I do to take advantage of the current situation?

Since we know that with a higher count, we are more likely to get blackjacks and win hands, we should bet more on the next hand. It’s as easy as that. How much to bet depends on how high the count is, how many cards/decks are left in the shoe and your bankroll.

The higher the count is, the more favorable the situation is. To the extreme, if there were ONLY face cards and aces left in the deck, you would have a huge advantage due to the fact that the player earns more for winning a blackjack than the dealer does.

Fewer cards left in the deck or shoe means that the current Running Count has a greater effect. For this reason we distinguish between the “Running Count” (RC) and what is called the “True Count” (TC). The True Count is simply the Running Count divided by the approximate number of decks left in the shoe.

For example: we have a Running Count (RC) of +5, but there are still 5 decks (260 cards) left to play in the shoe. This means that for every 52 cards, on average there is only 1 more ten/ace than there is small cards. +5 RC / 5 decks remaining = +1 TC. But if we have a RC of +5 and there are only 2 decks left, then the TC is now +2.5, a much larger advantage.

Your bankroll is also a deciding factor in how much to bet. If you had unlimited funds, you would want to bet the max any time you had even a slight advantage. But because the advantages are small even at the best of times, you want to be more cautious with your bets to avoid going broke.

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How much should I bet based on the count?

Usually bets are measured in units based on your minimum bet. A typical betting pattern for a small to modest bankroll would be:

True Count Bet
Any Negative 1 unit
Neutral (0) 1 or 2 units
+1 2 to 3 units
+2 4 units
+3 5 units
+4 6 units

For players with larger bankrolls and who are more able to deal with big swings and variance, the number of units bet during positive true counts could be greatly increased.

If Card Counting is so easy, why doesn’t everyone do it?

There are a number of reasons. Not many people truly know about counting. Most people that do know something about it only do because of movies or media attention, thus they think you need a super memory or insane math skills for it to work.

Even if they do know and understand counting, there is no guarantee that they would be able to employ the tactics successfully. Most people don’t even play basic strategy very well, even with the help of a basic strategy card.

We’ve all see people make obvious mistakes like hitting on 19 or doubling down with a possible bust hand. To the average person, Blackjack is a fun gambling game. Trying to turn it into a profitable game requires much patience and work… Precisely what they don’t want to be doing during their vacation or while relaxing at home on their computer!

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Isn’t card counting illegal?

Contrary to popular belief, and what casinos would like you to believe, card counting is perfectly legal. By law, table games must show the minimum and maximum bet size that is allowed. There is no law against changing your bet when you feel like betting more or less, so long as it is within the range they have posted.

The casino might think that card counting is cheating, but it is not in the traditional sense of the word. Cheating would be activities such as marking cards or using an accomplice to sneak a peak at the dealer’s hole card or relay information that should not have. All card counting does is enable you to decide when to bet more or less, based on the cards that are in plain view of you, and everyone else.

What if I get caught?

All the casino can legally do to any of their patrons is request that they maintain a constant/unchanging bet size, tell them that they are no longer welcome playing blackjack (or any other particular game), or bar them from their establishment. None of these things have to do with cheating. These are simply the rights that a casino has while running their establishment. They can choose who is and is not allowed to play their games.

The best thing to do if you are approached by a casino employee and accused of cheating or card counting is to deny everything. Leave quickly, but not so fast as to confirm their suspicions. An offhand comment like “well I wasn’t doing well here anyways, might try my luck across the street” to put some doubt in their mind could also be helpful. Chances are if you don’t make a scene and just leave, they won’t even remember you next time.

Do not show them your identification if they ask for it. If they ask you to come with them out of a public area, do not go. Even if you were “counting cards”, you have not done anything illegal and are under no obligation to obey them. Simply leave their establishment.

While casino backroom beatings and shakedowns are mostly something that only happens in the Hollywood movies these days, you still must be cautious. It is not unheard of for a security guard to overstep his bounds if given the chance. Casinos have even been sued for mistreatment of patrons. Your best bet is simply to avoid any potentially dangerous situation.

All of the above scenarios focus on counting cards in a B&M setting. But you can count cards online and avoid the stress of being caught, which we go into detail in part 3.

This guide continues with part 3 – Blackjack Card Counting Online Part 3

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