Card Counting Explained

Card Counting Explained

While Hollywood movies like Rain Man and 21 have ensured that most people have heard of card counting and will frequently cite this practice in reference to blackjack, few understand how this technique for beating the house actually works. Whilst Hollywood has created the impression that card counting is highly complex and requires exceptional intellectual abilities, card counting is actually fairly simple.

Who Invented Card Counting?

Many gamblers regard mathematician, Dr. Edward Thorp, as the man who popularised card counting. In 1962 Thorp published the seminal work ‘Beat the Dealer’, which introduced a number of advanced mathematical blackjack strategies to players, including card counting. A number of other professional gamblers and mathematicians have made further contributions to the art of card counting, including Stanford Wong, the inventor of ‘Wonging’, and Ken Uston, who popularised team play methods of card counting.

What is Card Counting?

Card counting is basically the practice of keeping track of the proportion of high to low value cards in a shoe during blackjack games. A shoe with a larger proportion of high value cards gives a mathematical edge to the player, whilst a shoe with a high proportion of low value cards favours the dealer. Players who count cards will attempt to keep track of the proportion of cards of high, medium and low value in a shoe. There are a number of different methods for doing this, however, all have in common the fact that the card counter will tend to raise bets when he or she has established that the deck holds a higher proportion of high cards.

Is Card Counting Complicated?

No. While many people are under the impression that card counting requires prodigious feats of intellect or memory, various systems have been developed which make card counting accessible to ordinary people. All that is required of card counters is the ability to maintain concentration throughout a shoe, and a good grasp of optimum blackjack strategy.

Does Card Counting Work?

Card counting creates a minuscule shift in advantage from the house towards the player. The house usually has a 0.5% advantage over a player using optimum strategy, however, card counting when combined with optimum blackjack strategy, creates a 1% advantage for the player over the house. Although a significant number of professional gamblers have made millions from card counting, it is important to realise that making money from this technique requires a sizable bankroll, patience and a long-term strategy. Furthermore, most casinos have implemented various counter-measures that limit gamblers’ opportunities to benefit from card counting.

Can Card Counting Work Online?

Unless online blackjack games make use of digital shoes, and therefore work through one or more decks of cards during the course of several hands, card counting is not possible while playing blackjack online. Online casino operators are aware of the threat card counting can pose to their profits and therefore ensure that virtual decks are shuffled before the start of each hand.

If you enjoyed this post you might want to check out these: