Card Counting in Blackjack

Blackjack Card Counting In the game of blackjack, many experienced players use card counting strategies that theoretically allow you to reduce the house’s winning margins, obtaining a constant advantage on the house, especially if you consider a long playing session. Card counting in blackjack is not appreciated by real casinos, but it is not an “illegal” practice since it is simply a matter of memorizing the cards released up to a given moment, or of discovering their trend. In this article we will introduce you to the two most popular blackjack card counting strategies, with which you can also practice one or more decks of cards at home.

Hi-Lo Counting Strategy

Hi-Lo counting is certainly the most famous and used strategy, also for its simplicity. This system requires that values between -1 and +1 are associated with the different cards in the deck. More precisely, it is necessary to count:

+1 cards from 2 to 6 (2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
0 cards from 7 to 9 (7, 8, 9)
-1 cards from 10 to Ace (10, J, Q, K, A)
These scores are counted all over again each time the dealer shuffles the cards, starting with the first card dealt. For example, if during a game the dealer shuffles the cards, all scores calculated up to that point will be reset. The first card dealt after shuffling will be the first that we will count. For example, if it is a 3, we will count +1. Next we will add +1, zero or -1 depending on the cards that come out.

The goal of this system is to keep a balance that gives us the opportunity to understand if it will be more advisable for us to ask for the hit or to declare the stand. For example, a very high balance will denote the presence of many low cards and therefore we will have to be more careful about the possible release of high cards.

To this consideration is added the calculation of the True Count, or the real score. True Count is obtained by dividing the score obtained by the number of decks released up to a given moment. For example, if the balance equals 18, three decks are thought to have come out at a given point in the game, the true count will be 18/3 = 6.

KO strategy

The KO card counting strategy involves two differences compared to the Hi-Lo method. The first difference is that 7 is counted +1 instead of zero. The remaining cards, however, are counted as in the system already seen. The value +1 associated with 7 however leads to an imbalance in the count in favor of low cards (+1) and therefore in this strategy the count starts from a negative number (instead of from zero as in Hi-Lo). To determine the number to start from, use the formula:

(Number of decks – 1) x (-4).

For example, if there are 4 decks, the count will start from (4 decks – 1) x (-4) = -12. The count will start from -12.

In the KO strategy and in general in the “unbalanced” ones, there is no need to perform the “conversion” in the True Count.