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Roadmap to 5 Concepts on Counting Cards in Live Blackjack

Posted on June 6, 2018 | 1:07 pm

If you are new to casino table games, the first thing you should know is basic strategies. Now, with many live dealer games, these strategies will boil down to maintaining the bankroll. With live blackjack, however, there are highly popular as well as efficient approaches to help you learn how to count cards.

  • Is it illegal? No.
  • Do you need to be a mathematician to learn it? No.
  • Should you spend some time mastering the skill prior to playing real money? Definitely.

Counting Cards in Live Dealer Blackjack: Why Is It Important?

In a nutshell, counting cards is a relatively simple and a working strategy to keep track of the game. This allows you to understand whether the casino or the player is in an advantageous position and to bet higher or lower, accordingly to the situation. This is a strategy that pays off during a certain number of rounds so don’t expect it to bring you decet wins if you are only in the game for a couple of rounds.

Contrary to the common misconception, counting cards has nothing to do with memorizing them. All you will need to do is pay attention during the game and master the running count plus turn to the true count from time to time – both are comprehensive math models. Also, mind that the strategy only works until the decks remain unshuffled. This is why, many players say, counting cards is rarely useful in online casinos where the dealers shuffle decks regularly.


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The Hi-Lo Concept

So, there are 3 groups of cards per deck.

  • High cards are Ace though 10. These are advantageous to players if counted properly. They also have a negative count of -1 assigned to them.
  • Low cards are 2 through 6. These serve the casino’s interests and have a positive count of +1 assigned to them.
  • Cards 7 through 9 have a value of 0 assigned to them. These are neutral cards that serve neither the dealer nor the player.

Running Count

Now, keeping in mind the value of the 3 groups of cards, once the game begins, you will keep the running count for all the cards dealt out of the deck. The dealer lays out 8 in front of you – that’s a count of 0. The next card dealt with the player sitting next to you is Ace – that’s a count of -1. The third player receives a 5 – the running count comes back to 0. The running track should continue through rounds until the dealer goes through all the decks in the game and shuffles.

As the running count changes, switching from positive to negative, you will immediately see whether it is you or the casino that is in an advantageous position. The count is positive? This means that many low-value cards are out and high-value cards remain in the deck. As we already know, these are advantageous to the player.

On the contrary, if the running count is negative, this means that many cards of high-value are out of the game and the casino is leading the game. This is a signal to keep the bets low.

True Count

Running count helps keep track of the game, but it is barely helpful without the true count – this latter shows whether you should bet more and win or hold back your horses and lay low.

What is the true count? It is the current running count divided by the number of decks remaining to be dealt. Let’s say your running count is 15, and there are still 5 decks to be dealt. Divide 15 by 5 and you get 3 – a true count advantageous to the player. If the true count is negative, you will most likely not gain the edge over a casino.

Other Concepts for Counting Cards in Live Dealer Blackjack

The system described above is known as the basic strategy and it is imperative to understand it prior to moving to other counting cards variations.

Kiss Concept

Should you choose the Kiss Concept, you will need to count picture cards and those numbered 3 through 6. It begins with a positive count and eventually allows players to gain the edge over a casino. Many players enjoy it because it allows skipping through the true count.

Red 7

This strategy is often recommended to newbies to live dealer blackjack. It is the running count that starts at -2 per each new deck. Cards 2 through 6 and red 7 are assigned a value of 1. Ace through 10 cards maintain the basic running count value of -1. Cards 8 through 9 and black 7 are assigned a value of 0. Once the running count is positive, the strategy recommends betting more.

KO System

Also known as the Knock-Out system, KO’s been circulating the blackjack community for more than 2 decades. In this system, cards 2 through 7 have a value of 1. 8 and 9 maintain their neutral 0 status, and -1 is assigned to the high cards. With most cards having a positive value, the running count has an unbalance. Also, it starts at 0. Whenever you reach a running count of 2 or more, you are considered to be in an advantageous position. Once you’ve run through a deck, the overall end count is +4.

Silver Fox Concept

In this system, a value of -1 is assigned to all picture cards and 9. The rest of the cards maintain a positive value of 1. The count per hand is kept progressively, which makes it very easy for beginners to keep their heads above water in blackjack.

Wonging in Live Dealer Blackjack

Many casinos will inform players that there is no wonging allowed at the live dealer blackjack table. Wonging is a term and a tactic introduced by the strategy of Stanford Wong.

the player should enter the game only if the card count is positive. Each card has a value of -1 through +1.5 assigned to it. Wonging allows a player to immediately implement an aggressive strategy and to blindside the dealer. Plus, from the very beginning, a player knows that he or she does not bet on a negative deck and does not need to, therefore, hold back on the bets.

Important Things to Know About Counting Cards in Live Blackjack

  • Unlike any other casino game, where every round has its own beginning and end that does not impact further action, in blackjack, what happened in the past, can therefore give a player enough information about what will happen in the round further. This is a factor that many players use to their advantage.
  • Mastering basic strategy is what every blackjack newbie must do if he or she wants to be successful in the game. Now, experienced players warn that it may be very confusing at first but the options are actually a very simple and comprehensive strategy. The best way to master it is to practice at least two hours a day for two to three weeks until your card counting skill becomes automatic.
  • There is a concept of the Meaningful Pair in the running count. To make this running count easier, look at pairs per hand rather than counting card by card. For instance, if you or your neighbor were dealt a high and a low card that automatically leads to 0. You may simply disregard the pair and move on to the next neighbor’s hand.
  • A follow-up to the Meaningful Pair tactic is this next tip. When the round begins, don’t jump-start to counting from the first card. Wait until the dealer disburses the first cards to all of the hands in the game and start count from the second next card to is dealt with the hand. Immediately start counting in pairs.
  • Master the basic strategy first and then move on to choosing whether you are comfortable with either of the five alternative strategies that we’ve suggested below.
  • The Hi-Lo strategy always ends at zero.
  • Card-counting is not an illegal tactic unless a player uses any external devices to keep track or there are certain agreements between a casino and a VIP high-roller player. If such an agreement is in place, the casino will have its eyes on the player. How does the house know you are counting cards? Well, the security staff is basically retired and experienced card counters who will know right away whether any strategy is in place. Also, even for the regular players counting cards the advice is – be prepared that after a certain sum is reached, the casino will ask you to stop counting cards and may also proceed to stricter measures. This is not a universal rule, but there have been precedents.

Is It Possible to Count Cards in Online Casino Blackjack?

Many players have come to the conclusion that neither of the systems for counting cards is ineffective in live dealer blackjack in online casinos.

Despite the fact that this type of virtual gambling is similar to the games in land-based casinos, it has 2 major differences. The most significant one is deck penetration. In many live dealer games, cards are shuffled either after every round or in the middle of the game. Neither of these is an outcome suitable for the card counter.

Plus, the number of hands that you can play per hour is more than half the number smaller of the hands that you can play in a land-based venue. This fact makes it nearly impossible for the player to earn barely any cash on the card counting strategy.

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