Blackjack Card Counting

You don’t have to be Stephen Hawking to learn how to count cards in blackjack. All you really need to count cards is the ability to count up to plus or minus twelve or so by ones.


Professor Edward Thorp developed the first card counting systems in 1962, based on the principles of the mathematician Roger Baldwin. He determined that the card that has the most influence on the deck being in a favorable condition for the blackjack player was the five. When the deck is low in fives, the player has a higher advantage than if it’s sparse in any other card. Logic dictated that for a very simple card counting strategy; simply keep track of the abundance or lack of fives. This is the basis of Thorp’s “Five Count” system, which was later improved to include tens and renamed the “Ten Count” system.

Many different blackjack card counting systems have been developed since then. Typically, the more complex a system is, the better your advantage should you master it. However, the advantage difference between card counting systems is usually so small that ease of using the system becomes more important than gaining an additional advantage. This blackjack card counting course will be mainly limited to the discussion of the card counting system called the High/Low Point Count, or Plus Minus Point Count.

Other Counting Systems

The High/Low Point Count blackjack card counting system is taught here because it is effective and easy to learn. There are many other good card counting techniques out there. Two excellent systems are the Advanced Plus/Minus system and the Hi-Opt I system. The Advanced Plus/Minus is similar to the High/Low system but adds fractional values to certain cards as opposed to integer vales. The Hi-Opt I system is considered one of the most powerful card counting systems of all time.

What is the basis of card counting? The basic premise behind card counting in blackjack is that the player gains an advantage when a deck has a shortage of cards valued 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Conversely, the player is at a disadvantage, when a deck has a shortage of cards valued 9, 10, and Ace. If you can tell when the deck is rich in 9’s, 10’s, and Aces you have the ability to bet stronger knowing that the deck is now more in your favor. When you have a favorable deck you should bet more and alter your basic strategy play to account for the better odds.