Card counting is a legal method in which players can skew the casino house edge in favor of the player. Many people assume that card counting is illegal, it is in fact legal however it is frowned on by the casinos (After all, the casino wants you to be stupid and give them your money).
Some people argue that card counting is actually good for the casino because many players either do it wrong or make mistakes which end up giving the casino an edge.
Unlike games like roulette or craps, where there is a fixed percentage outcome on every bet. Previous blackjack hands impact the odds of future blackjack hands. This is because cards are taken out of the deck and make it more or less likely that certain cards will be dealt next.
Experienced card counters keep a count of which cards have come out the deck. This allows them to increase their bet size when the odds are in the players favor and decrease the bet size when the odds are in the casinos favor.
Some blackjack card counters play in a team to avoid detection. This was fantastically depicted in the movie 21. In case you haven’t seen the movie, you have a variety of players making small bets and tracking the count. Then you have another player who plays as the high roller. When the count is large and in the players favor, the player tracking the count somehow signals the high roller. The high roller then comes over, places a few large bets and leaves when the count is no longer in the players favor. Playing in teams is a great way to avoid being spotted as a card counter.
The most famous and popular card counting system is the hi-low system. Cards of ten, jack, queen, king and aces give a value of -1. Cards of 7, 8 and 9 are considered neutral and have a value of 0. Finally low cards 2-6 are given a value of 1.
The premise of this system is that tens, jacks, queens and aces benefit the player the most. Therefore, when lots of low cards are removed from the deck (And the count subsequently goes up), this becomes a favorable situation for the player and not the dealer. On the flip side, when lots of high cards are removed from the deck and there is a negative count, this favors the dealer more.
Apart from the hi-low count system which is the most simple system to understand, there are other card counting system that provide a higher degree of accuracy and other systems that encourage players to get a side count of aces.
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