The Basics of Card Counting Strategy: How to Beat Blackjack

Card counting strategy remains being the main one of blackjack casino game for over 50 years already. It has been described in many blackjack books, and it is used successfully by many blackjack gamblers. Do not think that you should be a mathematical genius or professor in order to understand, learn and remember this technique: card counting is not as difficult as it sounds and seems to be.


Card counting strategy had been created and developed by Roger Baldwin and his assistants in 1950s: the book was written by this person in order to explain this technique to all gamblers. Anyway, the book Playing Blackjack to Win which saw the light in 1957 was not able to explain the principle of card counting for average gamblers.

That is why the father of card counting technique is considered to be Edward Thorp which published his book Beat the Dealer in 1962 and explained it to everyone! Afterwards, many famous blackjack players, such as Al Francesco, Ken Uston, the MIT team and others, successfully used card counting for beating blackjack. Ken Uston was the one, actually, who proved the fact card counting was not a cheating method.

How to count

You should not remember all cards which were taken from a shoe and try to understand which cards are left there. The main thing is to understand the basic principle of blackjack:

Low cards are good for a dealer, big cards are good for a player!

So, each card of a deck has its own value according to card counting: + 1, 0 and -1.

  • 2's - 6's are counted as + 1 because they increase the chances of big cards' presence in a shoe.
  • 7's - 9's are counted as 0 and they are neutral.
  • 10's - Aces are counted as -1.

So, everything a player should do is to add or subtract 1 point each time when a card is dealt from a shoe; s/he should not keep in mind all cards which had been dealt before.

The bigger number you have as a result - the bigger your chances are for having big cards from a shoe.

Counting systems

Card counting technique is not alone: there are several counting systems can be found which count cards a little bit differently; some of them are more difficult, other ones - very easy. But each of them will definitely find its admirer. At the same time, card counting may be rarely applied in online casinos.

KO count

Card 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A

Value +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 0 0 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1

Hi-Lo count

Card 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A

Value +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 0 0 0 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1

Hi-Opt 1

Card 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A

Value 0 +1 +1 +1 +1 0 0 0 -1 -1 -1 -1 0

Hi-Opt 2

Card 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A

Value +1 +1 +2 +2 +1 +1 0 0 -2 -2 -2 -2 0

To know more about card counting strategy - click here.

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