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Cards counting: Blackjack strategy

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“If it were some golden strategy that I could use to win at Blackjack, I would become a millionaire for sure”. I believe this sort of thoughts have come to each card gambler’s mind at least once. We always want to find the shortest way to treasure chest which is only available to us. But does this kind of way really exist?

Unfortunately, as it is practically proven – there is no way to win at any game with 100% chance. But some strategies are quite promising and even approved by experienced gamblers. Cards counting is basically used in Blackjack and it has a long story and even has left a footprint in the culture after it was explained in the movie “21”. So let’s learn more about this strategy to know if it is worth trying while playing Blackjack nowadays.

Casino’s counter-measures

Casinos actively oppose these techniques below and protect themselves from losing money by applying some limits and measures. It may be bet limits, shuffle machines or multiple decks used during one game.

It’s also worthless to count cards in virtual casinos because the deck is refreshed after each draw. But in live casinos that still has a chance to work because the dealer is real and it is almost the same as the real casino.

So, we have brought a light to all the famous techniques and tried to explain everything to both beginners and experienced players, now it depends on you: what strategy will you choose and what is the best result you will get?

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Idea and techniques

There are several ideas that create a basis for multiple systems that currently exist. Let’s take a look at the basic once starting with the simplest.

1. Ace-Five system

As it comes from its name, you need to count only Aces and Fives. You start counting from zero, each Five on the playing table increases the score by 1 while Aces decrease the score by 1 respectively. The higher the score you have – the bigger the chance to win. It is easy and clear for beginners and doesn’t require a lot of skill and experience to learn. But it also has a drawback that comes from its simplicity: it doesn’t really give you a huge advantage in the game. There are also some variations of this technique but they are all based on changing the bet amount.

2. Plus-minus technique

This is the technique that was used in the mentioned movie “21”. It’s also pretty easy to master. You don’t need to have some complicated system or device to help you, just stay focused and react quickly. A player splits the cards into three categories – minor (2 to 6), neutral (7 to 9) and major (10 to Ace). Minors have +1 score, neutrals have 0 and majors have -1 score to count. The system is widely used and allows to choose the optimal strategy according to the situation. But there are also several cons for this strategy: it requires to stay extremely focused and it is not mathematically perfect so it might have some inaccuracies that may lead to the negative result.

3. Hi-opt technique

It is a pretty unique technique to master and it uses only specific cards in counting process. A player should only count 3 to 6 (+1 score) and 10 (-1 score), other cards are ignored. It’s very simple to use and fits the careful players the most but it is completely useless when playing agressively.

4. Halves

It is a modernized variation of “Plus-minus” technique. It requires more skills and experience for the right counting. Cards in that technique have different scores: 2 gives +1, 3 and 4 give +2, 5 gives +3, 6 gives +2, 7 gives +1, 8 is neutral – zero score, 9 gives -1 and 10 to Ace give -2. This technique is very precise but also complicated and not beginner friendly. Also, each minor mistake leads to a wrong counting and negative results.

5. Thorp’s mathematical technique

This one is the most complicated. Each card has certain value and mathematical expectation score. Jacks, Queens and Kings are ignored while other cards have the next score changing rates:

  • 2: +5
  • 3: +6
  • 4: +8
  • 5: +11
  • 6: +6
  • 7: +4
  • 8: 0
  • 9: -3
  • 10: +7
  • Ace: -9

As it ignores Jacks to Kings, it has some inaccuracies, but it’s still extremely precise and way too complicated to count everything.

Actually, basic techniques are really easy to master and only a few weeks of practice will give you the desirable result. Just remember to stay focused and don’t get distracted.


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