Card Counting Advice for Novices

Simple tips and advice for any beginner looking at blackjack card counting. We discuss some of the history of card counting and simple card counting methods to get started with.

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Card Counting Advice

Blackjack is a challenging game that, unlike other casino games, does not operate on pure random chance. To be successful at blackjack requires focus, skill, and determination. The practice of card counting can also help you gain an advantage in the game. Card counting in blackjack has been around for awhile. Card counting is not illegal but casinos definitely frown on it. Doing it can get a player banned from blackjack tables or even from a casino if a player is caught counting cards. So counting cards at blackjack has sort of become a game within a game that you play with the casino. Casinos have a lot of people watching what goes on at the tables and they know just about every trick in the book. If a player is going to try to count cards at a blackjack table, then they had better be careful and know what they are doing.

Some professional players claim that you don’t have to be a mathematical genius to count cards. Anyone can do it if they practice enough at it. And it does take practice. For anyone who is just starting out and interested, here is some card counting advice for novices.

Famous Card Counters

First, a little history on card counting. There are a few famous card counters in blackjack history and the media. Edward R Thorp is considered the founder of card counting. He discovered the principles of card counting which he published in 1962 in a book called Beat the Dealer. This book is credited for starting the blackjack revolution and because of the book, the casinos were forced to take action and ban all card counters from the blackjack tables.

Another famous card counter was the MIT Blackjack team formed by Bill Kaplan. This was a team of student graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University that operated in casinos from 1979 to the late 1990’s. The MIT team was one of the first card counting teams whose goal was to take the house for as much as possible. At one point the team had over 80 members and operated in several casinos simultaneously.

A third card counter was a fictional character made famous by the movie Rain Man. In the movie, the character of Raymond, played by Dustin Hoffman, is an autistic savant who has a talent for counting. Raymond’s selfish brother, played by Tom Cruise, realizes that Raymond’s ability could be used in Las Vegas as a card counter. The two go to Vegas and Raymond ends up winning a load of money for his brother. The movie is significant because it brought an increase in novice players interested in card counting.

Why Does Card Counting Work?

Here is a bit of advice for card counting for novices. The reason that blackjack is different from other casino games is that the house edge is not fixed. The odds of a player getting a natural blackjack are entirely dependent on the cards that have already been dealt versus the cards remaining in the deck. If an Ace is dealt on the first round then the odds of drawing another Ace have suddenly dropped. In blackjack, the chances of a player winning a hand depend on the mix of the cards that are still in the deck. If the mix of cards remaining in the deck contains high value cards, then the odds are favorable for the player. If the deck contains a large number of ten cards and Aces then it increases a player’s chance of drawing a hand that is 17 or higher or getting a natural blackjack. The odds of the dealer going bust will also increase. In this instance, the player is getting paid 3 to 2 odds for a natural blackjack. This is the reason why card counters will suddenly raise their bets when they think the deck has a lot of high value cards.

However, another piece of advice for card counting for novices is that if the cards that are still in the deck are low value cards, then the odds are going to favor the dealer. Card counters usually lower their bets when the card count still in the deck is low value. When the deck is rich in low cards it less likely that the dealer will bust when he draws a card.

Card Counting Advice

There are many different methods to card counting, and some are more complicated than others. If you are a beginner, then a good bit of card counting advice for novices would be to keep it simple. A simple system can be just as effective. Many places in Las Vegas and Atlantic City have trumped card counters by reshuffling their decks often and using a large number of decks in their blackjack shoe.

There are numerous casinos that use auto shufflers with six to eight decks and the discard stack in the shuffler is replaced after only 50 or so cards have been gone through.

In a standard blackjack game the player gains an advantage when the deck is short on cards valued 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. When there is a shortage of 9s, 10s and Aces, then the player is going to be at a disadvantage. By using this general theory, it translates roughly into a system that you bet less when you are at a disadvantage and bet more when you are at an advantage. Below are some more bits of advice for the novice card counter.

Player doubles are more successful in decks which are high in ten cards and Aces, when the player will be betting more.

Player splits are more successful in decks high in ten cards and Aces because they will usually be against weak dealer cards. In high counts, when the counter bets more, the dealer will bust more often when the player splits.

Insurance is a valuable option to the player. If the remaining cards are rich in tens, insurance becomes a good bet.

The most important thing to remember about card counting is that even though it gives you a slight edge over the house, it is no sure-fire way to win big every time. Also, if you are counting cards and you bet extremely high every single time the cards are going to come up in your favor, then the dealer will become suspicious and notify the casino’s pit boss. If you want to successfully count cards at blackjack, you should play slowly, make small bets and only slightly increase them when you think the odds are in your favor. Small consistent wins are less likely to attract casino attention than consistent big wins.

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