Many people think that blackjack is a pure game of luck, and that may be true, especially if you’re a casual player who’s merely playing for fun. But the most seasoned gamblers and blackjack players know that there’s skill involved in the game, which can help you win more consistently and be a become a master blackjack counter.
There’s also a way to give yourself an even greater edge than veteran blackjack players, but it’s not entirely legal. You can stack up your wins at the blackjack table by learning the skill of card counting.
What is card counting?
Card counting is a method to increase your chances of winning at the blackjack table. Essentially, when you card count, you keep track of all the cards that you see on the table and you use this information to ascertain the likelihood of whether or not the remaining cards will favour you.
With this, you can adjust your moves at the blackjack table accordingly. When you find that you have an advantage, you can increase your bets and double down more often, and in cases where you’re disadvantaged, you can choose to play more conservatively.
While card counting is indeed a tedious process that not everyone can learn overnight, it’s something that will pay off immensely in the future. Furthermore, just like any other skill, it’s something that can become second nature to you over time.
Steps to become a master blackjack counter
Know the rules inside out
The first step to becoming a master blackjack counter and becoming a winning blackjack player is to know the rules. Card counting is a complex subject, and it is impossible to gain a full understanding of it if you don’t know the rules of blackjack.
Before you bring down the house with your card counting skills, you should first make sure that you are always one hundred percent aware of what’s happening whenever you’re at the blackjack table. The skill of card counting also requires you to have the ability to mute out the noise around you, given that casinos are often lively places with distractions all around. You wouldn’t want to lose track of your count because you’re trying to understand what the dealer is doing. You should know the rules inside and out and all of your basic actions at the table must be automatic.
Master basic blackjack strategy
After you learn the rules, familiarize yourself first with fundamental blackjack strategy that doesn’t involve card-counting. There are multiple resources online where you can find charts that will guide you at the tables, and tell you when to perform particular acts, such when to stand, when to double down, when to hit, and when to simply surrender.
You should consult these guides religiously especially if you’re new to the game, as it is essential that you memorize these moves and that everything becomes habitual before you move on to more complex strategies such as card counting. These basic strategies will be the foundation of your card counting mastery.
Learn the Ace-Five System
The Ace-Five counting system is widely regarded as the best card counting system for beginners, as it is a system that’s fairly easy to understand and implement even for those who have minimal blackjack experience.
Basically, as the name implies, you only track the aces and the fives that are dealt, and assign a value of -1 to aces and +1 to fives. If the count is positive, it means that you’re at an advantage and that you should bet higher. However, the ace-five is not and should not be the end-all system for you, as its ease means that it also has its drawbacks.
Learn more advanced counting systems
To truly become a master counter, once you’ve got the hang of the Ace-Five system, you should move on to more advanced counting systems such as Hi-Lo, Halves, and Zen. There are multiple resources to be found online on these different systems, and it is advised that you take some time to learn each one of them, before finding the best one for you and adopting it as your own.
Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
Card counting is a learned skill, and just like any other learned skill, it takes repetition to master it. You can’t expect to be a card counting master by merely watching blackjack games or reading every book you can find.
While studying the game and card counting strategy will help you tremendously, you can’t develop if you don’t put what you learn into practice. You should regularly hit the tables to put your skills to the test until you’re sure that you can win. Of course, it’s advised to play at the low stakes first before moving up.
Don’t get caught
It’s not necessarily illegal to count cards, but it is generally frowned upon by casinos since it makes them lose their edge. When card counting, especially if you’re still practicing, you should always aim to be as discreet as possible and play just like the other players. Let your mind do all the work.