Blackjack Card Counting

When you are playing Blackjack in a casino, the house always holds the edge over the players at the table. In order to limit the house edge in Blackjack, many players will use card counting techniques.

A basic Blackjack card counting strategy will only use a single level count, which simply means that the count will never be increased or decreased by more then one. When first learning how to count cards, it is imperative that you use a basic system so that you can develop the technique. It is not very difficult to count cards using basic systems, but once you begin using more advanced systems – it becomes a lot more difficult to keep a count.

The three most popular basic Blackjack card counting systems that are used today include the KO Count, Hi-Lo Count and the Hi-Opt 1 Count. Below is a chart, which will show you the value of each card for each of the systems so that you can learn them.

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Blackjack Card Counting Using the KO Count Method

  • Cards 2 through 7 = +1
  • Cards 8 through 9 = 0
  • Cards 10 through Aces = -1

Blackjack Card Counting Utilizing the Hi-Lo Count Technique

  • Cards 2 through 6 = +1
  • Cards 7 through 9 = 0
  • Cards 10 through Aces = -1

Blackjack Card Counting With the Hi-Opt 1 Count

  • Cards 3 through 6 = +1
  • Cards 7 through 9 + 2’s & Aces = 0
  • Cards 10 through King = -1

As you can see these counts do not differ very much at all so once you learn one of them it won’t take much of an adjustment to learn the others. Most new card counters will start out with the Hi-Lo Count because it is a balanced count, which means that after counting through a complete deck of cards your count would be zero. The KO Count is an example of an unbalanced count and it can be slightly harder to keep track of then the balanced count.

In theory, a shoe of cards is rich in high cards when a count is high. Thus, a player counting cards in blackjack would believe the deck is full of bust cards. In marginal situations, a blackjack card counter will not take a hit when the count is high. By comparison, when the count is low, the logic of Blackjack card counting dictates the shoe is rich in low cards. As a result, a player may hit marginal situations with less worry of busting.

Contrary to popular belief, Blackjack card counting is not illegal. In fact, while there is no law against actual card counting in blackjack, there are laws against utilizing a device of any sort to assist in card counting. With that in mind, a casino may rightfully ban any player for card counting while playing blackjack. In order to avoid being banned from the casinos in your area, you need to make sure you are not obvious with your card counting techniques. Also keep in mind that using any sort of device to help you count cards in Blackjack is illegal and you will be punished by the law if you are caught doing this.