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You’ve seen gamblers bringing down the house in movies, so how hard can card counting really be? Using this method to try and gain an advantage over a casino is rather tricky, and with the types of checks in place at online casinos, counting cards is almost impossible. Yet, there are a few strategies you can learn to try and improve your winning chances.
Getting any type of movement in a game’s house edge is critical to success, especially when we’re talking about online blackjack. As a game that sees you go head-to-head with the house, you want to give yourself a fighting chance, and the primary way to do that is to play according to a strategy, including card counting.
Many blackjack players approach the game with at least a basic understanding of counting cards, but for new players, it can seem like a daunting task. With so many cards in play, you need a good memory to recall sequences and a working knowledge of probabilities and mathematics.
In land-based casinos, card counting can work, but it’s a lot more difficult when you play online card games. Casinos have mechanisms in place that make it rather difficult, including Random Number Generators. But playing Live Casino card games might work with some strategies.
On the bright side, there are a few ways you can learn card counting strategies to improve your game and, hopefully, improve the house edge in your favour.
What Is Card Counting
Counting cards is a maths-based strategy mostly used in blackjack (and some poker variants) to figure out whether or not the next hand will be to your advantage or to the dealer’s.
The whole aim of counting cards is to keep count of the high and low-value cards in an effort to minimise the house edge.
Since casino card counting allows you the chance to get an idea of the composition of the remaining cards that have not yet been dealt, you can aim to make better decisions and minimise your losses.
There’s not a jurisdiction in Asia, or the world, that we know of where counting cards is illegal. After all, how can it be illegal to think about the game you’re playing? That’s hardly cheating.
That said, it doesn’t mean that online casinos don’t reserve the right to kick you out if they catch you.
How It Works
The process of card counting in blackjack is a strategic process whereby you keep a running count. The basic strategy involves assigning a positive, negative and zero value to every card.
The point values you assign to the cards must correlate to each card’s EOR – Effect of Removal. This is the estimated effect of removing a certain card from the game and how it could affect the house edge.
When a card of a particular value is dealt, you adjust the count by way of the card’s counting value. Therefore, low cards increase the percentage of high cards that remain in the set, and as a result increase the count, too.
High cards decrease the count for the opposite reason. For instance, in the Hi-Lo card counting strategy, the values 7 to 9 are assigned a 0 value, so they don’t affect the count. But 1 is added for cards dealt with values between 2 and 6, or 1 is subtracted for cards dealt with a King, Queen, Jack, Ace or 10.
Armed with the information you get by counting cards, you can better understand when to bet conservatively or when to go big. Overall, having more low-numbered cards in a deck isn’t good, since you’re unlikely to get a blackjack on the first two cards. The dealer is also more likely to bust.
Hi-Lo is just one example of counting cards in online casino games. In the next section, we cover some of the most common strategies players of various levels like to use.
Yes, but casinos do implement a number of measures to prevent the practice, like using multiple decks of cards and Random Number Generators.
Yes, it can. Keep in mind that many online casinos use software that shuffles the card after every hand, which makes counting cards almost impossible.
Yes, as long as the casino doesn’t catch you. But you’re not going to be prosecuted for trying to predict the outcome of your games.
You need to get to grips with the different strategies and how to assign values to the cards. Then, keep track of the count based on the cards that are dealt. We recommend trying games in demo mode to practice.
Typically, increase your bet when the running count is positive and you know that the undealt cards are mainly high cards. Then, decrease the bet when the running count is negative and only low cards remain in the deck.
Yes, there are strategies for beginners to learn how to assign values to cards, keep a running count and place your bets accordingly.
This is a blackjack betting system that helps you keep track of the high-value cards left in the deck. It’s a balanced system, as the balance amounts to 0.
No, these games are played with a Random Number Generator, with the decks shuffled after every hand. Every outcome is unpredictable and random, making it impossible to count cards. However, you can apply some strategies when playing Live Casino games in real-time.
Popular Card Counting Systems
|Card Counting System||How It Works|
|Hi-Lo||The most basic strategy, the system is useful for beginner players. +1 is assigned to cards between 2 and 6. Zero is assigned to cards 7 – 9. Ace, King, Queen and Jack are assigned a -1. Counting starts with the first card that is dealt. The higher the positive number in your count, the more high-value cards there are left in the deck and vice versa. You can start with a running count of 0 and then divide the number by the number of cards left in the shoe.|
|Omega II||Great for intermediate players, this system was developed by Bruce Carlson and cards are counted as two-point, with some counted as one-point. Cards 2, 3 and 7 are assigned a value of +1, while lower cards between 4 – 6 are +2. The 9 card has a value of -1, and the 10, King, Queen and Jack have a -2. Aces and 8s are counted as zero.|
|Hi-Opt I and II||The Hi-Opt systems are a balanced system, similar to Hi-Lo where you need to keep count to make informed bets. In Hi-Opt I, cards 3 – 6 are given a +1 value, Aces, 2 and 7 – 9 are five a zero value and King, Queen, Jack and 10s are given a -1.|
|Wong Halves||This is an elaborate three-level card counting method and is also a balanced system. Once all the cards in the deck are dealt, the final result of the calculations should come to 0. The running count should then become a true count to figure out your chances of winning. It’s suggested that you add up the final count once each deck is dealt. 2s and 7s are assigned a value of ½, 3 – 6 are given a +1, 5s are 1 ½, 9s are 0, 8s are -½ and Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks and 10s are -1. If you want to avoid fractions, you can double the values of ½.|
|Red 7||This is a great system for beginner blackjack players. The one-level system is built on high vs. low cards, with higher value cards assigned a -1 value and lower cards a +1. The neutral numbers, 8s and 9s, are assigned a zero value. 7s in the Red 7 system take colour into account. If the 7 is black, it’s considered neutral and therefore assigned a 0. If it’s red, it’s a low-value card and therefore given a +1 value. The higher your final count, the better it is for you.|
|KO System||The card counting Knock-Out system works well for both beginner and intermediate blackjack players. Similar to Hi-Lo, cards from 2 – 7 are assigned a +1, 8s and 9’s are marked as 0, and the remaining cards get a -1 value. The final count once the cards are dealt won’t amount to zero and therefore this is an unbalanced system.|
|Zen Count||This is a balanced system where the final count amounts to 0 once all the cards are dealt. 2, 3 and 7 are given a +1 value. 4 – 6 are assigned a +2 value. 8 and 9 are given a 0 value. Ace is given a -1 and 10, Jack, Queens and Kinds are assigned a -2. When your true count is 0 or less, you place a minimum bet with the aim of increasing your bets by 1 unit or the minimum bet each time the count increases.|
RNG Games and Card Counting
RNG stands for Random Number Generator, and it’s the heart of any licensed online casino. RNGs control online casino games, including card games. The idea is to prevent predictability and provide fair gambling for all players. During online blackjack games, for example, the RNG’s job is to generate random numbers.
As a result, it’s impossible to indulge in card counting when you play classic card games at online casinos. The RNG shuffles cards after each game, ensuring that each and every hand is dealt at random and that the outcomes are totally unpredictable, guaranteeing honesty and fair play through the games.
Since the results are completely random (RNGs don’t know the previous hand’s results), there is no predictability, and card counting attempts will fail.
Card Counting at Live Casino
Theoretically, card counting should work better when playing in a casino’s Live Casino section. That’s because you can watch the dealer shuffle and cut in real-time but at a slow enough pace that beginners can practice the different card counting strategies.
But there are rules to contend with. Most Live Casinos use continuous or automatic shufflers, and this prevents you from counting the cards since they’re always being shuffled.
In Live Casino games where a shoe is used, you’ll find that dealers cut the six to eight decks right down the middle, getting rid of half the shoe and halting any advantage you might have gained trying to count cards.
It all depends on your preferences. The card counting methods we have listed will help you get a slight advantage over the house, but you need to put in a lot of effort for only a little gain.
Plenty of players do like to count cards and they do make some money, but you need to keep things realistic. Card counting might give you a meagre one or two percent edge over the casino. What’s more, that advantage is only really based on long-term playing, whereas the results during a single session can vary drastically.
When the deck is positive, the dealer has just as much chance of getting high cards as you do.
Still, any edge you’re able to gain over the house is worth the effort that it takes to learn. We suggest trying out card games for free in demo mode or making use of online casino bonuses to practice your preferred strategies and hone your skills before you commit to wagering your own money. As always, only bet with what you can comfortably afford to lose and know when it’s time to walk away rather than chase any losses.
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