How to count cards in blackjack

Blackjack is one of the few casino games where the cards are not returned to the deck after each deal and are not shuffled. As a rule, the dealer deals several times from a shoe or even one deck. This gives players the advantage of being able to count the dealt cards and estimate the chance of winning.

Counting techniques

There are dozens of author's scoring systems in blackjack. But there are only a few basic principles on which they are built. Let's arrange them from simple to complex.

Blackjack Hands


Ace-Five or Ace-Five is the easiest card counting technique in blackjack. It only counts Aces and Fives.

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Overview 830

Суть системы:

  • The countdown starts from zero.
  • Each five in the hand +1, ace -1.
  • The larger the number, the higher the chances of winning.


  • Does not require any changes to the game flow.
  • Easy to learn even for a beginner.

Weaknesses: 873

  • Не дает большого преимущества в игре.

There are two modifications to the Ace-F system ive. They use the same calculation principle, but differ in the way the bet size is changed:

  1. It doubles when it reaches a certain limit, for example, +5.
  2. The amount corresponds to specific score values.


It's also easy to count using the Plus-Minus system. This does not require a calculator - only attentiveness and quick reaction.

By the way, this technique was used in the film "Twenty-one", based on real events.

The essence of the system:

  • Cards are divided into "small" (from two to six), "neutral" (from seven to nine) and "large" (from ten to ace) and have values ​​of +1, 0 and -1, respectively. 895
  • Чем больше счет, тем благоприятнее ситуация для игрока.
2, 3, 4, 5, 61
7, 8, 90
10, V, D, K, T-1

Benefits :

  • Simple.
  • Allows you to profitably change the strategy depending on the account.


  • Requires attentiveness, timely and correct change of strategy .
  • Inaccurate - the values ​​of the cards do not correspond to the real mathematical expectation.

For example, the exit of fives from the game is more favorable than twos, but according to the Plus-Minus system, it is evaluated equally. This omission was addressed in improved versions with a wide range of values, but such techniques are more difficult to apply.


At the time of its creation, Hi-Opt had no analogues among other techniques. The authors used an unusual approach - they took into account not only the mathematical expectation, but also the caution of the game strategy.

The essence of the system:

  • Only triples, fours, fives, sixes (favorable) and tens (unfavorable) are counted ).
  • Other cards are not taken into account.

The fundamental difference between Hi-Opt and other methods is that aces are ignored. The creators of the technique found this to be correct in terms of changing the course of the game.

3, 4, 5 , 61
7, 8, 90


  • Easy.
  • Suitable for cautious players.


  • Do not use aggressive strategy. 1008

Теоретически считать тузы эффективно, но на практике это может мешать, особенно при нехватке игрового опыта. Поэтому стратегия Hi-Opt хорошо подойдет для начинающих.


Halves can be considered an improved version of Plus-Minus. This technique is quite complex and requires good counting skills.

The essence of the system:

  • Cards are assigned a value proportional to the change in the mathematical expectation of the game after their release.
  • The higher the number score, the more chances to win.
3, 4 10382
10, В, Д, К, Т-2


  • High accuracy.


  • Complexity.
  • Bugs when counting, the effectiveness is nullified.

The "Half" technique was described in 1975 in his book "Professional Blackjack" by the American player Stanford Wang. In the original version, the card values ​​are half as much (from -1 to +1.5).

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Система Торпа

Thorpe System is one of the most complex techniques and is more of theoretical interest.

The essence of the system:

  • The values ​​of the cards accurately reflect change in mathematical expectation.
  • Jacks, queens and kings do not count.


  • Accurate.


  • It is very difficult to keep a mental count.
  • Does not count all cards.

The author of the system, Edward Thorp, is not only a player in blackjack and creator of the bestseller Beat the Dealer, but also a math professor. Therefore, he was probably able to put his own technique into practice.

A common misconception is that it takes several months to learn how to count cards.

In fact, you can master simple techniques much faster, even without phenomenal memory and mathematical talents. After a few weeks of regular practice, the calculation will take place "on the machine", the player will only need to be attentive.

Mathematics in gambling is needed more than anywhere else. The ability to count and memorize cards allows you to gain an advantage over the dealer. American professor of mathematics Edward Thorp was the first to conduct a scientific study on this topic. He has proven that he can consistently win blackjack with card counting. Publication of the book…Read more
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How casinos deal with card counting

Counting increases the chances of winning, so players , counting cards, usually close access to the casino. Observers are watching this, but it is, of course, impossible to calculate everyone. Then the owners of the gambling business take measures that reduce the effectiveness of any system:

  • Forbid raising rates.
  • Increase the number of decks in the shoe.
  • Use shuffle machines. 1311
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Is it possible to count cards in an online casino

In an online game, the shoe is updated after each hand, so the count is meaningless. You can count only inlive-casino, where the dealer is a live person, and the cards are shuffled after several hands.

Possibility to increase the chances of winning when counting cards is one of the reasons for the popularity of blackjack. Even simple techniques that provide small advantages make the game more interesting and profitable.

Richard "Boz" Bosworth is the main partner and CEO of the young company JC Hospitality, LLC ...
Position: Author of analytical materials Higher education Age: 24 years old Experience: more than 5 years Brief biography: Born on March 24, 1997 in the city of Volkhov, Leningrad Region. In 2015, he successfully graduated from a comprehensive school, after which he entered the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics...
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