Part 79: The part where I learn about Card Counting
I was at dinner with some friends the other day and I told them about my online casino adventures. I haven’t dared to tell any of my friends this before because there is a lot of stigmas surrounding online gambling. And I was right the response to my adventures was rather mixed. Some of my friends thought that I would get addicted and were not so supportive. They said I should stop with that nonsense straight away. I tried to explain that I am very aware of these things and that I actively work to not become addicted by taking steps like limiting the money I spend on the online casinos and making sure I am not on the casino websites every day. If you want to read about my best tips you can do so here or here!
What surprised me the most though was that I wasn’t alone in having casino adventures. Some of my friends knew very much about gambling and they were telling me about their trips to real casinos all over the world which made me think of us as a sort of community, a community that understands the thrill of betting €5 (hehe, ok my friends bet a lot more) on a blackjack hand and winning! After dinner one of my friends…let’s call him J… asked if I wanted to learn to count cards, and despite knowing that card counting is impossible on online casinos and that it is looked badly upon in real casinos I thought it could be a fun and interesting post here on the blog, and I did say I want to become a blackjack legend didn’t I?
If you have never played blackjack, FindFairCasinos has a pedagogical guide you can read here!
Oh, I also decided to do this in an interview type of way… hope you like it!
So, J, tell me… how did you get into playing blackjack?
It all started when I saw the movie 21. I think It was the same for a lot of us in our generation. That movie really introduced casinos to us. After this, around the same time, I also heard about the MIT blackjack team… it is a group of current and ex-students from MIT, Harvard and other leading colleges who use card counting techniques and sophisticated strategies to beat casinos world-wide. These two things sparked my interest, but I still didn’t know much about Blackjack, so I decided to put some effort into research.
I did a lot of googling before trying to find some good webpages or images explaining the game to me. I needed to feel comfortable with the game before I dared to start playing with money. I think I researched the subject for like two-three days before starting to play and I would recommend everyone new to online casinos to do the same.
Those are some great tips. I also agree that researching games can be so giving, it can give a sense of security…especially for when you play with real money. I mean you don’t want to lose money just because you didn’t understand a game!
Did you start playing at real casinos directly or how did you start?
Uhm... I started like most players do, online… I know that there is a lot of talk about the negative sides of online casinos and I understand that as well, but for me, it was more like a school… a place where I could practice. Oh, and I only chose casinos where I felt safe which comparison sites like FindFairCasinos are very useful to help you find. I also think it’s important to say that I started small. Only betting the bare minimum and then working my way up. I never felt pressured to bet big or to win big, for me it was more about learning all there was to know about Blackjack and perfecting my game.
You seem very devoted to Blackjack. Do you ever get tired and play other online casino games?
Hahahah! Of course, I get tired and bored with it. Because I look at blackjack as something I need to perfect, I want to perfect my blackjack skills, it sometimes becomes quite tedious and boring so then I need to mix it around a bit, maybe play some Roulette or Slot machines. These games are good because the pay-out is much faster… basically, you click and there is a result… with blackjack, there is much more thinking. But Blackjack is my ultimate favourite game.
Now teach us! How do we newbies best start counting cards?
Well for all beginners I would recommend looking at Basic Blackjack strategy. When you google this and then look at the image results you get a whole lot of tables explaining whether you should Stand, Hit, Double or Split.
The one, here is the one I used when I started, but there are several and it is more about which one you like the most and get used to. (Picture from www.Blackjack.com.au)
Using this strategy takes down the house edge to 0.75% increasing your chances to win even without counting cards. If you then add the counting to the equation your chances of taking home big wins increase.
Ok, so this table I can use even when I’m not counting cards?
Exactly, it is just a way to increase your odds based on countless calculations and statistics.
So, now we come to the interesting part. The actual card counting… So counting cards is not actually about counting how many cards there are left on the deck… that is a common misconception you see… Counting cards is getting as close as you can to 3-5 and you do this to make sure that there are more 10’s in the deck than there are low cards.
Wait, I’m lost…3-5?
Yes so we give all cards a worth, and when you see the cards that are on the table you add it up… depending on how many decks are being in use a number between 3 and 5 is where I usually get in and play.
Cards 7, 8 and 9 are 0. They don’t count.
Cards 6 all the way down to 2 counts as 1
Cards 10 up to Ace count as -1
If you look in the picture below…
We would have -1 since the Dealers card is 0, the first hand from the left is -1 the middle card is -1 and the hand on furthest right is 1.
We want the count to be as high as possible because then we know there are no more high cards left in the deck, giving us the advantage.
So, we won’t be having an advantage until we get to around 3-5 (depending on the number of decks that are being used), that is when I start betting big. Before that, I bet very small or not at all… because as in a real casino, in online casinos you can also just observe what is going on for a while before you dive in and start playing.
For beginners I would say to start with a piece of paper and do the runs to see the what number you are on and then you will get a hang of it and start doing it in your head without thinking of it… oh and always keeping the blackjack strategy close to hand to be able to learn the strategy at the same time.
Eventually you will learn when you feel the most comfortable heading into the game and when to bet big and when not to… oh and remember this only works with real decks… so the online casino games won’t work with this!
Oh wow… I really feel like I’ve learned a lot… but I`m not sure how to start… I guess I will just have to play to get the feel for it and try both the strategy and the card counting out…Any other tips?
Yeah… some believe that you should never split or double 10’s or face cards, because when you do you have to continue and then you make it harder on yourself and your chances to bust are bigger.
I would also say that the dealer`s weakest hand is when they have a 5 or a 6 because the chances for a 10 are big and then they are so close to 16 where they have to draw one more card… so even if you get a 12 if the dealer has a 6 …STAND!
Use these useful tips to become a better Blackjack player! If you register on Lanadas today your first deposit is matched giving you double the money to play with!