Counting cards is a great strategy for minimizing the house edge and possibly winning when playing blackjack. Learning how to count cards isn’t easy but it’s a useful skill to pair with basic strategy. The combination of the two skills and proper bet spreading could even prove to be profitable for someone playing the right blackjack game.
Counting cards in blackjack is simply a way of keeping track of the cards that are in play. This skill will allow the player to know when there are more high or low cards remaining in the deck. Over time, the player is in a better position when more high cards remain in the deck. Similarly, the player is in a worse position over time when more low cards remain in the deck.
Knowing when the count is in their favor allows a player to increase the amount of money bet when the count is in their favor. While the skill isn’t illegal, casinos don’t like players that can shift the house edge of the game to their side. Players caught counting will be removed from the game and possibly the casino.
Knowing how to count cards isn’t always useful in blackjack. It’s not possible to make a game profitable when it pays 6:5 when a player is dealt a natural blackjack. The skill only changes the should edge when playing the best games with a very low house edge.
Frankly, the main reason blackjack players count cards is to increase their chance of making money when playing. The skill isn’t as useful for casual players because it’s difficult to learn and takes a lot of concentration. If the purpose of playing blackjack isn’t 100 percent to make a profit – at any expense – counting cards may not be for you.
Counting Cards Isn’t Easy
Cheddar has an interesting look at counting cards for beginners. The former dealer in the video seems to look at counting cards as a waste of time. That really depends on the player and what they’re looking for when counting cards.
If you’re on the fence about learning how to count cards, the video below could help steer you in the right direction on whether or not counting cards in blackjack is right for you.
Here are a few quotes that stood out to me:
- “You still won’t make millions counting cards” – This is true for recreational players. As you’ll see below, someone with dedication, a large bankroll, and passion for the game could make a nice living.
- “Everybody wants to learn how to cheat the system and go home rich” – Counting cards isn’t cheating.
- “They’re (casino security) is always one step ahead of you and you will get caught – especially if you’re working in teams.” – This is mostly true and part of the skill you’ll need to count cards.
- “Even if you play perfect strategy and keep a perfect count, you’re still not going to make a ton of money.” – Making money takes time as you’ll see below.
3 reasons you won’t make millions counting cards:
- You need the time (to play a lot of hands). It takes 100-200 hours of practice just to learn how to count. Rules and deck penetration make playing the game a more difficult way to make money.
- You need a sizable bankroll and patience. Profit when counting is only about 1%. It takes time for that to show up in your wallet. You can make $50-$75 an hour. It takes about 13,000 hours of gameplay to make $1 million gross profit. Subtract expenses to find your net.
- You need to be undetectable. It takes about 15 minutes for surveillance to find a card counter.
Is Counting Cards Right For You?
Counting cards takes time, patience, skill, and money. Learning this skill is not something that interests me. I like to have a few drinks while I’m playing blackjack. Extending how long I can play and possibly hit a hot streak is enough for me.
I look to minimize the house edge by playing perfect basic strategy. I’m not very patient. I enjoy playing blackjack, but not enough to where I can play long enough to make learning how to count cards a lucrative venture.