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How and Why Card Counting Systems Work

Why Blackjack Card Counting Works

The majority of casino games offer the exact same odds on every play.  As an example, for Roulette, the probability that the ball will fall on a given number are always the same.  The odds, which favour the house, ensure that, statistically, in the long run, the house will win and the player will lose.  Of course, the odds can be beat, especially in the short run, but more often than not the player will lose.  See the section on Variance for a more detailed explanation of expected results in the short run compared to the long run.

In blackjack, the odds of winning the current hand are greatly affected by the cards dealt in the previous hands.  After the first hand is dealt, the remainder of the deck is not usually re-shuffled.  If during the last hand a lot of bad cards were played and only a few good cards, then the remainder of the deck would be more favourable to the player. 

Counting cards is not brain surgery.  You don't need a photographic memory or anything close to it.  I have a terrible memory and it never stopped me.  Anyone can do it if they have some discipline and are willing to put in some work to practice.

For those who do not have time to put in the work required there is hope.  Please visit the How To Play Blackjack Online page where you can learn to gain an advantage over the casino and win big without having to count cards.


How Card Counting Systems work

Aces are good to the player since a blackjack pays 3 to 2 to the player.  Ten value cards (kings, queens, jacks, and tens) are also good since they are one of the cards required in a blackjack.  In addition, an abundance of tens increases the dealer's chance of busting, because the dealer must continue to draw cards until a total of 17 is reached.  As a result, the dealer will bust on a higher proportion of stiffs.  The player on the other hand has the option of sticking, especially if the dealer's up card is between 2 and 6.

Counting cards is a method of estimating your edge by keeping track of the ratio of good cards to bad cards.  Whenever more bad cards have been played, the remainder of the deck will contain a higher proportion of good cards.  Conversely, whenever more good cards have been played, the remainder of the deck will contain a higher proportion of bad cards.  As a player, you can use the knowledge of the general contents of the rest of the deck by:

Over the last 25 years, a large number of counting systems have been developed.  These range from simple systems to very complex.  As a rule, the more complex the system, the more effective.  Usually, the more complex the system, the longer it will take to master and the greater the chance of making mistakes during casino play.  In addition, the average player experiences fatigue during long sessions, which will increase with the level of complexity.

Assuming you are learning counting for the first time and you are serious about learning to play the game, I recommend the "Uston Advanced Plus/Minus Count" system, which is fairly easy to learn and use, but at the same time powerful enough to win you serious money.  The small additional effectiveness of a more complex system can easily be negated by an occasional mistake.  In real life, too many students of blackjack get discouraged trying to learn and never attempt to count again.  More complex systems should really be left to the pros, that is, players that play blackjack for a living, thus justifying the days of practice required.

In summary, the advantages of the Uston Advanced Plus/minus count are:

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