As with anything you want to be proficient at, it requires practice. Card counting is no exception. While it is definitely not illegal, casinos don’t like it to be used because it absolutely allows the player to win more and lose less.
To use it effectively, you have to make sure your usage is not detectable! Card counters have to be cool, calm and collected, so the pit bosses don’t start keying on your activities. You want to practice until the process becomes second nature to you.
How To Practice
Fortunately, it’s as simple as grabbing a deck of cards and counting through the entire deck, one card at a time. Using the simple Hi-Lo method, as you count through the 52 cards (jokers removed), your final count should be 0.
Your goal should be to get faster each time through. The expert card counters are able to get through a deck in less than 30 seconds.
The difference between professional card counters and beginners, is the expert’s ability to count cards in groups, as opposed to counting each card individually.
Because cards are generally grouped in pairs as you look at a blackjack table, it should be your goal to look at a pair and immediately know that value. For instance, if you see a Jack and a 3, you should automatically think “0” instead of “-1” and “+1”, = “0.” Learn to recognize low cards (2’s-6’s) and 10-value cards cancel each other to 0. In the same vein, with 2 low cards, immediately think “+2,” and with 2 10-value cards, think “-2.” Being able to look at 2 cards at once and have a count, will dramatically increase your counting speed.
You want to practice your card counting with as many distractions as you can possibly create, because casinos will have many distractions. Just the noise alone in a casino can make card counting difficult.
The casino atmosphere can work a little in your favor as well, because if you can maintain your cool and keep a running count of the cards on the table, without a pit boss becoming suspicious, more power to you! You want to be focused, but not “look” focused on the cards dropping on the table.
You want to be able to take only a second to look at cards and a get a count in your head. If you can only count by intently staring and doing the math in your head, you will be caught by a pit boss and kindly asked to leave the table. Learn to count with just a peek at the cards and do the math in your head while looking away from the table.
Finally, there are many online simulators that will help you increase your card counting speed and accuracy. These are effective ways to truly test how fast you are at counting. You may have gotten very good at challenging yourself with hand dealing to yourself, but rest assured, it’s more difficult with the online simulators and therefore great practice.
I like cardcountingtrainer.com and the free counter at casino.org just to name a couple of trainers. All you need to do is a google search for card counting simulators to find one that you’ll like.
Many people don’t try card counting because they feel it’s too difficult. That’s not true! All it takes is practice, practice, practice.
It takes a lot of practice because the hardest part of card counting for blackjack, is doing it calmly enough so that you’re not caught doing it. Remember, it’s not illegal, so you won’t get arrested, you’ll just be asked to not come back.
The best way to stay calm about it is to know it so well, that it’s like second nature to you and you can count without batting an eye. That just takes practice!