ACE to FIVE CARD COUNTING SYSTEM – Modified

Most people think that card counting is difficult learn.  There are many different systems that have been devised, from simple to more complex.  A more complex system will give a more accurate count, so  it would be better, but even the simplest of systems will drop the house edge.

As a casino player, you want to reduce the house edge in any game you play.  With blackjack having the lowest house edge in all casino games, if you’re able to reduce that even a little bit more, the better the chance of having a profitable gambling session.

The true system was developed by Michael Shackleford, better known as the Wizard of Odds, and for astute mathematical analysis of casino games.

HOW IT WORKS

The reason the system is based on aces and fives, is because those two cards have the biggest influence on house edge when they are removed from the deck.

Because you focus on only two cards, it’s easier to learn.  The more complex systems have you thinking about more cards, making them more reliable.  However, if you can learn this easier system, it makes learning more complex systems easier.

This modified version starts with a count of 10 (as opposed to 0), done this way so you won’t have to work with negative numbers.  That can actually work with most systems, if you don’t like to work with negative numbers.

Each time you see a 5, add 1 to your count, each time you see an ace, subtract 1 from your count.  You use this count to determine how much your bet should be.  If the count is 11 or less, you stay with the minimum bet

When the count reaches 12 or 13, you want to double your bet. If the count gets to 14 or 15, you double your bet again. If the count reaches 16 or more, you again double the bet.

So, if thinking in terms of bet units and the minimum bet is 1 unit, as the count increases, you’re betting 1unit, 2units, 4units or 8units. It looks like this:

  • Count is 11 or less – bet 1 unit
  • Count is 12 or 13 – bet 2 units
  • Count is 14 or 15 – bet 4 units
  • Count is 16 or more – bet 8 units

Should the count get to 6 or lower, consider getting up from that table, as the house edge is probably higher than normal at that point.

FINAL THOUGHTS

That is the short and sweet of the system. The system should not take long to learn because it is quite simple.  If you can learn it, and use it while applying perfect basic blackjack strategy, you will probably do better than break even in the long run. 

Take the time to practice at home before trying it at a casino.  You have to be able to count, without looking like you’re counting. As your skills improve with this simple system, don’t be afraid to move up to a more advanced system.  Because you now understand the concept of card counting, it won’t be as difficult to learn more advanced techniques.  Good luck!

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BLACKJACK CARD COUNTING

Team Card Counting

As an individual player, you are limited to the number of hands you can play at one time.  However, if you have a group of players looking to beat the house, your odds will go up dramatically.

Probably the most famous blackjack team to be discovered, was the M.I.T. blackjack students, who became the inspiration for the movie “21.”

Common team card counting strategies consist of having different players in the group, playing at different tables, or signaling the team players when to move in with the bigger bets. One advantage with team play is that it allows you to move in with a big bet only when the table is extremely favorable to the player.  As a team player, you can hold back the big bets every now and then, although the table is favorable, because you know your other team players should be making money.

Of course, there are also downfalls to team play.  With many players involved, there is a risk of getting caught, and winnings have to be split many ways.

CLASSIC TEAM STRUCTURE

The Back-Spotter

This is the person who isn’t necessarily seated at a table.  This person watches the tables from a distance and then will signal “The Gorilla” when to sit down at a table.

The Spotter

This person will actually be a player at a table, responsible for keeping an accurate card count at that table.  Because the casinos are constantly looking for betting irregularities, The Spotter maintains minimum betting, but looks to signal The Gorilla or team manager when the deck becomes favorable.

The Gorilla

This person moves from table to table, making maximum bets when the tables are extremely favorable for the player.  Often The Gorilla will be quite boisterous and loud, acting like a high-roller who is willy-nilly throwing his money around.

The Big Player

This person has the job of keeping the rest of the team from getting detected.  He will be a high roller, seated at a table, displaying expert blackjack strategy.  This will attract casino personnel attention. Though it’s not illegal to employ perfect blackjack strategy, a person with a hefty bankroll (like The Gorilla) and game knowledge, will hopefully pull attention away from the rest of the team.

KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL TEAM

  1. Dedication – Each member should be quite proficient in the art of card counting.  One weak link can destroy a whole hour’s worth of profit. 
  2. Trust – You want to be able to trust each member you’re working with. You want to know they won’t steal from you, as well as trust that they will play the game correctly.
  3. Sufficient Bankroll – Pooled resources allow you to generate more profits in a shorter period of time.
  4. Strong Management/Leadership –  Any size team needs leadership people to make the many decisions and to keep the records.
  5. Fairness – As with almost any team, there will be times of divisiveness where fairness will be questioned.  With a blackjack team, questions about how the bankroll will be split, how often each member will play, how profits will be split and so on.  You don’t have to worry about fairness when you play by yourself, you get exactly what you played for.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Card counting as a team is not easy per se, it takes a lot of practice and dedication. However, if done correctly, as your team starts beating the house, it becomes worth it! 

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Is Wonging in Blackjack Effective?

Wonging

This is a technique named after Standford Wong, the pen name for the legendary author of “Professional Blackjack” and other gambling books.   It’s not that Stanford invented the technique, but many of the users were Wong’s students.

It is when you stand beside or behind a blackjack table and count the cards and then decide to sit down at the table when the deck is favorable to you as the player.  It is also called “back-counting,” because you’re counting cards from behind the players. 

It is mostly used when there are several decks in play because it allows the wonger to spend some time counting cards.  If only a couple of decks are being used, the wonger doesn’t have a chance to get a good count on the deck before it’s shuffled.

By sitting down when the deck has become favorable, you can make relatively larger bets at once, hopefully without drawing suspicion.  If you’ve been at a table a while and suddenly start making bigger bets, the pit boss may consider that a sign that you’re counting cards and know the deck is suddenly favorable.

Some casinos try to negate wonging by having a “no mid-shoe entry” policy.  However, that can be difficult to enforce, so it still can be done effectively.

There is also a technique called Semi-wonging, where you actually leave the table at a predetermined point in the count.  For instance, you may have sat down when the count was +8, but decide to leave the table if the count falls to +4.

Wonging Advantages

The most obvious advantage is that you only play when the deck is favorable to you.  You don’t have to make minimum bets because you’re only playing when the count is highly favorable, allowing for maximum bets for you.

With bankroll management a vital concern, not having to waste time and money with minimal bets when the deck is not favorable, is a huge advantage.  The bigger you can bet, the more you can win, in a shorter period of time.

Wonging Disadvantages

Though standing around and counting cards can be relatively simple, it can also be noticed by casino surveillance. The casino will eventually realize that you observe tables for a bit and then sit down and make relatively large bets.

Despite sitting down when the deck is favorable, there’s no telling how long the deck will remain this way.  You will of course want to get up when the deck starts cooling down.  Casinos become wary of card counting when a player sits down for only a couple of hands, gets up and perhaps watches a few hands and then sits down again.  You don’t want to be that obvious.

Final Thoughts

Wonging has been around since probably the 1970s.  It can still be done effectively today if it is thoroughly understood and practiced.

In terms of doing it effectively, you need to be able to count cards from a distance, without drawing attention to yourself.

As a wonger, you probably won’t have your table mates happy with you because you sit down and start winning, while they have suffered through all the bad hands!  Just tell them you’ve brought them luck, since the deck is now favorable for all players!

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Card Counting Practice

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.

Speed Counting

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.

Distractions

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.

Online Practice

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!

Easy Card Counting

I mentioned in an earlier post that the easiest and most widely used method of card counting is one called the Hi-Lo method. The Hi-Lo is probably the most used but there are some other methods I discovered that are probably even easier to master.

The Easy OPP System

This was developed by Carlos Zilzer.  OPP is an ancronym for One Per Person.  Mr. Zilzer did thousands of simulated tests with the system and has documented the highly effective results he garnished with it. He has actually defined two different methods, with each being simple to understand and easy to master. Let’s go over them:

  • Method One – Number of Hands
    • First, make sure you start at the beginning of a shoe, so sit at a table that has just completed shuffling.  The running count is started at +6, so the count will rarely get to negative numbers, which can be confusing in keeping a running count of cards.  Immediately subtract the “number of hands” (thus the name) being played, including the dealer’s hand, from the running count.  With 2 players at the table, each playing one hand, the initial count would be +3. (+6-3=3) Remember to add a hand if a player is playing 2 spots.  Then, as the cards are dealt, simply add the total of low cards (2’s – 6’s) to your count, with each low card valued at +1.  At the end of the round, you have a running count.  Determine your next bet size based on the running count at the end of the round.  The higher the running count. the higher the advantage is to the player, the bigger your bet should be.
    • What’s great about this method is that the only subtracting you have to do is at the beginning of the next round, when subtracting the number of hands being played.  After that, you add 1 to the count for every low card that is dealt.  You can just look at the table and quickly count the total number of 2’s-6’s, you see. Take that total and add it to the running count number in your head.  Addition is so much easier than subtraction, which is the beauty of this system.
  • Method Two – Value of the Hands
    • First, wait for the first two cards to be dealt to all players, including the dealer, then determine the value of each hand by the following parameters:
      • A hand with no low cards (2’s-6’s) = -1
      • A hand with one low card = 0
      • A hand with two low cards = +1
      • A hand with 3 low cards = +2, and so forth, (4 low cards = +3)
      • Split hands are considered new hands (value of the original hand is not counted)
    • The total number of cards in a hand doesn’t matter.  For instance, the following hand of “Ace, Ace, 3, 4, Jack, 2” has a value of +2 because it has 3 low cards.
    • As with method 1, your running count should start at +6 when you sit down at the beginning of a shoe.  The only subtraction is if there are no low cards in a hand and that’s just a -1.

Betting with the OPP Method

As with any counting method, the higher your running count, the more you want to bet, because at that point, the shoe is deemed favorable to the player.

There is definitely a more detailed chart you can look at if you research this system, but basically:

  • Increase your bet under the following situations:
    • For a two-deck game – running count should be +8
    • For a six-deck game – running count should be +12
    • For an eight-deck game – running count should be +14

Remember this is a very simple system (either method), and your count may never get to the higher value, for several shoes, so be patient and stay conservative to stay profitable.  Play disciplined, play long!

The Red Seven Count Method

This system was developed by Arnold Snyder, a well-known professional gambler, author, and blackjack expert who has written numerous books on blackjack. In fact, I suggest checking out a couple of his books: “Blackbelt in Blackjack-Playing 21 as a Martial Art” and “The Big Book of Blackjack” for a thorough look into the ins and outs of playing blackjack for a profit and counting methods.

With this method, the high cards (10’s-Aces) are given a value of -1, and the low cards (2’s-6’s) are valued at +1.  The 8’s & 9’s are considered neutral and valued at zero (0). The red 7’s are valued at +1, like a low card, but the black 7’s are valued at zero (0), so considered neutral. Obviously this would create an imbalance in the count, which is what makes the count work. And of course, it really doesn’t matter if you switch it around and value the black 7’s at +1 and the red 7’s as neutral.  The developer of the system, Arnold Snyder, chose red, and therefore, The Red Seven Count. As a note, if you practice this method by running through a 52-card deck, your final count will always be +2

The running count starting number for this method is determined by multiplying the number of decks in play by -2.  So if you’re at a table using 6 decks, your start number is -12 (6 x -2).

Betting with the Red Seven Count Method

As always, the idea is to bet bigger when you have an advantage over the house, and if the advantage grows, bet even bigger.  When the house has the advantage, keep your bets to a minimum.

  • Increase your bet under the following situations:
    • for a 2 deck game – running count should be +4 before increasing from minimum
    • for a shoe game (4 or more decks) – running count should be +6 before increasing from minimum

The Red Seven Count system is considered to be a professional level system that is both powerful and easy to use.  Check out the book “Blackbelt in Blackjack” for a more in depth understanding of this system.

Mastering Card Counting – Practice

Being able to count fast is the secret to using card counting to beat the casino at blackjack. The best card counters actually count cards in groups of at least two cards at a time.  In many pairs of 2 cards, the values actually cancel each other out, so they can be tossed or disregarded.  Once you can quickly run through a deck of cards at a single card pace, practice, practice, practice even harder to become proficient at counting pairs of cards.  Being able to quickly recognize “cancelling pairs” will make the difference in counting at a professional level or not.  The top professional card counters can actually count in groups of 3 or 4 at a time. That’s my goal!

With that in mind, don’t work on speed of count until you’ve perfected your accuracy.  It won’t matter if you’re fast, if your count is wrong.  It’s a fact that most professional counters can easily count down a deck in less than 30 seconds.  You can imagine that a goal like that involves a lot of practice, but if you can get to 30 seconds or less, you should do just fine in most casino blackjack games.

When you feel ready to take your card counting skills to the casino for the first time, don’t actually sit down and play, practice counting while just watching.  This way you can get a feel of the speed of play and determine whether or not you can count at a pace that keeps up with the game play.

Conclusion

Of course there are many other counting methods to choose from, but these are definitely 2 of the easiest to learn.  You can absolutely use either one to make a nice profit at beating the casino at blackjack.  You can make more money with a simple system because you’ll make fewer mistakes. Mistakes in card counting can be costly very quickly. Pick a simple  card counting system and give it a go.  Card counting can be easy!

 

 

 

 

Card Counting for Blackjack

Learning to count cards for blackjack will greatly enhance your chance of a profitable session of playing blackjack and beating the casino for the evening.blackjack10

Is It Legal

Though it might be hard to get the big winners to admit to card counting, you can bet that they all use some sort of card counting system if they say they can regularly win at blackjack Card counting makes such a big difference in winning or losing that people do question the legality of it. While it is NOT illegal, casinos definitely watch for card counters and will kindly ask a card counter not to come back. They may let you enjoy the rest of the casino, but you will be banned from the blackjack tables. So, actually the hardest part of card counting is not to get caught so you don’t get banned. Try not to make dramatic changes in bet sizes, so as to alert pit bosses. Even if the card count is a high positive number, control your increase in bet size so you don’t draw attention to yourself. It’s better to be able to come back to a casino on a regular basis, winning a reasonable amount each time, as opposed to having one killer night and being asked never to return because you won too much!

As in basic blackjack strategy, card counting is easy to learn, but difficult and time-consuming to become proficient at and master. That being said, if you take the time to do just that, it can make your blackjack sessions highly profitable for the most part.

How is it done?

With card counting, you are basically keeping track of the ratio of low cards to high cards that are left in the shoe. Contrary to popular belief, it does not involve memorization. The player’s advantage is heightened when there are more high cards (10’s-Aces) remaining in the shoe, so that’s what a player needs to keep track of and know.

Why does it work?

If there are more high cards played in a round, that means there are more low cards left in the shoe. If that is the case, the dealer has the advantage because it is more likely that he will be able to “hit” his cards and not bust because he’ll probably get a low card. If the opposite occurs, and there are more high cards in the shoe, there’s a better chance that the dealer will bust if he has to “hit” his hand because he’ll probably get a high card…advantage player!

What is basic card counting strategy?

The easiest and probably most used system is known as Hi-Lo. First, you want to assign a value to every card. Within the Hi-Lo system, card values are assigned as: 2-6=+1, 7-9=0, 10-Aces=-1. So as each card is dealt, you keep a running total based on the card’s assigned value. With each card dealt, you either add 1, subtract 1 or do nothing if it’s a 0 card (7-9). You do make sure you include the dealer’s cards in the count as well. When the running count becomes positive or favorable, you’ll want to increase your bet size.

True Count for Multi-deck games

With the use of multiple decks, the running count can be deceiving in terms of what is the actual ratio of high cards to low cards left in the shoe. True count is determined by dividing the running count by the number of remaining decks in the game. This is probably the most tricky part of card counting, because it does involve basic math..division! If you’re at a table playing with 6 decks and you have a running count of +4 with 2 remaining decks, your true count would be 4 divided by 2, which is +2.

Using Card Counting Effectively

A card counter must watch all cards played, even the dealer’s cards, to keep a running count in mind. The count is continued until a shuffle occurs or end of round. Once a shuffle has occurred, the count starts back at zero. The higher the positive count, the bigger the counter’s edge, and therefore the bigger the bet size should be. With a negative or neutral running count, keep the bets minimal. Proper money management is also an integral part of profitable blackjack sessions.

Final Points

Card counting is just the ability to figure out when it is most advantageous to make bigger bets and win more money. It just makes you a more skilled player than the person next to you. A card counter won’t win every time, but will win more often than not. Really good money can be made with card counting because you’ll be winning with larger bets and losing with smaller bets, if done properly. You don’t have to be genius to learn it either. Anybody willing to put in the necessary time to master card counting can beat the casino at blackjack.blackjack13