Achieving any kind of move to the house edge is critical to online blackjack success. As part of the head-to-head showdown between you and the house, it’s best to minimize your opponent’s initial advantage and give yourself a long-term fighting opportunity. As a general rule, the main way to reduce the house edge in blackjack is to play according to basic strategy, the mathematical calculations of how to proceed with different hands.
With so many different cards in play, you need a pretty good memory to remember the sequence of cards dealt, not forgetting advanced knowledge of arithmetic and probabilities. There are ways to execute card counting strategies without genius feats. These can advance your game and offer you a better position concerning the house edge.
Card counting theory
Card counting works because blackjack uses a fixed number of cards that are generally not shuffled between hands. In its simplest form, remember that a game is played with a deck that contains 52 cards. Over time, these are distributed, depending on the deck’s random order, leaving even more cards of a certain value to be dealt.
If the game is one-on-one between you and the house, the more high cards you draw in the first few hands, the less available to draw in later rounds. Similarly, if you draw more lower-value cards in the early rounds, your chances of drawing higher-value cards – potentially blackjack-worthy – increase rapidly in successive rounds.
If you play blind, without any method of tracking cards, you can only assume an even probability with each hand – you are as likely to hit 21 on your first hand as it is on your last. But in the scenario above, it’s easy to see how these odds can swing wildly, depending on how the cards fall.
Blackjack is generally played in casinos with multiple decks of cards, stacked in a “shoe.” So instead of having 4 Aces in play, there could be 16 or 32. This makes it more difficult to keep track of the cards, but it is still possible.
How to assign points based on card values
A California math teacher was the first to devise the point-scoring technique for card counting. After modeling his strategy in a live casino environment, his work was published with great international commercial success. The author thus introduced card counting as a practical and feasible strategy for the first time. It worked by assigning points to cards based on their value.
All cards dealt numbered 2 through 6 are considered positive, that is, plus 1 point. All cards from 10 onwards are considered negative; that is, they have a minus 1 point value. Cards 7 through 9 are neutral, so they represent zero points.
To successfully use this strategy, you must keep a total of execution points in mind, adjusted with each card that is dealt to determine if the balance is positive or negative. This is known as a “running count” and can be used to have all the key information to determine whether the deck is favorable at any point in the game.
This strategy works well, but the casinos are smart. To protect against players implementing this type of card counting, casinos have included multiple decks in their blackjack games.
Therefore, before adding the total point value of the cards on the table to your accounts, you must divide them by the number of decks remaining in the ‘shoe.’ Keep in mind that the decks will be depleted as the cards are dealt, so their division number will decrease over time.
When to bet big
Card counting of this type is not a guarantee that you will win every hand. Nothing can guarantee that. But by giving you a better idea of the game’s odds, it allows you to play with these in the long run, which will put you in a better position to move intelligently in the game.