Count Cards At Blackjack Basic Strategy

13 July 2018 3 minutes to read
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When the first hand is dealt from the shoe you’re faced with a disadvantage of -57%. Even if you make the same bet size in blackjack you will always lose over the long run. If you’re interested about the legal aspects of blackjack card counting we’ve covered it on this page: https://casinowhizz.com/site/legal-count-cards-playing-blackjack-land-casinos/

In this article we’re going to tell you more about the basic strategy of counting cards in blackjack. At times the player has a slight advantage simply because of the remaining cards in the shoe. Players who know when the cards favor them know exactly when to increase their bet size. Most casinos we know off remove the tens from the deck, the reason for this is simple: It gives the House the edge and it allows the dealer to play more hands. As a result you’ll get more lousy hands then you bargained for.

The player has the advantage when small cards are removed from the deck because it gives them decent hands. If you are playing a single-deck game and two small cards such as 2 – 6 are removed from the deck, it puts you at even odds with the House. In theory you will win just as much as you lose. If four small cards are removed from the deck the player has a small edge of 1% over the house. In a nutshell, this is how card counting works. Cards from 2 to 6 are assigned plus one value and a minus one value to 10 up to Ace.


Your biggest advantage of overcoming the casino’s edge in blackjack is to vary your bets according to the true count. If you vary your play you can bet on gains from 0.2% to 0.3% on the true count. Ten to one you most probably had situations where so many small cards were dealt that you knew that hitting your 12 against the dealer’s 3 was going to get you a face card. Based on true count there is a point, standing with a 12 against a 3 is better than hitting. We call this ‘basic strategy variation’.

Modifying your hand according to the true count occurs around 10% of the time. In the event the count drops you will double less, you’ll split pairs less often and you’ll hit stiff hands more than you like. Players good at card counting double more as the count goes up, they split pairs more and hit ‘stiffs’ less. The is only one variation for each basic strategy play.

The variation for the hand 10 is a good example, 6 versus 10 stands instead of a hit with a true count of 6 or more, never double and never split. A good example on the minus side is the A, 2 versus 5, basic strategy says you must double, however, if the count is below zero hit.

The Power of Basic Strategy Variations

Any variation’s power is determined how often it is used. If a player plays 100,000 blackjack hands a year (more or less 20 hours per week), expect to see a hand of 16 versus 10 about 3,500 times (3.5%). Any variation here has considerable value, simply because it will be used often. The frequency of the hands allows us to prioritize the learning of the basic strategy variations. When you are counting cards there are 43 changes over basic strategy, this is why it requires some study to master. The edge you’ll have over the house will be small this is why it’s important that you play a flawless game to win.

When it comes to basic strategy the insurance bet is one of the most important variations. The dealer shows an Ace as an up card about 7.5% of the time, knowing when to take the insurance bet is key. Insurance it worthwhile but only if you are playing a 6 deck game and when the true count is plus three or higher.

At the point always make an insurance bet, it doesn’t matter which cards you are holding. Most experts will agree that the card counting system has an ‘Insurance Efficiency’ of 80%, eight out of the ten times you’ll be the winner when an insurance bet is made based on the true count.

Considerable value is gained if you know the variations that involve hands starting with 12-6 versus any up card, these hands pitch more often. Suffice to say 54% of all your hands will be ‘stiff’. When to Double or not is equally important and when to split your pairs. We hope this gives you some insight on how card count works.

Further Reading

1. https://www.blackjackapprenticeship.com/how-to-count-cards/

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