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Card Counting Strategies for Blackjack Players

Although not particularly illegal, especially when you're not getting any help from the outside, many land-based casinos will eject you if you're suspected of card counting. With online casino sites, however, this is a much tougher call to make, so incorporating counting as a strategy will improve your chances of winning significantly when you do it correctly.

In this article, you'll find out some of the popular strategies that have been put to use over the years and how you can get the best out of them.

How Does Blackjack Card Counting Work?

Players are always on the lookout for foolproof ways to win more at real money casinos. In a game of blackjack, you can do this by learning and developing a card-counting strategy. With every hand, making quick calculated decisions can mean the difference between winning and losing.

If you intend to gain an edge over the dealer in blackjack, then counting cards can help you greatly. You’ll also be able to minimise your losses during cold streaks, increase your bets at the appropriate time, and alter your gameplay to suit the composition of cards left in the dealer's shoe.

Cards and Their Values

Highlighted below is a detailed explanation of how card counting in blackjack works:

Learn and assign values to the face and number cards. These values can be negative, positive, and zero. Here are the standard value designations for blackjack cards.

Card Type

Assigned Value

10s, Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces


Seven to Nine Cards


Two to Six Cards


Maintain a running count of every card that is dealt by using the values above. For instance, if the dealer displays a 5 (+1), the count will increase by one. Let's say you have a nine (0) and an ace (-1), the count will be 0. If the dealer’s up-card is a 4 (+1) and subsequently hits for a 7 (0), the count becomes +1.

More Card Counting Tips

At this point, you should try calculating the true count of the cards based on the number of decks in play. This is necessary because blackjack is played with 6-8 decks at most real money casinos, and you can get the true count by dividing the running count by the total number of decks in play. For example, a blackjack game with 8 decks and a running count of +16 has a true count value of +2.

You should take advantage of the count as the game progresses because a blackjack true count affects the house edge. For instance, having a true count of +1 on a six-deck card game implies that you have an advantage over the house. In the same vein, a true count of +3 reduces the house edge to -1, making the game so much more favourable for you.

The Best Card Counting Systems

It's necessary to remember that blackjack is a game of chance and that your ability to gain an edge over other players will depend on factors outside your control. Below are some blackjack card counting systems you can familiarise yourself with:

  • The Hi-Lo Count

  • The Ace-Five Count

  • The K-O Counting System

  • The Red 7 Counting Method

  • The Omega II Count System

The Hi-Lo Count

This is a strategy that is commonly used by both amateur players as well as those more experienced. Here, tens and aces are counted as -1, while 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s, and 7s are counted as +1.

The Ace-Five Count

This particular counting system is considered the simplest because it involves only two cards; aces as -1 and 5s as +1. To make the most of the Ace-Five counting strategy, ensure you use the big betting spread. This implies that any time the count has a positive value, you should double the size of your previous wager.

The K-O Counting System

Players who don't want to change the running count into a true count can make use of this system when playing multiple-deck blackjack games. In this strategy, the assigned values 8s and 9s are 0; 2s to 7s are assigned +1; and 10s to aces are -1.

The Red 7 Counting Method

Like the K-O system, Red 7 card counting also eliminates the need to convert your running count into a true count. Here, you count only the red 7s but never the black ones.

The Omega II Count System

Using this strategy requires you to make a side count for aces and count 10s and 9s as your main count. The Omega II count is a two-level system, where 9s are worth a value of -1 and the 10s are worth -2. Furthermore, half of the low cards are assigned a value of +1, while the other half are +2.

There are several more card counting variations that have been devised by different people, so it comes down to you choosing what will work best for you. If you're not very adept at keeping things to memory, we suggest using the Ace-Five counting strategy.

Tips On How to Count Cards in Blackjack

Knowing how to count cards using any of the counting systems is your first step to improving your overall gameplay. In addition to this, there are certain things you can do to get better results from counting cards in blackjack, and we've put some of them together to guide you when playing blackjack at real money casinos.

Bankroll Management

Having the perfect strategy at your fingertips and incorporating the right counting skills in your game, may not be enough to prevent you from losing money in the short term. Having a bankroll and managing it properly plays a crucial role in allowing you to limit these losses. Before placing your bets, ensure you rely on actual statistics that can help you gain an advantage over the house. It's also important to never chase losses whenever you find yourself on a losing streak. Have a budget from the start and do well to stick to it.

Understand the Rules

Your ultimate success in a game of blackjack is most dependent on how well you have mastered the rules of the game. Some of these rules include the insurance paying 2:1, the dealer standing on 17, or blackjack hands paying 3:2. You should also take note of how often a particular game will allow you to split cards or double down on all hands. Knowing the number of decks being used in the game is also something to note, and if not visible on the table, you can check the outline for that particular variation of blackjack you'll be playing.

Observe the Table Configuration

You must find out in advance how often the deck gets shuffled or how often the shoe gets changed. You need time to achieve a solid count because card counting is less effective when the shoe gets replaced every few hands, or when the cards are shuffled too frequently. Another thing to check for is the betting limits placed on the game. You should avoid tables that won't allow you to start betting small or place big wagers when it will be beneficial.

Learn the Basics and Always Practice

Always remember that the goal of counting cards is lowering the house edge or eliminating it if possible. Blackjack strategy charts are a great way to familiarise yourself with the available data before getting into the count. The next thing you should do after learning the basics is to practise. The saying that practice makes perfect is no myth, and practising your card counting skills as often as possible will inevitably make you better at it.

Responsible Gambling Tips

Playing blackjack at online real money casinos can be a very thrilling and exciting experience that could get in the way of your daily activities. The tendency to develop problems with gambling is a subject of numerous studies, which have all concluded the importance of adhering to responsible gambling policies.

It helps to be intentional about these issues because the most important resource is yourself. Being aware of your behaviour and ensuring you're in control can help you reduce or even eliminate any problem gambling issues that may arise. The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) is set up to assist players and has put certain tools in place to minimise the risks posed by gambling.

Players should ensure they're only playing at regulated casinos to take advantage of RG tools. Some of these resources include:

  • Deposit limits

  • Loss limits

  • Self-exclusion

  • Time-outs

  • Self-assessment checks

  • Reality checks


Card counting in blackjack has been a subject of much debate for a long time, but it remains largely legal. However, you should know that online casinos are privately owned establishments that reserve the right to disqualify/prevent you from playing if your card-counting strategy is discovered. To avoid any such issues, ensure you make your counting as discreet as possible by not drawing too much attention to yourself.