Blackjack or twenty-one, as it is also known, is one of the most popular games of chance of all time. Its origin is so old that it is really unknown, but since its invention it has not stopped playing, is one of the compulsory games in conventional casinos and online, and even, it is very practiced equally by all those who have a deck of cards and want to have a nice and fun time with friends anywhere.

From its creation to the present days, there are several changes that the basic game suffered. This is because, in the first part of the twentieth century, the game was only a means of entertainment that served to earn money simultaneously. But already in the second part of the same century, some students of mathematics observed that the measures in the game when the cards of the assigned hands were combined, affected the rent in a surprising way.

In this way, Professor O. Thorp, who was an adept of the game, presented what is known as card counting, which achieved a great reputation. This is because it gave Blackjack players a tactic that allowed them to get more or less secure earnings. In this sense, this will be the subject that will be discussed next, where everything related to card counting will be explained briefly and clearly.

Counting cards in Blackjack

In Blackjack card counting is used to stipulate when the player can have an advantage in front of the house. This is done by looking for the relationship between the low and high decks, the desired result being higher high cards. Since the purpose of Blackjack is to approach 21 as much as possible, the more high cards in the deck, the more likely it is that the dealer will break or the player will get natural. However, it is important to mention that the card counting in Blackjack really is an art, that requires precision and enough lapses of practice.

Counting history in Blackjack

The card counting began in 1962 when Dr. Edward O. Thorp published his book Beat the Dealer. It soon came to be seen as the bible of Blackjack players. Despite its effectiveness, several of those strategies created by the mathematician to count cards, is no longer valid, because the casinos took precautions to cancel them.

However, that year was only the rise of the strategy, since this was a method previously applied by other characters such as Joe Bernstein and Jess Marcum to have advantages over the casino. In this way in the year 1957, the four horsemen, who were Herbert Maisel, Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Canteny and James McDermott, created a procedure of card counting that only needed a basic mechanical calculator. Also, Ken Uston was the first to put on paper the forms of card counting in a book that was titled Big Player Team and that was launched in the ’70s. This text defines the period that the author was as a member of the letter counting group of Al Francesco. In this way, Uston became the most famous card counter, due to many more related scripts and numerous appearances in television programs

While the Blackjack counting groups became more publicized, many card counters became more active in the action. So among the most recognized ringleaders of such teams include Ken Uston, Al Francesco and Tommy Hyland. Although perhaps the most famous, it was the MIT Blackjack team, which gained fame in Ben Mezrich’s book “Bringing the House.”

Although tactics and strategies for counting cards have become more refined, casinos have similarly used modern methods to detect players and ban them, so this is a battle that continues as time progresses.

How is card counting done?

To begin with, it is necessary to clarify that what is said about the fact that players keep track of some specific cards is just a myth. Since the specialists in card counting give a value to each letter they notice put into play. For this reason, a card counter does not necessarily have to be a mathematical genius to master the art.

In this sense, the values usually take the form of 0, -1 or +1. An example would be the Hi-Lo system, where any letter that changes from 2 to 6 is counted as a +1. On the other hand, the decks from 7 to 9 become zero, and the tens using the aces correspond to -1. In this way, each time the card counter sees a card, it adds or subtracts a number supported by said information. It is important to mention that there are other counting systems, but this is one of the most accurate.

On the other hand, when the present count is positive, the player intends to increase the bet. This is because there are more high cards left in the deck. While when the count turns out to be negative, the player will seek to reduce the bet, because the chances of achieving a natural result are much lower. In this sense, if a card counting procedure is used with a deck of 52 complete cards and this ends in 0, the system will be in equilibrium. Also, if the count turns out to be greater or less than zero, the system is unbalanced.

There are also more modern Blackjack counting systems, in which values such as -2 or +2 can be given to the deck cards. Thus, many think that such modern systems optimize the accuracy of card counting, while others indicate that additional numbers are a distraction. For such a reason, the person who wants to count cards must experiment to find the method that best suits them.

Casino strategies

They have seen the need to spend a large sum of money to try to thwart the card counting. Among the casino tactics can be named following:

  • Identification of the experts in card counting. Once the experienced card counters are detected, they proceed to request the abandonment of the facilities immediately.
  • Prevent the player from modifying the amount of his bet while a shoe is on.
  • Modification of the table stakes. The casino, in the same way, can be inclined to vary the rules of the game in relation to the many hands, doubling and splitting.
  • Shuffle more frequently. The dealer can mix the cards when the mysterious person counting cards increase the bet. Obviously, this means that the rest of the players will collect fewer hands per hour, so the strategy could cost the casinos money later on.
  • Maybe this is one of the favorite methods of the casinos. This is because it is something as peaceful as talking to the player to break the concentration.
  • Increase the number of covers that are being treated. This is due to the fact that the greater the covers that exist, the more difficult it will be to make use of the Blackjack card count.
  • Casino workers must observe players who are suspicious through the cameras, which are known as “Eye in the sky.”
  • Implementation of scanners and software at the Blackjack table. These will scan each of the cards in a game. Also, on many occasions, said the program will even recommend that the distributor reestablish the deck to hinder a possible advantage for the player.

Earnings obtained by counting cards

A regular player who gets involved in card counting can undoubtedly have an advantage of plus or minus 1% against the casino. In this way, if you participate in a table where the bet model is $100, the advantage is translated into $1 for each hand. In this sense, a huge and considerable benefit can be obtained when implementing card counting, however, it is something that deserves the player to be patient and persistent.