## HOW TO COUNT CARDS

**Editor's Note: Rufus S. ('17)**explains how to count cards.Black Jack is a fairly basic card game played with one to eight standard 52-card decks. Cards 2-10 are worth their face value. Kings, queens, and jacks are worth 10, and aces can be worth 1 or 11 depending on how the holder judges the situation. The object of the game is to come closer to 21 than the dealer, without going over. The perfect total is achieving 21 with two cards, a jack and an ace for example. If your total is too low you may choose to “hit”, where you will receive another card from the deck. You may hit as many times as you like, until you “bust” (go over 21). If you do not want to hit you may “stand” and receive no cards. There are also some additional strategies that can help once you’ve got the basics down. You may also “double down”, where you receive one more card and also double your bet. This is usually only done when your hand amounts to 11. Another strategy, “splitting”, is done when you are dealt two cards of the same value. By splitting you essentially create two hands, each based of one of your starting cards.

Casinos make money off people because the odds of the dealer or “the house” winning are slightly higher than the odds of the players winning. Casinos have a built in advantage, as the odds are stacked in their favor. This is called the “house edge”, and in black jack the house edge is about 0.5%. This means that in the long run the house will always collect more money than it loses. Although some players may leave a casino having won money the house always receives a positive net gain.

Counting cards is a way of using the odds in your advantage so that you may beat the house. In order to accurately explain how to count cards I will show a step by step process.

Step 1 : Assign a value to the cards

Step 2 : The running count

Casinos make money off people because the odds of the dealer or “the house” winning are slightly higher than the odds of the players winning. Casinos have a built in advantage, as the odds are stacked in their favor. This is called the “house edge”, and in black jack the house edge is about 0.5%. This means that in the long run the house will always collect more money than it loses. Although some players may leave a casino having won money the house always receives a positive net gain.

Counting cards is a way of using the odds in your advantage so that you may beat the house. In order to accurately explain how to count cards I will show a step by step process.

Step 1 : Assign a value to the cards

- There are many different counting systems that people use but the most common, and generally the most efficient one is called “Hi-Lo”.
- When using Hi-Lo you must assign a value to every card you can see.
- Cards 2 - 6 are given the value +1; 7 - 9 are given the value 0; and 10 - ace are given the value -1

Step 2 : The running count

- As each card is dealt, you must update your “running count”.
- Here are two example (taken from blackjackapprentice.com http://www.blackjackapprenticeship.com/resources/how-to-count-cards/)

Step 3 : True count

Step 4 : How to bet

Why does card counting work you may ask? Card counting is based on the fact that there are more cards with a value of 10 than any other card in the deck. Thus when the count is higher, and there are more 10’s and aces left in the deck and so the player has a higher chance of being dealt more of these cards, leading to getting a final value of 20 or 21. This also means that when there are more high cards left in the deck there is a larger chance of the dealer busting. For every one integer the running count moves in a positive direction the players chances go up by approximately 0.5%, for every one integer the running count moves higher in a negative direction the player’s chance of winning go down by 0.5%. This method of card counting is optimized for long term betting, so if it looks like you are loosing in the beginning keep playing and you will probably come out on top.

- When multiple decks are being used we must use a special equation
- True count = running count/ decks remaining
- So if our running count is 10 and we have 5 decks yet to be used or true count is +2.

Step 4 : How to bet

- The final step in counting cards is changing your bets based on your running count.
- Counting cards doesn’t change the way you play the game, just the way you bet.
- You want to bet more money when the running count is high (the cards are in your favor), and bet less money or no money when the count is negative or neutral (the cards aren’t in your favor).

Why does card counting work you may ask? Card counting is based on the fact that there are more cards with a value of 10 than any other card in the deck. Thus when the count is higher, and there are more 10’s and aces left in the deck and so the player has a higher chance of being dealt more of these cards, leading to getting a final value of 20 or 21. This also means that when there are more high cards left in the deck there is a larger chance of the dealer busting. For every one integer the running count moves in a positive direction the players chances go up by approximately 0.5%, for every one integer the running count moves higher in a negative direction the player’s chance of winning go down by 0.5%. This method of card counting is optimized for long term betting, so if it looks like you are loosing in the beginning keep playing and you will probably come out on top.