Lesson 2B : Counting Cards - How To Do It?!
the gamemaster's blackjack school
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By now you've chosen a counting system that you want to learn and even though it may be different than the Hi / Lo
Count which I'm going to discuss here, the methods used to learn it are the same. Just make adjustments where
appropriate and you'll do fine, but if you are confused or don't understand something, then e-mail me.
The Hi / Lo counting system assigns a "point" value to each type of card in a deck. The
first step in card counting is to memorize those values. Here they are
- Point Value
A bit of simple math will show you that there are, in a complete deck, an equal number of
"plus"-valued cards and "minus"-valued cards. This is called a "balanced" count and since all cards are valued
either 1 or 0, this is also a "single-level" count.
The Power of Card Counting
The Hi / Lo count recognizes that the cards 2 through 6 are of greatest value to the
dealer, since these cards turn the dealer's "stiff" hands (12 - 16) which s/he must hit into good hands. For
example, a 5 turns a dealer's 12-16 into 17-21, consequently it is the most important card for a dealer. On the
other hand, an Ace is most important to a player, since it's the key component to a "blackjack" which pays 3 to 2.
So, as "little" cards are played, they are no longer available to the dealer and since there are an equal number of
plus- and minus-valued cards in the deck, a "plus" count tells us that there are a higher proportion of tens and
aces left in the unplayed portion of the deck. This situation is favorable for the player since the chances for a
blackjack have increased and doubling or splitting situations stand a better chance of receiving a high
O f course, a dealer has the same chance of receiving high cards as you. But remember that
the dealer does not receive 3 to 2 for a blackjack, may not double or split and must hit 16 or less. Also, as you
will learn in a later lesson, knowing the proportion of 10-valued cards in the decks gives you the knowledge to
make profitable insurance bets.
Learning The Point Values
This is the only exercise you will ever need to learn the point values of your counting
system. It's the one I use when I'm switching counts for a single-deck game or back again to the one I use for
multi-deck games. Just take a deck of cards and begin turning them over one at a time and recite the point value of
each card. If a card is a plus-value, I don't say "Plus 1"; I just say "one", because it implies "plus" anyway. If
a card is a minus-value, I say "M 1", not "minus 1" because it saves a syllable. For the "neutral" or zero-value
cards, I say nothing -- they are completely ignored for counting purposes with the Hi / Lo system. So, how does
this look? Here's a quick example :