What do the top Blackjack players have in common? First and foremost, they’re amazing at math. Secondly, they’re mostly unknown. While there are some famous international card counters like Hollywood Dave Stann, the majority of the top Blackjack players go unnoticed. After all, being well-known means that casinos may end up banning you from the tables.
But it’s not just being great at math and the ability to go unnoticed that makes for a champion Blackjack player. It’s about employing smart card counting strategies to take control of the tables and build your chip stack higher and higher.
Today, we’re digging deep to bring you three major Blackjack strategies employed by today’s top Blackjack professionals. We’re introducing them from least complex to most complex, though there are relatively easy to master if you practice. Enjoy.
The Hi-Lo Method
The most basic card counting method, the Hi-Lo Blackjack system is probably one of the best Blackjack strategies you should attempt to employ if you’re only starting out on the card counting scene.
The method was introduced in the 1960s and works best with a single deck shoe. In this method, every card in the deck has one of three values:
- Cards 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 = +1
- 7, 8, 9 = 0
- 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace = -1
With a fresh deck, start your count at 0. When each card hits the table, add or subtract the numbers based on what hits the felt. So, for example, if the first card is a 2, add one. If the next card is a 6, add one more. If the next card is a 10, subtract one. Your count is now +1.
As the count climbs, so do your chances of hitting a Blackjack. That means if your count is at +8, you could very well hit a Blackjack, so it’s wise to increase your bets. As the count drops, you’re in a bit of a betting danger. In this case, it’s best to lower your bet.
It should be noted that counting is not illegal in the state of Nevada, nor is it against the law in other major jurisdictions. However, if a casino suspects you’re counting cards and employing the Hi-Lo Blackjack card counting method, you’ll be asked to leave.
And while it’s not technically illegal to count cards using your brain, you’re breaking the law if you employ the aid of a computer system or a machine. So leave your iPhone in your pocket and refrain from developing some sort of hidden card counting system that may or may not involve your footwear.
The Hi Opt 1 Method
While the Hi-Lo system is great if you’re playing single deck Blackjack, you need to modify your technique if you’re playing multi-deck Blackjack. And at most Las Vegas casinos (not to mention online casinos like Silver Oak Casino), a 6 to 8-deck shoe is the norm.
That’s where the Hi Opt 1 Card Point Value system comes into place. This pro card counting method is quite similar to the Hi-Lo system, with some exceptions:
- Cards 3, 4, 5, 6 = +1
- A, 2, 7, 8, 9 = 0
- 10, Jack, Queen, King = -1
See the difference? In this method, two are worth 0 points toward the count instead of +1. And Aces are now valued at 0 instead of -1.
And there’s more. While you don’t have to alter your count when an Ace drops, you do need to keep track of how many Aces hit the felt so you can alter your count. Plus, you need to keep track of how many decks are left in the shoe. This sounds a bit complex, but it’s relatively easy.
First, find out how many decks are in the shoe. The dealer should be able to tell you, plus it’s usually printed on the rules card. Let’s say there 6 decks in the shoe to start. Every time 52 cards hit the felt, that represents one deck removed from the shoe (remember, there are 52 cards in a deck). Start your deck count at 6, and every time 52 cards drop, subtract one.
With that number in mind, take your running count and divide it by the number of decks left in the shoe. For example, if your running count is +8 (that’s the number you’ve been keeping track of as each card dropped and subtracted 1, added 1, or remained the same) and your deck count is 4 (that’s the number of decks left in the shoe), your new count is +2.
The Wong Halves Method
If you’ve mastered both of the first two card counting methods, it’s time to get serious with Wong Halves. This method is just like the ones you just learned, except it assigns some cards with half values, as follows:
- 2 =+0.5
- 3 =+1
- 4 = +1
- 5= +1.5
- 6 = +1
- 7 = +0.5
- 8 = 0
- 9 = – 0.5
- 10 = -1
- A = -1
Half points are way harder to keep track of than full points, so this shouldn’t be attempted by the faint of heart, or the mathematically challenged.
Practice these methods online
If you want to put these strategies to the test, your best bet is to play live Blackjack. But online Blackjack also has its role. While you can’t make money using card counting at online Blackjack tables (remember, the cards are essentially continuously shuffle), you can definitely practice these methods and hone your card counting skills. After all, these strategies are about mastering quick addition and subtraction while optimizing your concentration levels.
You can get started now at Silver Oak Casino Casino for free. Just spend a few minutes setting up an account and you’ll be good to go. And don’t worry. It doesn’t have to cost you anything. You can play as much free Blackjack as you can handle, all without risking a dime. When you are ready to play for real, go ahead and make a deposit. The same account gets you access to the real money tables.