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Blackjack Card Counting

To Count or Not to Count?

Do you know which style of play best suits you when it comes to blackjack? If you are unsure, here are a few facts to help you decide.

The ability of a player to determine how many cards with a value of 10 are left remaining in a deck or shoe of cards. This is how blackjack card counting is defined. To achieve this ability card counters use many different formulas. It may sound impossibly difficult but basically all formulas assign a numerical value to each card in the deck. Specific card denominations are assigned a value, - positive values are assigned to small cards played, and negative values are assigned to high cards played. The value of a deck that is completely counted is zero. This is possible because the total value of all positive cards equals the total value of all minus cards. One such system, the Advance Point Count developed by Ken Uston, is used in this article.

You should set your goal when learning to count cards at 25 seconds or less. You will need to count down a deck and maintain a side count of aces at the same time in the stated goal above to consider yourself a card counter. It will take hours and hours of practice to become proficient with one deck. Also keep in mind that in most casinos you will have six to eight decks to contend with, which makes accuracy very difficult. You will want to make quite certain that you proficient at using a blackjack card counting formula before you consider yourself a card counter.

To be able to support negative swings card counters require a huge bankroll. You will need to account for negative swings which are required in order to vary the bets when the deck becomes rich in positive-value cards. The bankroll needed will depend on the system that you are using. Using the Advance Point Count system as a guide, at a minimum you would need a bankroll that is 400 times the table’s minimum. This means that a $25 table will require a bankroll of $10 000. Using a 10 unit fluctuation with an average bet of $100 playing 100 hands per hour, you will have put $10 000 of action into play.

A large bankroll isn’t the only consideration when blackjack card counting. Time is also an important factor to consider. Playing one on one against the dealer, you can on average, except to play about 100 hands per hour. For every player that joins the table this drops by five hands. So if you are playing at a full table you can expect to play about 70 hands per hour. For a professional card counter, time doesn’t matter. There are there for the long haul, but for the vast majority or players, time could be an issue.

A casino’s worst nightmare is a skilled card counter. The math does work in favor of the player, and because of this the casinos take any action they can to thwart a counter if they spot one. In New Jersey, cards may be shuffled after every hand, and in Vegas they can just ask you to leave, which leaves the counter looking for new casinos on a regular basis.

Not counting cards has it pluses and minuses, as well. Just as the card counter has a system, so too should the non-card counter. He must have a plan before starting his play and stick to it. Several non-card counting systems, techniques and formulas exist, but in essence each system should have a plan for bankroll, basic strategy, money management, trend assessment and discipline. If any system does not account for the above mentioned items then the non-counter really does not have a chance to win as consistently as a counter would.

The bankroll for the non counter is significantly smaller than that required by a counter, which is good news. The bankroll can be smaller because the non-counter is not looking to specifically place high bets when the deck gets rich. The non-counter should be looking to get ahead by taking it slow and steady. Ultimately following erratic betting methods, such as following hunches and whims, will lead to ruin. This is why it is important that the non-counter has a plan and that they stick to the plan without fail.

A non-counter will not win as much or as often as the card counter. However the amount of time and money invested in order to be a consistent winner are significantly less.

There are some important elements to consider when deciding whether you are going to count cards or not. First you need to determine if blackjack is going to be a hobby or a career? How much work are you willing to invest into gambling at any given time? Do you have a little extra or a large sum of money available? Do not mix counting and non-counting systems. You have to pick one and stick to it. Using this information you can make an educated choice as to which system suits you and that you are never going to enter a casino again without a plan of action.

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