Card counting tips

A shoe rich in aces and ten point cards is said to be good for the player and bad for the dealer, but why? Take a look at the blackjack card counting tips below and you will understand.

  • Part of the answer has to do with pay-outs. A blackjack consists of ace + ten point card. When a player gets a blackjack, he is paid 3:2 (unless the dealer also gets a blackjack). From the players perspective, winning with a blackjack is therefore better than winning with anything else. When the dealer gets a blackjack, she will take the player’s bet – just like she would do if she won with 20 or 17 or because the player went bust. Winning with a blackjack is therefore no more beneficial for the dealer than winning with something else. That is why a “blackjack prone” shoe is considered better for the player than for the dealer.
  • Players can freely decide whether to hit or stay, while a dealer is bound by strict rules. With a shoe rich in ten point cards a player can therefore chose to stay on 12 and hope for the dealer to go bust. The dealer can on the other hand not stay on 12, 13 or even 16 – she must hit on 16 and stay at 17 no matter the circumstances. With a shoe rich in ten point cards she is quite likely to go bust when she hits on 12 and upwards.
  • Player’s are allowed to double their bet after seeing their first two cards. If you know that the shoe is rich in ten point cards and/or aces, you can use this knowledge to double your wager in suitable situations, e.g. when your first two cards equal 9 or 10 points. The dealer does not have this opportunity.
  • Many casinos will sell insurance when the dealer’s first card is an ace, and offer your even money on your blackjack. Normally, insurance and even money should be avoided like the plague, but if you know for a fact that the shoe is rich in tens the situation is different and it may be a good idea to insure or accept even money. The dealer doesn’t have these options and can therefore not take advantage of the situation.

Bonus tips!

Be discrete when counting cards. Even though card counting is legal, casinos are known to evict and bar casino guests suspected of counting cards. If you sit at a table and play basic blackjack strategy with minimum bets for a long period of time and then suddenly change your strategy completely when the shoe begins to get empty, the dealer will notice and may alert the floor person. Try to mix up your play while you wait, e.g. by accepting insurance even though you know it’s not a good idea and by sometimes making more than the minimum bet. Really successful card counters often work in teams to further confuse dealers and floor personnel.