How to Count Cards in BlackJack - Card Counting

How to Count Cards in BlackJack - Card Counting


First of all we explain the basic logic to win at BlackJack with card counting : counting cards is used to make you understand when there are more chances of winning and therefore when it would be advisable to bet higher .

This is the main reason why hundreds of books have been written on the best gaming strategies for BlackJack , and among the many present, the technique that is considered in the opinion of all as the one with the greatest certainty of success and therefore the best. , it is precisely that of blackjack card counting ; even if it must be said that it is not an easy methodology to implement .

However, if you are able to count cards in blackjack , you immediately gain a significant mathematical advantage over the dealer, thus increasing your chances of winning.

This operation itself is quite difficult, first because it requires a lot of memory on your part, second because it is very demanding to learn, but we will make it easier for you with our special guide on card counting.

Memorizing the cards is possible, although it is a rather difficult task to put into practice, as you have to remember which cards have already come out and which are still in the deck, so remembering individual cards can be a problem .

This problem is partially circumvented, while remaining very complex but achievable, by mentally dividing the cards into two large groups ; high cards and low cards , thus adjusting accordingly, being able to calculate the probability with which the card will come out of the deck, high or low.

Very trivially , knowing that many more low cards have come out than high ones and remembering that few aces have come out, it is convenient to raise the bets, as:

  • The dealer is more likely to bust
  • You will have a better chance of playing blackjack
  • You will have a better chance of having good hands (10 - 10 for example) and being able to win with doubles


Learning to count cards is not a walk in the park, you need a lot of practice, memory and a good counting system, so arm yourself with goodwill and keep reading.

First of all, keep in mind that it is not humanly possible to count every single card in BlackJack. You therefore need a system that is solid and reliable, but above all a little simpler and faster and within everyone's reach! There is no need for out-of-the-ordinary intelligence or out-of-the-ordinary mental abilities, with a little training you will see that you too can learn your favorite card counting system .

Training is essential , repeating the count thousands of times is the only solution to get to have the skills of true counting. Sweat, patience and a lot of practice are the solutions. Unfortunately, it is not enough to read and understand, but more must be done, as if it were a sport practiced at a competitive level.

Blackjack count cards

On this page you are about to discover some information that is worth gold ! Follow the instructions carefully and try to apply them in blackjack to count cards . Remember that card counting in online blackjack is impossible - the game software shuffles the deck every hand.

Counting cards in blackjack in land-based casinos and counting cards in live blackjack is possible . It takes patience, training and perseverance: anyone can do it.

If you are a fan of card games and in particular of Blackjack, most likely you have already searched over and over again if there are miraculous systems and tricks to break the casino. We at are about to give you a disappointment: you didn't find them for the simple reason that…. they don't exist .

But be careful , all is not lost, magic tricks do not exist, but strategies and systems that can help you a lot to increase the chances of achieving victory. Among the methods that reduce the intrinsic advantage of the house by a lot and can turn the tide of the game in your favor, one of the most famous is blackjack card counting , through different methodologies.


The Hi-Lo system is certainly a good method for counting cards and is the basis of all the most advanced and complicated counting systems, so this system is considered by all to be the best way to start.

In this type of counting, as for all the other systems that follow it, a negative, positive or zero value is assigned depending on the value of the card and when the card of a certain face value is distributed, it will automatically be associated with this score, divided into three groups.

But let's take a practical example that makes the idea better than any other explanation and let's see how to count all the cards that will pass on the table, both yours and the dealer's:

  • Each card from 2 to 6 add +1 to your tally
  • Each card from 7 to 9 is worth 0, so they are cards of no value
  • Any ace or card worth 10 subtract -1 from your tally.

In summary, every time the outgoing card is between 2 and 6, 1 is added to the count, 1 is instead subtracted when an ace or a card worth 10 comes out, while if the outgoing card is a 7 or a 9, it is not nothing is added or subtracted from the current count.

For reference, on the basis of this subdivision, we have that in each deck there are :

  • 20 high cards (-1 count) of which 4 are aces
  • 12 void cards (count +0) which do not affect the count
  • 20 low cards (count +1)

For example, if you are playing at a table with 7 decks, the shoe to be counted will be as follows :

  • 140 high cards (counts -1) of which 28 are aces
  • 84 void cards (counts +0)
  • 140 low cards (counts +1)

The count is updated slowly and as soon as the cards that remain in the "shoe" become few, you can start making your calculations to see how best to play.

It is from this moment on that the fate of your game will be decided: if the card count is high (for example +15 ) it means that there are still high-value cards in the deck and by following the basic strategy you can more easily reach the win and know how to manage better the split and double .

Although conceptually simple, this technique for BlackJack is very effective and is said to have been discovered almost by chance by students of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a major research university based in Cambridge, which allowed them to win all the most important American casinos of the time.

The Hi-Lo system can be easily defined as the main method of card counting , from which all the others derive, as a kind of clones that work with the same methodology, with the difference, however, of assigning a different value to the cards , which it can make the count a little more complicated and bizarre.

Below are all the other card counting strategies.


Card counting in blackjack is the best strategy , but it only works in land based casinos and live blackjack. When playing against software, this strategy does not work simply because the software shuffles the cards with each hand, so there is no point in doing it. Summarizing:

  • In real and live casinos: YES, IT IS CONVENIENT TO COUNT CARDS

Card counting in blackjack is tacitly and strictly prohibited . Even in real casinos if they discover that you are counting cards, they will chase you and you risk being deceived. While in online casinos, they cannot prove that you are counting and they cannot forbid you.


This system is as easy and straightforward as Hi-Lo counting. In practice, one of its embryos and the following ones that we indicate, although it is not the basis of the count but a less complicated alternative than the more famous ones even if less accurate.

The KO system for BlackJack (or Knock Out ) is therefore particularly suitable for all those who enter the world of BlackJack for the first time and have the desire to use a methodology that allows them to have an advantage over the casino since immediately.

When we talk about Knock Out we say that it is an "unbalanced" counting system , which means that, unlike for example the Hi-Lo system, where the result of the total card count will be 0, in the KO system this count will give you the result of +4.

It is a very simple concept: the value assigned to the cards in this case is the following:

  • Each card from 2 to 7 is worth +1 in your tally
  • Cards 8 and 9 have no value and therefore 0;
  • Each ace , figure or card 10 applies a -1 in your count.

As you can see, the value of the cards is almost identical to the Hi-Lo system, but if you read that right there is a small, but substantial, difference: in this system there is the 7 which is worth +1 , unlike the Hi -Lo where that card is worth 0.

For reference, based on the subdivision of the KO system, we have that in each deck there are :

  • 20 high cards (-1 count) of which 4 are aces
  • 8 void cards (count +0) that do not affect the count
  • 24 low cards (count +1)

If you are playing for example at a table with 7 decks, the shoe to be counted will consist of :

  • 140 high cards (counts -1) of which 28 are aces
  • 56 void cards (counts +0)
  • 168 low cards (counts +1)

It is natural to understand how in this case the difficulty is minimal, because the low cards are worth +1 and the high ones -1 with the two in the middle (8 and 9) worth 0. Unfortunately, the ease of counting in this case reduces its effectiveness because it does not take into account the combinations of blackjack, but only the difference between high cards and low cards .


This system takes into account the face cards (worth 10) between the cards in the deck for counting and gives an indicator on the greatest risk we could take on the bet.

In a single deck of cards, consisting of 52 cards, the ratio of the figures to the total of the cards is 3.25. In fact, in a deck there are 16 cards that are worth 10 (10s and face cards) out of a total of 52 cards and therefore the ratio is 3.25 (52/16). In the counting that is carried out, it is only necessary to consider the cards that are worth 10 that come out and based on that to understand if there are in the following hands with more probability that these cards will come out or not. Of course you have to keep track of how many decks there are before the shuffle and on the basis of that understand the cards that are left and therefore the relationship in which you are at this moment.

To do this count you have to be good with the accounts , otherwise it will be difficult to keep up. The certainty is that the initial starting ratio is always 3.25 (regardless of the number of decks) and slowly the cards come out, we need to mentally update this ratio.

The rule to be respected is that if the ratio exceeds 3.25 then our probabilities decrease , if the ratio decreases then our probabilities will increase . All this taking into consideration that the more cards worth 10 there are compared to the total, the more likely there are to make 21 or in any case a number that is close to it. This is easy to understand because if the ratio increases it means that the cards of value 10 decrease with respect to the total and vice versa. The absurd case, to make you understand what is written, is that out of 52 cards 20 "normal" cards come out, so it means that out of 32 cards as many as 16 have a value of 10 so the ratio is 32/16 = 2. On the contrary if 10 cards of value come out 10 means that out of 42 cards left only 6 are worth 10, so the ratio is 42/10 = 4.2

The trick is always to consider the 1: 3 ratio . If a figure on 3 cards comes out then the ratio remains around 3.25 and therefore we are in a situation of uncertainty, while if the cards that are worth 10 come out more than 1 on 3 then the ratio will decrease and the odds will increase.

Take this system as a personal culture and if you apply it always do it with the awareness that, although it is an easy system, it is not a precise or scientific method.

In our opinion it is important to master the face tens system as it is a foundation for understanding card counting in general .


The following ( Hi ghly Opt imum I and II system ), are the two most difficult systems to put into practice, as they are a direct evolution of the Hi-Lo, but developed in such a way as to minimize the statistical errors of this parent count. , which make the latter much more precise and reliable.

Unfortunately it is not very easy to keep track of the cards by assigning them the values ​​that these systems provide, but for completeness we show them and explain them in the best possible way.

Before analyzing the value of the respective cards keep in mind that, when playing blackjack with a single deck, the Hi-Opt I system gives high chances of winning, but you must maintain a level of total attention, as a true professional.

That said, here are the values ​​to be assigned to the cards in the Hi Opt I Strategy:

  • Cards 3 to 6 are worth +1;
  • Cards 2, 7, 8, 9 are worth 0;
  • The 10s and all figures -1.

Then the game begins and consequently your account, called "Running Count" (RC) will start from 0. As the cards come out, add 1 for those between 3 and 6, subtract it in the case of 10 and face cards, while with 2, 7, 8 and 9 do not add or subtract anything because their value is 0.

Subsequently the RC will be divided by the number of decks that we know still remain in the shoe and you will get the real "True Count" count , which will be calculated differently in the case of a single deck game, because in this circumstance the division will turn into a multiplication as you will have to divide by a fraction.

Does it seem complicated to you? Here is a clarifying example.

Assuming your RC is +6 and 1/3 of the deck remains, in this case the TC result will be +18, given by the multiplication of + 6x3, much clearer said so right?

As you have certainly noticed, there are no Aces in the list of card values . This is because in the Hi-Opt I system the axes must be counted separately in a count parallel to the Running Count called "Axis Adjustment" which consists in memorizing the number of axes that will come out and adapt the strategy based on this count.

As always we like practical things, so also in this case we make a practical example that makes the idea better than any other explanation and we do as if you were playing with a single deck of cards.

Of course we all know that there are 4 aces in every deck. Now, if the average tells us that every ace will come out every quarter of the deck, when the first quarter of the deck has already been played without any ace coming out, you can easily deduce that in the remaining ¾ of the deck there will still be all 4 aces. and your chances of winning with a BlackJack will increase, consequently you can add +1 to your Running Count.

In the event that an ace has already come out in the first quarter of the deck the count remains unchanged, however when during the game of the first quarter of the deck of aces 2 have already come out your chances of winning with BlackJack will decrease significantly and you will have to subtract - 1 to account (RC).

As you will certainly have guessed, the example is done with only one deck of cards because the Hi Opt I system is quite complex to practice and should always be used only at tables that use one or at most two decks, no more because with 6 or 8 decks, it becomes almost a "Mission Impossible".

What is the best method for counting aces?

The optimal situation is to be at a table with 7 players, because, when all the players, including the dealer, have made the first hand, about half the deck will have already come out, i.e. 28 cards, so statistically every 2 hands should all come out and 4 the axes.

To keep count of aces in a practical way, most players use chips, as it is the easiest way, otherwise fingers or whatever you want, in case you want to keep everything in mind know that it will not be at all. easy.


Deriving directly from the Hi Opt I system , the Hi-Opt II system is by far the most professional and precise card counting system , but also the most complex and is therefore only recommended for professional players.

The counting system is conceptually the same as the Hi Opt I, therefore also here double counting, "Running Count" and "Adjusting the Aces" , with the difference that with this system the chances of winning still increase, but at the same time also the difficulty of put it into practice, so we recommend in case you get to know your younger brother first.

Let's see in detail the value assigned to the cards in this type of counting:

  • Cards 2, 3, 6 and 7 are worth +1
  • Cards 4 and 5 are worth +2
  • Cards 8, 9 and Ace are worth 0
  • The 10s and figures are worth -2

The substantial difference with the previous system is that in the Hi-Opt II system the values ​​to be assigned to the cards change, varying in fact between +2 and -2 instead of +1 and -1.

Both Hi Opt systems are balanced, so we start with the count from 0 and finally arrive at 0. Otherwise it means that a mistake has been made in counting the cards.

Our dispassionate advice is that: since the Hi-Opt II system is more precise than its minor level, but slightly and gives more possibilities but only if it is mastered perfectly. Due to its difficulty you will first need to familiarize yourself well with the Hi-Opt I system, only then can you start using it.

The following are a series of very advanced systems, as many more variables come into play that make them particularly difficult to learn and put into practice.

This section is therefore intended for all those users who follow us and who are already at an advanced level, but want to refine it further.


The Omega II card counting system is one of the most complex and precise in circulation and requires considerable effort on the part of those who put it into practice. This means: extreme concentration and lots of training.

It is a relatively recent system, as it begins to be talked about in the BlackJack environment in the 90s, but its maximum popularity comes only in 2001, when Bryce Carlson talks about it in his famous book "BlackJack for Blood" .

The Omega II system is, to date, considered one of the most powerful systems for counting cards in BlackJack , but, due to its industriousness, also one of those reserved for a very experienced type of users.

The greatest difficulty is given by the values ​​of the cards to keep in mind, very different from other systems, in fact:

  • Cards 2, 3 and 7 are worth +1
  • Cards 4, 5 and 6 are worth +2
  • Card 9 is worth -1
  • The Figures and 10 apply -2
  • The 8 and Aces are worth 0

As you can see it is very difficult to keep the count of these values, moreover the axes must be counted separately, exactly as it happens for the Hi-Opt I and II systems and also the rules of these systems are the same for the Omega II.

So: "balanced" counting from zero to zero, double counting "Running Count" and "Axis Adjustment", a lot of coolness and concentration.

We therefore recommend a lot of training before trying your hand at such a system, after which you can test your memory and player skills.


Don't be fooled by the title with which we introduced this card counting system , because “simple” means the one a little easier to learn, not among all systems, but in the circle of those considered difficult and professional.

So the Red 7 system could be defined “The easiest of the difficult” and, pun aside, in practice this is a system to be practiced only after having familiarized yourself with the basic systems, much more suitable for the majority of the public.

However, if you know that you belong to that elite of very experienced and professional players, you can start to raise your level of play using this system.

The name of the system should somehow help you to memorize its main characteristic that differentiates it from the others, relating to the value of the cards, especially from card 7 , which takes on a different value depending on its color:

  • The red cards 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are worth +1 ;
  • The cards 10 , the figures and aces are worth -1 ;
  • Cards 8, 9 and 7 black are worth 0 .

The Red 7 system is an “unbalanced” counting method , which means that by counting all the cards in a deck with this system from zero, the result must be 2 and not zero.

We have chosen to include this system among the complexes because, despite being conceptually simple and therefore defined as level 1, putting it into practice presents some significant difficulties, which can only be overcome after having done enough training with more practical systems.

The counting cards in Blackjack with a system such as the Red 7 requires a certain level of mental commitment, because in addition to mentally separate the counting of the axes from the Running Count , it is also appropriate to count separately the 7 out based on the color, which in sometimes it can throw even the most seasoned players off the track.

Maximum attention therefore and a lot of practice, even at home with some decks of cards before thinking about applying it to a real BlackJack table. 


When it comes to systems for counting cards of the highest level, inevitably we end up with a system like the Zen Count one , as it is considered by the greatest exponents of the sector as one of the strongest counting systems ever.

In fact, the Zen Count system represents one of the most advanced strategies available, which however requires a very high level of experience to be mastered and exploited properly.

The card values ​​are divided into five levels:

  • Cards 2, 3, and 7 are worth +1 ;
  • Cards 4, 5, and 6 are worth +2 ;
  • The Aces are worth -1 ;
  • Cards 10 and Figures are worth -2 ;
  • Cards 8 and 9 are worth .

So you understand that not everyone has to keep such a count in mind, which is why the Zen Count system is a level 2 system in all respects and considered the best when it comes to accuracy and results.

It is a "balanced" card counting system , so starting to count all the cards in a deck from zero, you get back to zero at the end and has the advantage of not needing to keep a separate aces account , because they are counted together with the other cards in the deck.

Also this system, like the others mentioned above, needs a lot of gaming experience to be carried out first with systems a little easier to use, only after you have become a skilled player with the other methods can you think of practicing a system like it. Zen Count.

How to train to count cards

It has been several months of attempts and reasoning before realizing that to train yourself to count cards in BlackJack there are 2 main methods and to avoid wasting you unnecessary time, as we did, we will immediately indicate them to you too:

1) Hard training to get ready to count cards

Hard training is very demanding and must be done every day, for a period of 15 days to 3 months. If within this period you still cannot apply the Hi Lo system , then it means that you are not prepared for mnemonic counting.

If you are alone you have to put yourself with a deck of cards on the table, shuffle and turn the cards one by one, in which you will mark the overall score starting from zero. The final result must be zero, otherwise you will be wrong.

Repeat this process at least 2/3 times a day, every day and as fast as possible. At the end of the maximum 3 months you have to take a minute to do the blackjack deck count . The ideal would be to have something noisy or something else that can distract you, which will make the counting as realistic as possible, precisely because in casinos there are so many things that will disturb you.

Warning : you must not move your mouth or have expressions of what he thinks, you must be as natural as possible.

However, this training is advisable to do it in 2 or more people in order to simulate a game table as much as possible.

2) Preparation of ad hoc tables on paper to record the score (to be applied in live casinos ).

Simply, depending on the system you use, for example the Hi Lo system, you have to write on a sheet of paper the three columns with relative card counts, one for +1 , one for 0 and one for -1 .

With a cross or other symbol you have to write down the card that came out in the right column. Each column starts from the top with the count, the important thing that the table is aligned for the rows to understand the length of the column. In fact, after a few annotations you will see on the fly which column has the most annotations and you will understand if the score is high or low and therefore in what stage you are.

If you want to do the right calculation, you should use an excel sheet with the "count numbers" function so that the balance will be automatic.


These are techniques with which you will have a chance to win at the gaming tables, but is it possible to use them nowadays and in the most modern casinos? In general the answer is NO!

It is necessary to make some clarifications in this regard because before trying your hand at any technique it is good that you have a clear understanding of the type of casino you will be dealing with, by doing so you will avoid spending resources on methodologies that may not be useful to you.

In casinos in the area , most of the time it is almost impossible to use them , this is because to apply the strategy of card counting in land-based casinos, you need 4 key figures, namely:

  • The " Back Spotter " who is the player who controls the progress of the games and counts the cards
  • The " Spotter " who is at a table of little importance, making minimum bets, and at the same time saying the bets to be made with the "Gorilla"
  • The " Gorilla " who takes care of making big bets by walking away from the table immediately after winning;
  • the " Big Player " that is the player who had the task of playing the biggest hands at the table after listening to the suggestions of his teammates

As you can see this is a very cumbersome system to put into practice, in addition nowadays traditional casinos use all the systems at their disposal to prevent players in agreement with each other from being able to count the cards released and therefore take advantage in the game. game.

In Live Casinos with webcam dealers , however, this is sometimes feasible,provided that the dealerdoes not shuffle the deck of cards every time, we have happened to find game rooms where the dealer didnot shufflethe cards each hand while others in where the dealer shuffled the deck or decks with each hand.

Saying which casinos have these dealers and which ones don't is difficult, because they change over time and it is information that no one can give you, the best system is to register and verify yourself.

In online casinos to apply the card counting strategy is impossible, because the software shuffles the deck of cards with each hand and then why we should trust a software and not pure probability.

So, as you can see, the systems we have talked about are very effective when learned correctly, but not always applicable to every type of casino, therefore we advise you to carefully choose the casino you want to try your hand at and before embarking on the real challenge do lots of training.


This is a question that many ask themselves: but is it legal to count cards? Is there a regulation or law that prohibits it? We assume that the law may change depending on the country in which the casino is located and that as far as we know there are no written laws prohibiting it .

On the other hand, casinos are against card counting , and doing so is not lawful and not allowed, simply because they don't want to get busted and lose a lot of money. If you have seen the film "21" (based on a true story) you understand how the count is considered illegal, but in the end everything is solved by unofficial ways, but only secondary and under the table.

If you are in a land-based casino anywhere we advise you not to flaunt it around counting cards. Do it, but with discretion.

As for the electronic blackjack of online portals, as we have already said, there is no hope and do not even try to count cards.

If, on the other hand, you play in live casinos then the situation is different. If the cards really seem real to you and not shaped by a computer then you can very well count the cards, maybe bet low on negative hands and go hard when the count tells you that you win. You are behind a monitor, no one sees you and no one notices that you count. But be careful, even in this case the moderation of the winnings and the not attracting attention are always on the agenda.