Does Blackjack Card Counting Work in Online Casinos?

While Playing blackjack games at a live or online casino, the dealer who “deals” the cards is your opponent, and though there are several variations, the standard blackjack game has simple rules – The player will play the game and aims at having his card total summing up to 21, which is called a ‘blackjack’ or a ‘natural’, without exceeding. Any card in the deck carries points corresponding to their face value to be their points, while any card like, the jack, king, and queen (also called royals), without a face value are assigned 10 points. Only the ace is assigned two values, 1 or 11. In blackjack, the shuffling of the decks may be witnessed by a player solely when the game begins.

Important Facts to Know About Card Counting
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  • Card Counting is a beneficial skill for blackjack

  • Counting your cards isn’t illegal

  • It is more effective at live casino

  • Card counting does not require special mathematical skill

Card Counting as an Advanced Blackjack Playing Strategy

Players with an exceptional memory can mentally mark every card they see in a blackjack game dealt hand after hand, and then deduct the amount remaining in the deck, this includes ones already dealt. Based on this, players can determine when to bet low or high, for example, when for a period, small cards alone have been revealed, it’s very likely the next hand will be Royals, so such a time may be perfect to bet high. Before we jump into the actual card counting process, we should understand how it actually works. Each card in the deck has a certain value and our goal is to know when the deck is stacked with high cards such as kings, jacks, aces and queens. In such cases, the player's chances of winning the hand increase. On the other hand, no blackjack strategy can help you actually win if the deck is stacked with very low cards.

The reason why this is the case is because when many high cards are left in the deck, our chances of making a blackjack or getting a high hand like 19 or 20 is very high. It is truth that dealer's chances also increase, but if we get a blackjack we are paid right away, regardless of the dealer's holdings. Additionally, dealers are obligated to draw or stand at certain points and in such cases they may be forced into drawing a large card and busing. This means we can stand with lower hands and often get really big hands right off the bat, making it possible to beat the house.

Basic Strategies of Card Counting

The essence of blackjack card counting is to find out the effect of every card being drawn on the odds of the sort which is left in the mix. In the live casino, after each hand has been played in a blackjack at the table, the dealer places any used card in the discard tray, and the remaining ones are used for the subsequent hands to be played. This is done till the dealer reshuffles the deck (usually when the deck is halfway gone, or three-fourths of the deck has been spent). As stated earlier, what the player watches out for are the 10-value cards and this can be done using the odds, which can be deduced by the player through monitoring the cards which have been dealt already, or by tagging them to make sound calculations and play a good game.

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Tagging the Cards

A tag of +1 is assigned to the small cards (2-6), these ones are advantageous to the dealer; a tag of -1 is assigned to the large cards (10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace), these ones are advantageous to the players; and a tag of 0 is assigned to the remaining cards - 7, 8, and 9. This is the system used by the most popular system of counting cards, Hi-Low. The tags are added up by the player as their respective cards are being dealt. At the beginning of the count and after every shuffle, the player starts at 0, and depending on the value of the cards being dealt and their tag value, the total running count moves from negative to positive and even zero sometimes. The running count ends up at a negative or positive value at the end of each round. Take for instance that the player saw the following: 10 (-1), 9 (0), 2 (+1), King (-1), Ace (-1), and Jack (-1) drawn by the dealer in the first hand, the total running count would thus be -3 after their respective tag values (in brackets) have been added together.

In a case like ours where the running count has a negative value, it is indicative of smaller cards being present in the cards remaining in the deck, this means that the player is in a less favourable position than the dealer as the probability of picking a smaller card is higher than picking a royal, and in such a situation the player should lower his bet. When the running count ends up being positive, on the other hand, it is time to raise our bets because the deck is now stacked with the high cards that give us an advantage. Card counting is a fairly simple system that allows us to track the running count of the deck and in this way gain our edge. While many casinos try to counter any card counters by introducing deeper shoes, some still play with few decks at a time and make it possible to make a counting strategy viable.

Tagging cards is quite simple and most tracking systems use the markers +1, -1 and 0. In this case, all cards up to a six receive a +1 tag, all sevens, eights and nines receive a 0 tag while all face cards and all aces will get a -1 tag.

The process itself is quite simple. Every time a dealer puts out any card, the player should add corresponding tags to the running count. As the running count keeps changing, the player needs to keep track and quickly add up the tags. This can be hard at first, but with a little practice it becomes quite automatic. At one point, when the deck is stacked with high cards, the player needs to increase the bets and start going for the big wins. On the other hand, if the deck is such that there are many small cards in it, the player should continue betting small and waiting for the count to get more favorable.

While many people seem to think that counting cards is very hard and that only people with photographic memory and geniuses can do it, this is not quite true. Despite what the movies may have you thinking, card counting relies on some pretty basic math and a little bit of focus that pretty much any intelligent person can master in a reasonable timeframe.

Card Counting in Blackjack, Illegal or not?

There is always also the question of legality when it comes to card counting. The fact is that card counting is completely legal and no person has ever been charged with doing it, partially because it is impossible to prove, no external gadgets are used and players are only using their brains to get an edge. Of course, all live casinos being private establishments, they always have the full right to ban you from playing any particular game or to ban you from their premises altogether, in which case you will not be able to play but will not get charged in any way either. Also, don't worry about what you saw in the movies, no one is going to take you to any back room or beat you up.

If you are looking to try card counting in a real casino environment, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Working in a group is better than going at it solo, because increasing your bets all of a sudden can be suspicious to the casino staff. Also, it is smart to stay humble and not go for too big of a bet, since this too can draw attention. As long as you play for reasonable stakes and at a casino that does not have extremely good surveillance, you are likely to be able to count for as long as you want without anyone noticing or caring.

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Card Counting for Live Blackjack at Online Casinos

Considering all that’s been stated about blackjack card counting in the casino, from the conditions necessary to pull such off, and keeping in mind that certain casinos do not like the idea of blackjack card counting as a result of the dangerous effect it could have on their profits, It’s not difficult to understand that trying to count cards at an online casino is going to be difficult, and almost impossible. This is because, unlike the land-based casinos, the online casino has a computer software program for a dealer. This computer program is set to randomly dish out cards, and in some sense it’s almost like the deck being reshuffled every time so that the odds are not as stable as they should be. It’s almost like online casinos were designed to combat this wonderful strategy! If you prefer to try whether it’s possible to count cards for online casinos, you can check our online Casino comparison page which offers you various online casinos which provide blackjack and other classic casino games and slots.

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Conclusion:
Should You Count your Cards?


Card counting is a very powerful skill that could tremendously increase the winning of any punter that masters the art. It is a delicate system that involves the use of the player’s memory, tags, and a good dedication to counting using the allocated tags. It also involves the player taking note of how cards are left in the deck, and when next the dealer is going to reshuffle. Since some of these requirements are quite restricted in an online casino, card counting is a strategy frowned on by experts for blackjack at online casinos. However, it’s a skill used by some blackjack pros to beat down the house edge, so it’s up to you to decide if you want to use some extra mental strength in winning.
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