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Blackjack card counting systems

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Almost as long as there has been Blackjack, there have been card counting systems. Many people have only heard of it in movies, such as the 2008 blackjack movie "21", which was based on the real events of the MIT Blackjack Team. However, Blackjack Card Counting systems are indeed more than just something in a movie, and anyone who wants to put the effort in can learn to do it. You don't even need a degree from MIT.

The real key to counting cards is not just knowing the count, per se. The real key is knowing what the count means and how to take advantage of it. A successful card counter can turn Blackjack from a game with about a 0.5% house advantage (when playing perfect strategy) to a 1% advantage to the player. These may seem like small numbers, but they add up to a significant advantage over a long period of time, especially when played with fairly high stakes.

There are several black jack card counting strategies. The one used in "21" is one method that can be very successful as it uses a team approach, making it harder for casinos to detect it. One player is the spotter, keeping a running count on the table. Once the count gets to a favorable level, the spotter signals another teammate, who joins the table and takes over. This new player will play higher stakes and take advantage of the edge that the players now have.

One of the most commonly used counting methods is known as the Hi-Lo method. This simply assigns a value of -1, 0, or +1 to each card. As the cards are dealt, the player adds up the totals and keeps a running count. In this method, any two through six is worth +1, seven, eight and nine are worth 0, and any ten is worth -1.

There are many variations on the Hi-Lo method, such as the Hi-Opt I, which uses the same count except that twos and Aces are worth 0 and the KO method, which is the same except that seven changes from 0 to +1. There are also more complicated methods like Hi-Opt II, Zen Count and Omega II that are similar, but change some values to + or - 2. Specialists believe this creates a more accurate count. Opponents of these more complicated systems, however, say that because they are slightly more complicated, they take more time, and the advantage they give in a truer count is wiped out by playing fewer hands. This is why many players just prefer to stick to a simple count method and play as many hands as possible.

The higher the count goes, the more of an advantage the player has. This is called a hot deck, because Blackjacks and dealer busts are more likely since high cards are more likely to show up. When a player is playing alone, they take advantage by raising their bets when the deck is hot. Conversely, when the deck is cold, they lower their wagers, minimizing the risk.

Keep in mind that it is impossible to count cards when playing Blackjack online. Well, you can count all you want, but it will do you no good. Most online casinos use what is called a continuous shuffle, which means that there is no shoe and the count is irrelevant. Even when they say single deck Blackjack, it does no good to count when the deck is virtually shuffled every hand. However, it is not bad to practice this way, even if it does not help strategically.

At a casino however, Blackjack card counting is a legitimate strategy and has been proven legal in court as long as you are only using your brain and not a computer. Successful, persistent counters may be asked to leave if they are caught however. For the average person though, it can be fun to try and can be quite successful, especially when you hit a hot deck and really go on a streak.



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