Blackjack card counting
In Blackjack, it is actually possible for players to beat the house by developing card counting skills and techniques. Although it takes much practice and discipline, card counting is actually possible, and legal. This is what the MIT Blackjack team did as depicted in the movie 21.
There are in fact many methods and systems that could be used to count cards but the most common one is the Hi Lo Method. This is also the simplest method and it is advisable to master this method first if a player is set on conquering the blackjack tables by card counting.
It is done by keeping track of the ratio of high cards and low cards which have not yet been dealt. This ratio would then be used to determine whether or not a player has an advantage over the house. It is called Hi Lo because it keeps track of the high cards which are the tens, jacks, queens, kings and aces, and low cards which are comprised of two through six. Neutral cards are seven, eight, and nine; however they hold no value and are therefore not included in the count.
So basically, high cards are assigned a value of -1, and low cards are assigned a value of +1. At the beginning of a game, a player does a running count by using 0 as your starting value. For each card being dealt, a player must add or subtract a value accordingly. With 52 cards in a deck, all values should ad to zero when counted correctly.
It is recommended to practice with a deck of cards and just flip though all of them; they should always sum up to zero. It is very important to be precise when counting because if you miss counting a single card it could completely ruin your calculations. You might make a misinformed decision based on an inaccurate count.
To be more accurate in multi-deck tables, the running count should be converted to the true count by dividing the running count by the number of decks still remaining in the shoe. If for example your running count is 15 but there are still 3 decks that haven’t been dealt yet, you just divide 15 by 3 which gives you a true count of 5.
Again it is important to practice until you have perfected the Hi Lo counting method. Basically, you bet more if you have a positive count (which means more low numbers are already dealt), since there is a high chance for the dealer to get a high card, thus going bust. If the count is negative, decrease your bet since there is a lower chance of winning.
If you master this technique and more advanced ones, you could become a professional blackjack player. Quite an interesting profession. But note that for obvious reasons casinos do not allow card counting so make sure you do not get caught by the casino security as they will ban you from the casino.