Guide To Card Counting

Whoa there, isn’t card counting illegal? No, it is frowned upon by casinos and if caught, you might be asked to leave, but card counting is actually completely legal. So, if you want to tip the odds at the blackjack table in your favour, here’s our guide to this intriguing art.


If you’re partial to a trip to the blackjack table and know a little about casino culture then you will have doubtless heard the term ‘card counting’ before. Whatever game you play in the casino you are always up against the house edge. Card counting is a strategy employed by blackjack players to tip that edge ever so slightly in their favour.

Card counting is based on statistics and probability. When counting cards, all you are really doing is keeping a track of the cards that have already been played. By keeping a mental tally of these cards, you can calculate whether the cards left in the deck are more likely to benefit you, or the dealer. You can then adjust your betting strategy accordingly

If you’re a proficient card counter then the pattern of your bets is likely to give you away. Casino bosses and blackjack dealers know their way around the blackjack table, and many will also know how to count cards. By occasionally making the type of mistake only a beginner blackjack player would make, such as splitting a pair of tens when the dealer shows a ten, you can throw them off the scent. Of course, only make an intentional mistake when you have placed the minimum bet.


There are a couple of myths that surround car counting that need to be dispelled:

Card counting is not memorising every card that you see dealt. That is simply not feasible given the number of card decks that are used.

Card counting does not allow you to magically predict what card will be dealt next. It simply lets you know when a deck statistically favours you as the player, and when it favours the dealer.


There are dozens of different methods of counting cards, but the Hi-Lo strategy is simple to learn and one of the most popular, so in this guide we will focus on that.

In blackjack, the high cards, particularly the aces, 10s and picture cards, are more of a help to the player than the dealer. The low cards (4s, 5s, and 6s) are more of a hindrance to the player and benefit the dealer more.

Therefore, the greater the number of aces and 10 value cards left in the deck, the greater your chances of hitting a natural blackjack, which pays out 1.5 of the amount you bet. Also, the greater the concentration of 10s that remain in the deck, the better your chance of winning when ‘doubling down’ (i.e. doubling your initial bet and receiving one additional card).

The low cards are a greater benefit to the dealer. This is due to the fact that the dealer must ‘hit’ on hands that total 12-16, while the player can choose whether to hit or stand. In this situation, if a 10 is drawn as the next card, the dealer will bust and you will win the hand.

To keep count of the number of high cards and low cards left in the deck, card counters assign values to particular cards. Using the Hi-Lo method, these values are:

Cards worth 10 have a value of -1
Aces have a value of -1
Cards 2-6 have a value of +1
Cards 7-9 have no value
When the deck has a positive running value, blackjack players increase their bets as this means there are more 10s and aces left in the deck. The higher this positive value becomes, the more the player should bet.


The art of card counting is nowhere near as difficult as you might think. You don’t need to be good at maths or have a good memory to do it. All you need to do is practice. To do this, simply work your way through a deck of cards, and as you deal a card, add it or subtract it from your tally. Once you can keep an accurate count nice and quickly, you’ll be ready to hit the tables.

And remember, card counting is certainly no guarantee of a win, but a player can acquire an edge of 0.5 percent to 1 percent over the casino.


Before you’re ready to take your new found skill to the casino, it’s essential you understand the basics of blackjack or you’ll soon lose that slim advantage. Sign up to Foxy Casino and play blackjack for free, or for money, to perfect the art.