Card Counting Basics for Blackjack—Part I

Card counting is one of the most coveted blackjack strategy skills in the game. It is easy to play according to basic strategy—all you do is look off of the chart and make the recommended play. I am not saying that basic strategy should be dispensed with in favor of card counting. Actually both are necessary.

Basic strategy can get you within 0.5% of the house’s edge over you. But card counting can make up that half of a percent and even tilt the edge in your favor.

But such a skill as card counting does not come as easily as basic strategy. It requires practice and patience to learn. That practice can make the difference between gaining that slight edge over the house and being caught and subsequently kicked out of the casino.

Because of its known potential to beat the house edge, card counting has built up a reputation, some of which is true and some of which is not. Part of using such a strategy skill in blackjack is to know what is true and what is rumor.

One of the biggest is that card counting is illegal. This is not true exactly.

There is now law that says that card counting is against the law. However, casinos are private businesses. This means that they can choose who they want to do business with, and by that I mean they can refuse to allow players to play as playing is considered a business transaction between a player and the casino. It is on these grounds that casinos can have a card counting player banned from the blackjack tables or removed from the casino.

This is why you want to practice your card counting skill regularly—you do not want to get caught counting. You must be able to count quickly and quietly in your head without any outward signs that you are doing so, and all in the midst of the lights and sounds that make a casino what it is.

That is the first most basic thing you need to know about card counting—the actual legal stand point on the highly acclaimed blackjack strategy skill. You need to know that it is not illegal but that there is the risk of being removed from the casino if you are caught counting. Knowing this helps enforce the need for practice and it also imparts the seriousness with which casinos regard card counting blackjack players.