Shuffle Tracking in Blackjack

Just about every single blackjack player out there has heard of card counting. Even casino patrons who only play a few rounds of blackjack for a break from their preferred casino game have heard of card counting. But what many blackjack players have not heard of is shuffle tracking.

Shuffle tracking is another

A Story of Card Counting Distraction

Card counting, while not illegal, can get your thrown out of a casino. But it is quite useful when it comes to blackjack strategy. But to pull it off well you have to practice it, and even then you have to be careful when counting cards at the blackjack table so that the dealer or pit personnel are not tipped off as to what you are doing.

Typically this means keeping the spread of your wagering small, and perhaps now and then throwing in a variance in your wagering, such as betting less when you should bet more or vice versa. The point is that you would be using it as a distraction. But I heard of another distraction that was used to cover up card counting.

I heard the story of man who was playing blackjack in Vegas and counting cards. So was the other guy who was at the table with him. Naturally since they were both counting and they were the only ones at the table, they were keeping their spreads small. But then a pretty woman stumbled up to the table who appeared to know the other guy. What then ensued was the other player giving her some of his chips and inviting her to play with them. But she was a terrible and sloppy player; even if she had not been drinking it was doubtful that she would have done well.

The other player helper the woman with her blackjack playing as best he could. Then the dealer, taking pity, started to give her tips and try to help. Finally pit personnel wound up trying to give her pointers to help her. While all of this was going on the other guy and the guy who told this story had increased the spread of their wagering. As a result the other man wound up cashing out for $30,000.

This is a case of distraction at the blackjack table. The dealer and pit personnel were too focused on helping the tipsy woman with her poor blackjack playing that they did not notice the two men increasing their spreads and making more off of their card counting.

While many blackjack players will resort to some sort of distraction to keep casino staff from picking up that they are counting cards, I had not heard of such an elaborate distraction. And while some distractions work at the blackjack table, they are not meant to replace skill and practice in card counting.

How Card Counting Odds Work for the Blackjack Player

If you look at explanations of card counting and which cards favor whom, you might begin to wonder something: if high cards, such as 10s, Jacks, Queens, Kings and Aces, favor the blackjack player then they also favor the dealer right?

Well, in truth, yes, they do favor the dealer too. Yes, it is just as likely that the dealer will be dealt a blackjack as you. But there are a few things built into the game of blackjack that, when combined with card counting, bring better odds for players when the remaining cards are rich in high cards. Today we are going to look at how payouts impact odds when the deck is rich in high cards.


Is Card Counting Legal or Not?

While card counting can be a highly useful skill for blackjack players, there is some concern over whether it is legal to use in a casino or not. This question will sometimes cause blackjack players who would normally teach themselves the skill to not learn it and therefore not take advantage of it.

In all reality there is no law that says that blackjack players cannot use card counting when playing. So in the law

A Basic Card Counting System

Now that we have talked about what card counting is and what it is not, what it does and what it does not do, it is time to look at the starting point of actually counting cards. Today we are going to look at the most basic of card counting systems, the Hi Lo system.

The Hi Lo system is the counting system that most blackjack players start out with. It is easy to remember and the math is easy enough that those who are not inclined to the subject can still use the system.

In the Hi Lo system cards fall into one of three categories: High, Low or Neutral. Each category is assigned a counting value: -1, +1 or 0. Now we look at the how the cards are broken down:

High cards: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10 with a counting value of -1
Neutral Cards: 9, 8, 7 with a counting value of 0
Low Cards: 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 with a counting value of +1

Okay, so now that we have the counting values down, now the work comes in.

When you are card counting you are tracking the cards that have been played. This means adding up the values of the cards as they are dealt. Of everyone at the table. So say you are dealt a 10/10, your neighbor is dealt a 10/7 and the dealer has been dealt a 6 your count would look like this:

-1 + -1 + -1 + 0 + 1 = -2

The -2 outcome means that more high cards have been played, which means there are more low cards left to be played. Low cards favor the dealer, so when your count moves beyond a -3 or -4 it is time to begin reducing your wager as the odds are more in favor of the dealer.

Now if your count goes up to +3 or +4 it means that a good number low cards have been played and have passed out of the game leaving a larger number of high cards

Understanding Card Counting

Card counting can be a very useful skill when playing blackjack. But it is a skill that requires time, practice and patience to learn to the point of effectiveness. A good many novice players do not have the correct perception of what card counting is and what it does.

So we will start there, with what card counting is. Card counting is a skill in which the player mentally tracks the flow of cards. This is not an exact count; the purpose of card counting is to give players an idea of when there are more high cards left in the unplayed deck. This is discovered when the count a player is keeping has reached the point that more low cards have been played than high cards.

Once a player has the knowledge that more low cards have been played, leaving a greater number, and therefore likelihood, of high card being dealt, the player can begin raising their bets. Bets are raised at this point because there is a greater chance of being dealt a strong hand if not an outright natural blackjack. When the remaining deck is rich in high cards, there is a greater chance of the player winning, which is why bets are increased at this point.

To sum it up, counting cards in blackjack can give players a long-term advantage over the house by knowing when they are more likely to win, and raising their wagers accordingly.

Now. What card counting is not.

Card counting is not a short cut that will allow players to beat the house. Yes, it will allow players to tilt the odds in their favor, but it is not an instantaneous happening. It is not a flashy skill to be thrown around the casino.

To be successful with card counting in blackjack, time and patience must be applied while learning the counting system of your choice. Players who utilize card counting when playing blackjack also have to understand that they are not going to win every single hand, but that they will win more over the long run.

Card Counting Tips: CSMs and RNGs

Well you have already had a basic explanation of how to begin card counting, but there are a few more things that you need to know before you reach your card counting glory.

There are also some blackjack games that you will want to avoid with card counting. Online blackjack and blackjack tables with Continuous Shuffle Machines. The reasons you want to avoid those blackjack games are very similar.

I will start with CSMs. CSMs are devices in which the cards from one round are fed into the device and the entire deck reshuffled before the next hand is dealt. Hence the continuous part.

This causes none of the cards that have been played to be discarded, and without discards there is nothing to count. Card counting is a way of keeping a loose running tab on the cards that have been played and removed from play under the remaining deck hits its reshuffle point. But since CSMs keep cards from being removed from play there is no point in trying to count them.

As for online blackjack, it is powered by a Random Number Generator. An RNG functions similarly to a CSM, but not exactly.

When an online blackjack game is created, its RNG is programmed with every possible outcome, such as all possible starting hands and dealer up card combinations. When a player clicks Deal, the RNG pulls from all possible starting hands and dealer up card combinations. This has an effect like a CSM because no cards are ever