The mathematical genius, Dr. Edward O. Thorp, is considered to be one of the founders of the card counting strategy. He was able to draft the foundation of card counting that was used by countless Black Jack players in the 20th century. His book from 1962, “Beat the Dealer”, contains the core of the development of the strategy.
However, it also contains several different theories about how to play Black Jack strategically correctly. Thorp was in many ways far ahead of his time, while he was also one of the first to publish his theories and present them to a larger audience.
Another well-known name in the development of the card counting strategy is Andy Bloch. Today he is probably best known as a very successful poker player. Bloch was also part of M.I.T.’s Black Jack team and released a DVD with card counting instructions; “Beating Blackjack”. Bloch was also featured in the documentary “The Hot Shoe” by David Layton, published in 2005, which also dealt with Black Jack.
In the film, David Layton interviews card counters such as Andy Bloch and Edward Thorp. During the making of the film, Layton used the knowledge he had gained through the interviews and played for $5000 of the film’s budget to act as a case study.
Other famous people who have been important to the development of strategies for Black Jack are; Stanford Wong (author of “Professional Black Jack”), Kent Utson (author of “Million Dollar Black Jack”) and Arnold Snyder, who wrote “Blackbelt in Blackjack”.
Advantages and disadvantages of card counting
As far as we are concerned, all forms of cheating must be considered illegal. This applies, among other things, to “past-posting” and “base-dealing”. This also applies to all auxiliary units, such as e.g. mirrors or apps that can help cheat. A classic example is Keith Taft and his son, who became famous in the 1970s when they produced a mechanical and portable device that could count cards (see picture).
Card counting is just another way players can think strategically during the game. And most importantly – it is not illegal to count cards. Therefore, there is no reason why you should not count cards, but we still strongly recommend that inexperienced players do not try this strategy in a casino, as the casino has a very easy time detecting you if you are inexperienced. In other words, we just don’t want the casino to detect you if you use the card counting strategy.
Counting cards at an online casino is almost useless, since more or less all Danish online casinos use a “Random Number Generator”, which therefore produces all the numbers 100% randomly. In physical casinos, several hands of Black Jack can be played before the dealer reaches the deck’s cut-card, after which the cards must be shuffled again. In that case, card counting can be really effective!
How to count cards
As soon as the first card has been dealt, the card counter will start counting the value of the cards. A low-value card will add one point to your count. A high-value card deducts one point from your running count. All cards between 7 and 9 are seen as neutral and will not be counted in this Hi-Lo system.
Your total count after the specified round will be +1. There have been more low-value cards, which means there are more high-value cards left in the deck. As you may already understand, the count will not be very accurate after just a few rounds. Once you have gathered a lot of information, your count will gradually become more and more accurate, resulting in a better advantage for the player.
The first time you want to count on your own, you can choose to use a single set of playing cards and count all the cards through. If your count is correct, it should end up being 0 when all the cards are counted. It won’t be easy the first few times, but if you keep practicing, you can quickly learn to count quite accurately. After some practice, you can try to count two cards at once, which will make it more realistic compared to a real Black Jack game.
If you practice long enough, you will discover different combinations of cards, after which the counting will run almost automatically. This is exactly what is great about the simple Hi-Lo-Count. More complex card counting systems will be explained later, but most card counting experts agree that the advantage of a simple and easy technique is much greater than a more precise but also much more complicated technique.
It won’t take you long to learn how to use this simple system while playing Black Jack at regular speed. After some time, you will have your count running automatically in your head while you play, which means that you can focus 100% on the game at the same time. It can hide the fact that you are actually sitting and counting cards.
If you do not have a complete grasp of your chosen card counting system, it will take far too long to count the cards, which will be detected quite quickly by the casino staff, who are trained to detect this type of behavior at the gaming tables.
Now that we are talking about systems, you should also take a look at our article about roulette systems. Roulette systems do not require as much mathematical calculation, but are also effective for winning at the casino.