Is Card Counting in Blackjack Dead?

Casinos have struggled to deal with successful Blackjack card counters since 1950s, spending several decades to understand this advantage play (AP) method and how to combat it. They have since increased the number of decks, fixed unfavourable rules, and learned how to detect APs. Nowadays, this industry has technology on their side by utilizing facial recognition technology and databases to identify these players and keep their information on file, accordingly. As a result, many Blackjack players feel that card counting is dead but in reality, table-based advantage gambling is just as alive now as it was before.

Is card counting possible at online casinos?

Yes, it is possible!  Numerous gambling platforms have different types of Blackjack, including live dealer games, offering the authentic land-based casino feeling. If you want to start counting, choose one of these bonus codes and take into consideration the following steps:

1. Pay attention to the casino's rules
If the Blackjack rules are poor, cards counting won't be enough to win the game. Rules like “No doubling after splits” or “Blackjacks pay 6:5” tend to be too much. Instead, search the casinos with average rules.

2. Deck Penetration
For the counting to be effective, the dealer must deal enough rounds before the shuffle. Be aware that many gambling platforms utilize continuous shuffle machines and thus, these should be avoided. For the ones that don't utilize CSM, the dealer will shuffle in the middle of the shoe.

3. Adequate rounds per hour
Card counters are like assembly-line operatives, putting together positive expected value hands of Blackjack. The more hands you play per hour, the more profit you can expect.

Learn how to count cards

Card counting is often showcased in movies, the AP method being portrayed as a complex process that only geniuses can apply. This process isn't as complicated as casinos would want you to think and it can be learned in minutes and some time of practice. Below, you will find the main components of card counting when using the Hi-Lo system.

Give Values to Cards

Your first task is to watch cards as they are being dealt and assign values to each type, as follows:

  • High cards (A through 10) = -1;
  • Neutral cards (7 through 9) = 0;
  • Low cards (2 through 6) = +1.

You need to keep counting and add or subtract 1 as every card comes out of the deck. This count is also known as your “running count”.

Determine Your Edge

Once you have uncovered the true count, you may apply and observe if you have an advantage over the casino. The true count correlates to an edge or disadvantage in numerous scenarios:

+3 true count = 1.77% player's edge
+2 = 1.17%
+1 = 0.58%
0 true count = 0.42% house edge
-1 = 0.80%
-2 = 1.53%
+3 gain= 2.05

You obtain an advantage when the true count is at or near +1. Although, you don't want to increase your bets until achieving a +1.5 true count or higher. A more favourable count will help you make higher wagers with more confidence.

Consider Strategy Deviations

Your profits can further increase by understanding when to deviate from the count strategy. The key point behind card counting is to wager more when the deck has many aces and 10s. The chance of getting a natural Blackjack is higher at that stage.

Another advantage of counting cards is that you're able to tell when more high cards (favour you) exist than low cards (favour the dealer). Dealers, who draw to a hard or soft 17, profit from low cards, having a smaller chance of busting out. Supposing you walk away from basic strategy at the proper time, you can enhance your edge. Here's an example:

You're dealt an ace and 7 (soft 18) and the dealer's upcard is 2. Basic strategy tells you to stand in this situation. Although, the true count is a very favourable +3. The deck features numerous high cards that could bust out the dealer and as a result, you double down.

It's not mandatory to make these strategy deviations to win with counting, but you can improve your advantage even more when doing so.

Spreading Bets

Again, you want to be careful with the size of your bets. The bigger the spread, the more likely the pit boss will observe. You should vary your minimum and maximum wagers by a fair amount, in order to succeed. Avoid being greedy and going from C$10 minimum to C$500. A 1-100 spread of this type will most certainly lead to a ban.

Is it Illegal?

No, card counting is NOT illegal. You are not cheating, nor using some device to trick the casino. You are only using your brain power and the skills you have gained to try and obtain an edge. However, casinos may ban you if they discover it.

In the old days, there were many stories about people being taken in the back rooms and beat up for card counting. These stories may be true and are a sign of rougher times but today, the worst that can happen is they will firmly ask you to leave, take a copy of your ID or picture, and ban you from their property. They might also share your information with other casinos to stop you from playing there as well. While this may be embarrassing and unpleasant, it's much better than getting beat up or arrested.


Card counting is easier to learn than Hollywood makes it look. If you practice enough and develop great skills, your balance might improve considerably. Start with the basics, then proceed to the advanced techniques and boost your profits.

That being said, even with the sophisticated technology and trained employees, casinos are still losing to APs, therefore, card counting isn't dead!

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