Introduction: How to Count Cards, a Basic Introduction to Help Your Odds

Picture of How to Count Cards, a Basic Introduction to Help Your Odds

You've heard the term "counting cards" before, and here you will learn a very simple, basic card counting method called the "plus-minus count." This technique can help to tip the scales in your favor and beat the casino.

Step 1: Card Values

Picture of Card Values

When using the "plus-minus count," each card has a value. Cards 2 through 6 have a +1 count. Cards 7 through 9 have a 0, or neutral count. Cards 10 through ace have a -1 count.

Step 2: The Count

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The count starts at 0.

As each card is dealt, add that card's value to the count.

For example: If an Ace, king, 2, 7,6,4, and 5 are dealt, the count is +2

Ace -1
King -1
2 +1
7 0
6 +1
4 +1
5 +1

Total= +2

The dealer's face-down card is not counted until it is flipped.

Step 3: Keep Counting

Continue the count as the cards are dealt out of the deck, the count does not reset to 0 after each hand.

The plus-minus count is know as a "balanced" system, meaning that a standard 52 card deck will always bear a count of 0 after all 52 cards are dealt.

Step 4: Betting

Betting is a very simple concept with the plus-minus count, the higher the count, the higher you bet.

A good rule of thumb is to increase your bet one increment (by $x constantly) for each count over 0.

A high count means that there are more low cards that have been dealt, increasing the probability of a high card being dealt next. The higher the probability of a high card, the higher the chance of the dealer busting and the player being dealt a favorable hand.

A low count means that there are more high cards that have been dealt, increasing the probability of a low card being dealt next. The higher the probability of a low card, the higher the chance of a dealer getting a favorable hand, and the player receiving a less favorable hand. With a very low count, however the chance of the player to be dealt "five under 21," (which is an automatic win in some casinos) in which the players hand consists of five or more cards, yet they are still not bust.

Step 5: Being Discreet

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Casinos don't like card counters. Why should they? Card counters lower the house's odds to make money. If you are ever counting cards in a casino, don't make yourself too noticeable. Don't count out loud, don't look like you're counting, and act natural.

Step 6: Practice!

Card counting will be difficult at first, but will eventually become second nature. The only way to get better is to practice! Practice at home or with friends first, and be prepared for all the distractions of a casino floor.

A good way to practice is to gather a few friends. Have one deal and monitor the count, have one or two play with you, and have one distract you. The distraction could try to talk to you, yell at you, bump into you, offer you a drink, flash lights at you, play loud music, make distracting noises or movements, or just generally be annoying.

Step 7: A Word to the Wise

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Be careful! Obvious card counting can lead to your ejection from a casino.

This instructable is for, well, instructional purposes only. I am in no way responsible for anything you do using this information.

Comments

randofo (author)2008-01-18

Hello, and welcome to the Instructables community! It's great that you've decided to tell the world about something you've made by publishing an Instructable. We just wanted to let you know that your project still needs a little more work if you want it to be well received on Instructables. Projects that don't include certain basic elements tend not to get the attention that they deserve, and so we'd love for you to check out the list below of what makes a successful Instructable. Successful projects on Instructables include: - clearly written details of a finished project with instruction - as many steps as are necessary to explain your project - clear images that you took of your project for most, if not all of your steps - an intro image - proper spelling and grammar - appropriate cautions or safety considerations I'll give you another opportunity to make any final changes to your project before we publish it. Once you're all set to go, please republish your project and send me a quick comment letting me know that you've made some changes. I'll give it a quick final check to make sure you're on the right path, and then remove this note. Thanks for your submission and we hope to see your project published soon!

bduarte3 (author)2013-09-10

Sorry its not +2

frydfox (author)bduarte32016-01-24

Ace -1

King -1

-1 + -1 = -2

2 +1

-2 + 1 = -1

7 0

-1 + 0= -1

6 +1

-1 + 1= 0

4 +1

0 +1= 1

5 +1

1+1= 2

The answer is indeed +2. It's easy to get confused, so don't feel bad.

bduarte3 (author)2013-09-10

The count on the first example is wrong its +3 not +3

frydfox (author)bduarte32016-01-24

Ace -1

King -1

-1 + -1 = -2

2 +1

-2 + 1 = -1

7 0

-1 + 0= -1

6 +1

-1 + 1= 0

4 +1

0 +1= 1

5 +1

1+1= 2

The answer is indeed +2. It's easy to get confused, so don't feel bad.

15zfetten (author)2012-04-19

I don't get it is it higher + or the low- that is better for your winning odds.

mg0930mg (author)2008-09-06

I would suggest putting a warning. They can beat you to a bloody pulp, in casinos. (Watch 21, or read the book.)

jakee117 (author)mg0930mg2008-10-04

but that is a movie, not real life... they still might.

mg0930mg (author)jakee1172008-10-05

Actually it is real life. It is the true life story about the six M.I.T. Students. :)

M4industries (author)mg0930mg2010-07-09

The count goes back to zero when the deck is shuffled. Just to let you know.

M4industries (author)mg0930mg2010-07-09

I actually know one of the students on the team. He lives here in Jacksonville, FL.

jakee117 (author)mg0930mg2008-10-05

oh... yeah but like I said, they probably will beat you

mg0930mg (author)mg0930mg2008-09-06

A warning in the intro, excuse me.

M4industries (author)2010-05-01

 Ever seen 21? 

Ben Campbell got BEAT DOWN.

PyroMonger (author)2009-09-09

how do u manage to count cards if u you can't see all the other player's cards?

In blackjack, everyone's cards but the dealer's are face up. The dealer shows one card.

ive never played blackjack like that...i always hide my cards....it would be stupid to play while everyone can see your cards...then you cant bluff...it seems silly to me but it's not the first time i've been playing a game wrong and didn't know

Blackjack is traditionally an "against-the-house" game and the only hand that matters besides your own is the dealer's.

Aaah...now I'm definitely on the same page as you. Thanks for that info

Nova_Logic (author)2008-05-06

sooo how do you know if if your odds at winning are good? the higher the + count the better? it seems the closest i get to 0 the closer i am to winning or by a larger margin that i do win. and the more +'s i have the more i lose same with -'s

scienceguy (author)Nova_Logic2008-06-11

If you are playing with one deck, then that is the case. But most casinos use 5 or 6 decks. That is why it works. If you count through the entire deck, you will end up at zero. THat is why it works.

Exactly.

yallrfags (author)2008-04-05

thank you soooo much i and im sure many others really appreciate this my whole life ive been told that im amazing at math and blah blah blah and i can figure out all the %of each card when playing hold'em and all kinds of stuff and finally i can kick some people's butts at blackjack now too... a while back i figured out the basic concept of the dealer bust and everything but this really helps i have no clue where i was going with this whole comment but i guess im really excited about this

Alexizupinhea (author)2008-03-01

Thanx SOO much!!!!! I'm only 15 but hopefully blackjack will still be around when I grow up... and by then I'll be a PRO!

loganbell (author)2008-02-21

GREAT! thanks for the instructable, a tip: when betting in a casino and you think you are being watched, make a bad play or something, but don't make eye contact and then get up and leave as you my seem suspicious, don't always win, counting isn't illegal, but ...

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