Introduction: 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

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

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

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

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.