Card counting in the casino game of blackjack is solely used for the manipulation of the wagering pattern to exploit the information on the cards. In other words, it is a practiced and developed skill blackjack players use to their advantage to track various cards in a deck giving them a larger edge over the casino. As a result, this practice is banned at all casinos.
When using card counting in blackjack to manipulate betting patterns, there are three parameters players must remember:
- Running count (R)
- Side count (X)
- Balance number of decks in the shoe (D)
The true count of cards is adjusted based on the formula: (R + X) / D. The result is a factor that helps the player decide how to deviate from the typical blackjack strategy. Therefore, the larger the count, the more beneficial the deviation is for the player. Variables R and X take on positive and negative values which combine to determine whether the true count is positive or negative. This is a direct result of the distribution of cards within the shoe.
The most critical parameter for determining the size of the true count is D. A small number for D results in a large true count while a large value equates to a small true count value. D is indicative of the rules set forth by the casino which communicates to the player where the card counting skill will be useful.
One of the primary factors in determining D is the total number of decks used. The second factor of significance is penetration which is the percentage of all cards from the dealing shoe prior to the shoe being exhausted. For example, if all cards in the shoe are dealt, then the penetration is 100 percent with the D factor being close to 0.
The aforementioned true count is utilized in two ways. The first method is a mathematical formula known as the “Kelly Criterion” which determines the overall percentage of bankroll remaining to be wagered based on the calculated true count value. The other method is to use the typical blackjack strategy which reflects the true count.
Card counting for blackjack can be difficult to learn and even more difficult to master. You also must factor in that casino surveillance is under constant scrutiny of all players betting patterns, therefore it is important to not deviate from normal blackjack play. However if you can master this combination, a great deal of money can be made.