How to count cards in Blackjack - 3 Counting techniques

How to count cards in blackjack

Blackjack is one of the few casino games in which after each hand the cards are not returned to the deck and are not shuffled. As a rule, the dealer deals several times from a shoe or even one deck. This gives players an advantage — the opportunity to count the cards that have come out and evaluate the chance of winning.

Counting techniques in blackjack

There are dozens of author’s account systems in blackjack. But there are only a few basic principles on which they are built. Let’s arrange them from simple to complex.


Ace-Five or “ace-five” is the easiest card counting technique in blackjack. It takes into account only aces and fives.

The essence of the system:

  • The countdown starts from zero.
  • Each five in the hand is +1, the ace is -1.
  • The higher the number, the higher the chances of winning.


  • Does not require changes in the course of the game.
  • Easy to master even for a beginner.


  • Does not give a big advantage in the game.

There are two modifications of the Ace-Five system. They use the same calculation principle, but they differ in the way they change the bet size:

  1. It doubles when a certain limit is reached, for example, +5.
  2. The amount corresponds to the specific values of the account.

blackjack cards

Plus or minus

It is also easy to count using the “Plus-minus” system. You will not need a calculator for this — only attentiveness and quick reaction.

The essence of the system:

  • The cards are divided into “small” (from two to six), “neutral” (from seven to nine) and “large” (from ten to ace) and have values of +1, 0 and -1, respectively.
  • The higher the score, the more favorable the situation is for the player.


  1. Simple.
  2. Allows you to profitably change the strategy depending on the account.


  1. Requires care, timely and correct change of strategy.
  2. Inaccurate-the values of the cards do not correspond to the real mathematical expectation.

For example, the exit of fives from the game is more favorable than twos, but according to the “Plus-minus” system, it is evaluated equally. We tried to eliminate this omission in improved versions with a large range of values, but such techniques are more difficult to apply.

How to count cards in blackjack


At the time of its creation, Hi-Opt had no analogues among other techniques. The authors used an unusual approach-they took into account not only the mathematical expectation, but also the caution of the game strategy.

The essence of the system:

  • Only triples, fours, fives, sixes (favorable) and tens (unfavorable) are counted.
  • Other cards are not counted.

The fundamental difference between Hi-Opt and other methods is that aces are ignored. The creators of the technique found that this is correct in terms of changing the course of the game.


  • Simplicity.
  • Suitable for cautious players.


  • You can not use an aggressive strategy.

Theoretically, it is effective to count aces, but in practice it can interfere, especially if there is a lack of gaming experience. Therefore, the Hi-Opt strategy is well suited for beginners.

cards in blackjack


Halves can be considered an improved version of “Plus or Minus”. This technique is quite complex and requires good counting skills.

The essence of the system:

  • Cards are assigned a value proportional to the change in the mathematical expectation of the game after they are released.
  • The higher the score number, the more chances to win.


  • High accuracy.


  • Complexity.
  • Errors in the calculation reduce efficiency to nothing.

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The technique of ” Halves “in 1975 in his book” Professional Blackjack ” was described by the American player Stanford Wang. In the original version, the values of the cards are half as much (from -1 to +1.5).

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