Blackjack Card Counting Running Count

A Running Count is the sum total of the count system’s point value at a given time using the pre-assigned values of the cards from the start of the shoe until the end.

Each time the deck is shuffled the Running Count starts at 0. If the first card is dealt is an Ace the running count is decreased by 1 because the Ace’s count value in the High-Low system is -1. The running count is now -1. If the next card drawn is a 10, the 10 has a count value of -1. The running count gets decreased by 1 and the new running count total is now -2. When the 2 is drawn, a positive value of 1 is added to the existing running count because the 2 card has a count value of +1. This gives a new running total of -1. As each card is draw from the shoe the count point value of that card is added to, or subtracted from, the running count. This progression keeps going until the deck needs to be reshuffled. A counting system is referred to as a “balanced count” if after the whole deck has been dealt the running count returned to 0.

The running count is updated every time a card is drawn from the shoe. The more decks that are being played, the greater the tendency for the count to go very negative or very positive. It is imperative that the running count be remembered between individual Blackjack games and until the deck is to be reshuffled. When the deck is shuffled and play stopped, the running count is returned to 0. However, the running count is not used for any play decisions, the true count mentioned below is.

True Count

All of a player’s decisions, when card counting, are based upon the true count. The true count is derived by dividing the running count by the estimated number of remaining decks in the shoe. The resultant figure will determine how much advantage a player has. When the true count is positive the player has an advantage over the casino. Conversely, when the true count is negative the casino has a greater advantage over the player. For every true count increment the player increases his advantage by roughly 0.5%. Therefore, if you are playing at a casino with a house edge of 0.5% then when the true count is +1 the player is roughly playing even with the casino, that is 0% advantage for the player or casino. When the true count is greater than 1 the player has the advantage over the house.

In order to accurately determine the true count one needs to know the number of decks remaining in the shoe. The easiest way to try estimating this is by looking at the discarded cards. Determine approximately how many decks have been played since the last shuffle. Subtract this number from the overall number of decks that have been played. The number of decks remaining can be rounded to the nearest half deck for conversion purposes. The true count value is the running count divided by this value.

Read more about betting strategies while card counting

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