How To Count Cards – Beginners Guide To Card Counting

by James Smith |
Date of Publishing: 16/07/2021

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Are you an avid blackjack player? If so, then you may be familiar with the concept of card counting which is also known as card reading. This is a technique used in blackjack to help players beat the dealer and take home huge cash prizes! For those who love games of blackjack, at the very least, being familiar with card counting is an absolute must. However, this is a practice that is discouraged by casinos and so you will need to know how to avoid detection.

Here at Fruity King, we’re giving you all the information you need to know about card counting including what exactly card counting is, how it works, the different card counting techniques you can use as well as how to avoid detection. Carry on reading to find out more!

What is Card Counting?

Card counting is a popular strategy that is used by many blackjack players to try and beat the dealer and take home big cash prizes. With this technique, players will be trying to predict whether or not the next hand dealt will be favourable to them or not and this can help to decrease the house edge. The aim of this technique is to try and mentally keep a tally of the cards that have been drawn and also the cards that the dealer has, plus the other players in the game.

This is not an easy strategy to learn and implement, but if you are going to be playing lots of blackjack it is definitely worth the time and effort to learn. You can expect to significantly increase your chances of winning by anywhere from 0.5% to 1% and become a pro blackjack player!

How to Count Cards in Blackjack

Are you ready to learn how to count cards? We’re giving you below a step by step guide on how to implement this strategy in your next blackjack game.

  1. Card counting begins as soon as the cards start to be dealt. There will be the same number of high cards as there are low cards, and when you have a rough guide as to how many have been dealt at the beginning of the game, you can then start to predict what cards are left in the deck
  2. Low value cards dealt will be a +1 to your count – card values 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
  3. High value cards dealt will be a -1 to your count – card values 10, J, Q, K, A
  4. Three cards dealt will add 0 to your count – card values 7, 8, 9
  5. Players must mentally tally up the figures
  6. If it is a positive number, the player could possibly have the advantage and may want to place a higher bet
  7. If it is a negative number, it is more likely that the casino has the advantage, and a smaller bet should be placed in the following round

Pros and Cons of Card Counting

Are you still not sure whether card counting in blackjack is right for you? Here are some of the reasons why you should give card counting a go as well as reasons to avoid it.

Pros of Card Counting

Here are some of the positives to card counting in blackjack:

  • It is a winning strategy – of course, the top reason why players choose to card count is that it is a winning strategy. While no strategy is 100% effective all the time, card counting can help you to reduce the house edge and place calculated bets to help you take home big cash prizes
  • It is simple to do – card counting can appear complicated at first, but once you get started and understand the basic rules, you will see that it is very simple and easy to do. You do not have to be great at maths to implement this technique, and both beginners and expert players can incorporate it into their blackjack gameplay
  • It is one of the few player advantages – the advantage always lies in favour of the casino and they have removed many of the tips and tricks that players used to be able to implement to get ahead of the casino. Card counting is one of the few advantages that players have left on their side to help them reduce the house edge and win big

Cons of Card Counting

Here are some of the negatives to card counting in blackjack:

  • It is not a huge advantage – any advantage is great, and something that players will want to utilise but the reduction in house edge is not always huge and does not mean you are suddenly guaranteed wins, otherwise every player would be winning massive sums of money every night which is not the case
  • It takes practice – card counting is not that difficult to learn, but if you want to go undetected at a casino and master your craft, then it does take a lot of time, effort and practice to be the best card counter you can
  • You have to avoid detection – casinos are always watching out for players card counting as they deem this to be cheating, even though it is not illegal. If you are caught, you can expect to be removed from the casino and may even be blacklisted from all their establishments

As you can see, there are many pros and cons to card counting in blackjack games, and it is up to you, the player to decide whether or not it is worth the risk.


Different Card Counting Techniques

There are different card counting techniques players can implement to help them increase their odds when playing blackjack. The High-Lo system is the most popular, but other options are available for those who want to try something a little bit different.


The high-lo system is the most commonly used card counting method amongst players as it is simple and, most importantly, it works! This is the system that we have laid out step by step for you above, where you count cards, and each has an assigned value. This gives players a good idea of whether the odds are in their favour or in the casino’s favour and so you can then lower or increase your bet accordingly. If the deck is left with mostly high value cards after being dealt, then this puts the player at an advantage as the dealer is much more likely to go bust. If it is mainly low value cards left in the deck, this will not be in your favour, and the dealer is more likely to win.  

True Count

What is also important to consider when you are card counting is not just the value of the cards left but also the number of cards left in the deck. As the game is played, your count should become more accurate as you reach closer to the end of the deck. To get the true count, you can divide the running count with an estimation of the remaining decks to get the right count. This provides players with a more accurate reflection of how favourable the deck is to them, and bets can be adjusted accordingly.

Back Counting

A more complex card counting system is back-counting, which can also be referred to as wonging. With this method, players would card count from the side of the game and then join in when the game was going to be favourable to them. This means that you can save more money when playing blackjack as you are not wasting cash at the beginning when it is not known who the advantage leans towards. While this seems like the best strategy to use, most casinos will be on the look out for players doing this, and you are unlikely to go undetected. Many casinos will also now not allow players to enter blackjack mid-game.

Casino Card Counting Measures

Card counting is not an illegal practice, but it is frowned upon at casinos and could get you kicked out! However, there are precautions you can take to try and help ensure that this does not happen. The main precaution that you can take is to really refine your card counting craft so you are the very best that you can be at doing it. Once you have this mastered, it will come much easier to you, and you are less likely to be detected.

Casinos, of course, try to discourage card counting as much as possible and so have put a range of counter-measures in place:

  • Cutting card counter-measure – the casino does not play through an entire deck of cards and so cuts off the ability to count them and increase your edge.
  • Multiple decks counter-measure – this is when the casino introduces more card decks into the game but if you are using the hi-lo counting card method, this will not really affect your strategy
  • Facial recognition counter-measure – a new tactic taken by casinos is the introduction of facial recognition. When you enter the casino, your face will be scanned and checked against a database of known cheaters
  • Microchips counter-measure – some casinos will use gambling chips with microchips planted inside in order to track information on the betting amounts at tables
  • In-house card counting counter-measure – automated systems are used in casinos that help to detect players who are using card counting techniques. This includes doing their own card counts to help detect when players are raising or lowering their bets in accordance with how favourable the card deck is


Card counting is not a strategy that everyone will be able to master as it takes time, effort and skill to be good enough that the casino will not detect you. However, if you are going to be playing lots of blackjack with the aim of taking home big cash prizes, rather than simply playing for fun, then learning card counting is vital to long term success and there is no other strategy that has the same proven track record. Practice the method of card counting online and keeps bets small until you can confidently implement this technique with bigger bets. 

About the Author

Author: James Smith.

James Smith has been writing about casino games and strategies for over a decade. He is an expert in the industry and loves to help people get started with online gambling. In his free time, James enjoys reading books by other successful authors, cycling around town, or playing poker.