Card Counting Systems

By: Ed Teller

Soon after Thorpe convinced us that we could beat Blackjack if we could keep track of the cards played, players began developing and fine tuning counting systems to eek out all the advantage possible.

As we have found, some worked better for certain games (number of decks) than others and some were less difficult to learn and use. The list of systems has grown but I am going to show you a popular group with a composite analysis done with millions of hands of simulation play.

I should further preface this analysis to say that Blackjack Science trains and uses Hi-Lo as it is the most popular system in use, especially with many of the historic teams.

Shown in the chart are the values each system assigns to each card (tags). Difficulty of use suggest how hard the system is to use (higher numbers are harder).

Comparative analysis of these systems can be found at Card Counting Strategy Sources. Card counting techniques include the following measurements:

Betting Correlation – BC is defined as the correlation between card point values and the effect of removal of cards. It is used to predict how well a counting system predicts good betting situations and can approach 1.00 (100% correlation.) BC is particularly important in shoe games (six or eight decks.)

Insurance Correlation – IC is defined as the correlation between card point values and the value of cards in Insurance situation. A point value of -9 for tens and +4 for all other cards would be perfect for predicting if an Insurance bet should be placed.

Playing Efficiency – PE indicates how well a counting system handles changes in playing strategy. Playing efficiency is particularly important in hand-held games (one or two decks.)

Card counting techniques include the following measurements:
 
Playing Efficiency – PE indicates how well a counting system handles changes in playing strategy. Playing efficiency is particularly important in hand-held games (one or two decks.)
Betting Correlation – BC is defined as the correlation between card point values and the effect of removal of cards. It is used to predict how well a counting system predicts good betting situations and can approach 1.00 (100% correlation.) BC is particularly important in shoe games (six or eight decks.)
Insurance Correlation – IC is defined as the correlation between card point values and the value of cards in Insurance situation. A point value of -9 for tens and +4 for all other cards would be perfect for predicting if an Insurance bet should be placed.
Level – The level of a strategy refers to the number of different values assigned to cards. Level 2 and 3 counting strategies are more efficient, but quite a bit more difficult for most people. Level 4 & 5 counting strategies also exist. But this is overkill.
Side Counts – There are several methods of side counting used to increase strategy efficiency. For an outline of five side counting techniques, see Side Counting Techniques.
 
Type – The TYPE column key follows:
 
 
B – Balanced count requiring the calculation of a True Count
U – Unbalanced count with no True Count
S – Suit Aware count requiring different counts for red and black cards
C – Compromise indexes used for greater ease
1, 2, 3, 4 – Level. That is the highest tag value
 
Note: Playing Efficiency (as defined by Griffin) is not relevant to unbalanced counting systems and is only an estimate. PE & BC stated here do not include side counts.




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