Meaning of Card counting

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Card counting in board and card games refers to the practice of keeping track of the cards that have been played or are still in the deck. This allows players to make informed decisions based on the probability of certain cards appearing in subsequent rounds.

Games that Utilize Card Counting:

1. Bridge:

In the game of Bridge, players rely heavily on card counting. It involves keeping track of which cards have been played in order to deduce the distribution of unplayed cards. This information helps players make optimal bids and plays.

2. Hearts:

Card counting is fundamental in Hearts. Players aim to avoid certain high-value cards. By keeping track of which cards have been played, they can strategically pass cards to opponents, aiming to offload undesirable cards.

3. Poker:

While Poker primarily involves bluffing and psychology, card counting can still be a useful skill. Skilled players may keep track of which cards have been revealed, helping them estimate the likelihood of certain hands forming.

4. Rummy:

In Rummy, players need to be mindful of which cards have been discarded by opponents. This information helps in forming sequences and sets, ultimately leading to a winning hand.

5. Cribbage:

Card counting is a core aspect of Cribbage. Players must calculate the points in their hand by considering not only their cards but also the discarded cards in the crib.

Why Card Counting Matters:

  1. Strategic Advantage: Keeping track of played cards provides a strategic edge. It allows players to anticipate which cards are likely to be drawn in subsequent rounds.
  2. Risk Management: Understanding the distribution of cards enables players to make calculated risks. They can choose to play conservatively or take bold moves based on the available information.
  3. Optimal Decision-Making: Card counting aids in making informed decisions. Players can choose actions that maximize their chances of success.

Developing Card Counting Skills:

  1. Practice: Regularly engaging in card games hones your card counting skills. The more you play, the more adept you become at keeping track of cards.
  2. Observation: Pay close attention to the cards that are played and discarded. Note patterns and use this information to your advantage.
  3. Mental Arithmetic: Basic mental arithmetic skills are essential for effective card counting. Practice quick addition and subtraction to keep up with the game.
  4. Stay Calm: In the heat of the game, it’s easy to lose track. Stay calm, take a deep breath, and reevaluate the situation.

How to Count Cards: A Beginner’s Guide

Author’s Note:

I vividly remember the first time I tried to count cards. It felt like deciphering a secret code in a movie. I was in a bustling casino, and every move seemed crucial. The truth is, card counting isn’t reserved for geniuses or math whizzes. It’s a skill anyone can learn with a bit of practice and understanding. In this guide, I’ll break down the process in simple steps, assuming no prior knowledge. Let’s dive in!


Card counting, often associated with blackjack, is a technique used by players to gain an advantage in a casino game. It’s not about memorizing every card but rather keeping track of certain cards to make better decisions.

NB: Counting cards is not considered illegal in the UK, nor is it against federal, state, or local laws in the US as long as no external device or individual aids the player in the process.

Casinos frown upon it and may ask you to leave if they suspect you’re counting cards. For now, we’re only exploring this in an academic way (what’s the harm in that? :)) so let’s get in to it.

1. Understanding the Basics:

Before we delve into the specifics, let’s get familiar with a few terms:

  • Deck: In blackjack, one or more decks of cards are used. We’ll focus on a standard six-deck game for this guide.
  • High Cards: These are cards with a value of 10 (10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace).
  • Low Cards: Cards with a value of 2 to 6 are considered low.
  • Neutral Cards: These are 7, 8, and 9.

2. Assigning Values:

Assigning values is the cornerstone of card counting. Here’s a simple system called the Hi-Lo method:

  • High Cards: Assign a value of -1.
  • Low Cards: Assign a value of +1.
  • Neutral Cards: Assign a value of 0.

For instance, if you see a King, you’d subtract one from your count. If you see a 5, you’d add one. It’s like a seesaw – high cards tip the balance down, low cards tip it up.

3. Keeping the Count:

Now comes the practice. As the dealer reveals cards, start keeping track. Let’s do a quick exercise:

  • Cards Revealed: King (+1), 8 (0), 4 (+1), 10 (-1), 6 (+1), 9 (0)

Add or subtract the values as you go along. In this example, the count would be +2.

4. Adjusting Your Bets:

The whole point of card counting is to know when the odds are in your favor. When the count is positive (more high cards are left), it’s time to increase your bet. When it’s negative, bet lower. This is where you start to gain an edge.

5. Basic Strategy Matters:

Card counting isn’t a magic wand; you still need to play smart. Learn and use basic blackjack strategy in tandem with counting. It’s like the foundation of a house – card counting builds on it.

6. Practice, Practice, Practice:

Author’s Note: When I first started, I practiced at home using a deck of cards. It helped me get comfortable with the system. Remember, it’s not about speed, but accuracy.

Repetition is key. Practice until keeping the count becomes second nature. You want it to be as automatic as breathing.

7. Stay Cool Under Pressure:

In a bustling casino, distractions are everywhere. Stay focused. If you lose the count, take a deep breath and start over. It’s a skill that improves over time.

8. Be Discreet:

Remember, casinos don’t like card counters. Don’t announce it to the world. Keep a low profile, and if you’re asked to leave, do so graciously.


Card counting is like a dance between observation and calculation. It’s not about being a math genius, but rather a disciplined observer. With practice and patience, you can gain an edge in blackjack. So, grab a deck of cards, start practicing, and who knows, you might just find yourself walking out of the casino with a smile on your face.

Remember, it’s all about having fun and enjoying the game responsibly. Good luck!

Author’s Note:

I hope this guide has given you a solid introduction to card counting. It’s a skill that, with practice, can level the playing field in blackjack. Just remember to stay within legal and ethical boundaries. Happy counting!

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