What Is Blackjack Card Counting and Shuffle Tracking?

21 January 2021 4 minutes to read
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Blackjack is one of few casino games that still allows legitimate advantage play. That means that there are techniques that players can use to get an edge over the house. The two most famous techniques are card counting and shuffle tracking, so let’s take a closer look a them.


What Is Blackjack Card Counting?

Card counting is the most popular advantage technique in blackjack. You’ve probably heard about it in a book or a movie already. There are a few variations to card counting. The basic idea is that you track high-value cards and low-value cards.

There’s no doubt that a higher concentration of high-value cards favor the player. A card counter looks at the cards to see if they’re beneficial to him or not. Low-value cards, on the other hand, benefit the dealer. That’s why a card counter will lower the stakes or stay away altogether if the count looks bad.


Undertsand The Math In Card Counting

The basic card counting method is to keep a count. You’ll adjust this count depending on which cards show up. You’ll always adjust your count after a hand. Your count will then tell you if you should play the next hand, or not.

Since you might not have the option of sitting out of a hand. Card counting enables you to increase or decrease your bets. The specific mathematics are difficult to comprehend. However, card counting at its core is not as difficult as the media makes it out to be.


What Is Back-Counting?

Aside from basic card counting, there’s a side variation players call back-counting. Teh more popular term for it is Wonging, Stanford Wong invented it. The idea is to keep your distance from a blackjack table while you’re counting cards. You then sit down and start playing once the count is in your favor.

You then leave after a shuffle or once the count is no longer in your favor. Wonging can give you an even bigger advantage than basic card counting. It comes with some pitfalls, though. Some casinos prevent Wonging altogether. They don’t allow you to join between shuffles in games that use one or two decks. Hanging back from a table and joining it periodically will lead to more suspicion than making different bet sizes.

There are quite a few card counting guides available online. Most of them are decent and available at no cost. When it comes to paid training, you need to be careful and consider whether you need it or not. You’ll need to invest a lot time to become a successful card counter.

Consider if you make a living out of blackjack. If you have even the slightest of uncertainties, don’t even bother. Card counting for a living is much harder since USA casinos online take all kinds of precautions. If you don’t have any local casinos; it makes no sense to learn card counting. You can still learn it out of pure interest or curiosity.


What Is Shuffle Tracking?

The goal of shuffle tracking is to keep track of the cards and their sequences throughout shuffles. Players can use it together with card counting, and it often is. A shuffle tracker determines tracking zones and follows them through the shuffles. This allows him or her to determine at which points it’s worth to enter the classic casino game.

If the tracked zone is beneficial for the player, he or she joins the game or increases the stake size. If it isn’t, it’s time to sit out or decrease the stake size. In blackjack, there’s also a technique called Ace Sequencing that is based on the same principle. Instead of tracking zones, the player tracks Aces.

That can be very effective, since Aces are highly beneficial for the player. If you receive an Ace as your first card. You automatically gain a significant advantage over the dealer. This is unlike any other card in the deck. Therefore, it makes sense to focus on Aces and have Ace Sequencing as your first technique. By no means is it easier than card counting. The only way to master it is through a lot of hard work and practice.


Card Counting and Shuffle Tracking Online Casinos

Since online casinos offer blackjack tables 24/7, it’s only natural to ask if it’s possible to beat it. If you can beat blackjack at land based casinos, why shouldn’t you be able to beat it at online casinos?

The answer is simple, online blackjack plays by different rules. These rules make card counting harder and often outright impossible. When it comes to classic online blackjack against a machine dealer, there’s no point in even trying. The live blackjack dealer casino shuffles the decks after each round. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to count cards.

Live casino tables are a bit more tricky, as those often don’t shuffle continuously. At most of them, shuffling occurs way too often for card counters to gain an edge. On top of that, live casino tables are slow, which is also a big negative. The same issues go with shuffle tracking as well. You can practice these techniques online, unfortunately they won’t get you anywhere.


Final Word

Card counting and shuffle tracking allow hard-working blackjack players to turn the odds in their favor. Both methods are legal in most jurisdictions, but their golden era is over. Casinos know how to spot card counters and shuffle trackers. They can then take all kinds of precautions to stop them from winning big. Unless you’re the biggest blackjack enthusiast around, it doesn’t make much sense to learn them.

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