The value of cards varies in every card game. In some games, the highest value cards win, while in some games, the lowest value cards win. In some games like poker, the combination of cards matters more than the value. In blackjack, knowing the term ‘true count’ is important. When the player counts the cards in the game of blackjack, he keeps a score of those cards, and that score is known as true count. The player is supposed to assign the number like -1, 1, 0 to these cards according to the value of the cards. The running count is kept on track by adding and subtracting these values of the true count. If the first cards which were to be dealt were 2, 6, Q, 7, 3, 5, K, 8, 5, 6, 2 then the running count would be 1 +1 -1 +0 +1 +1 -1 +0 +1 +1 +1, giving a total of 5. When you want the true count the number obtained from this counting is divided by the number of remaining decks, if there are 3 decks remaining the true count would be 3 divided by 5. That’s how a player can calculate the true count.
How can we calculate the remaining decks?
Different players estimate the remaining cards in different manners as follows:
- By looking at the shoe – This seems obvious as we are dividing by the number of remaining decks, and they are sitting in the shoe. However, this is not very accurate as all the cards are not visible and the cards are not always stacked tightly. Very few people use this method. Few people use this method and it doesn’t require looking at the discard tray. Also, some tables now hide the cards in the discard tray.
- By subtracting cards in discard tray – The most common method is to look at the discard tray and subtract from the starting number of decks. Of course, this is not quite accurate for playing decisions since it ignores the cards on the table.
- By subtracting the cards which are dealt – In calculating the remaining cards, subtract the total number of cards dealt from the total cards including those on the table both seen and unseen. This is a bit more accurate and more difficult. This method is incorrectly used by many blackjack players.
- By subtracting the cards which are seen –in this, you only take into account the actual number of cards seen. That is the cards in the discard tray (except the unseen burn cards) plus only the cards on the table that you have seen. This is the most accurate and the most difficult. Few people use this method.
- By counting the hands – In single deck games, some people count the number of hands, multiply by 2.7 and subtract from 52.
Since card counting became more well known to casinos and pit bosses, they started to use a greater number of decks in blackjack games. This automatically reduces the advantage of the card counters. But this can be overcome by the true counting.
The higher the true count, the more favourable the game becomes to the player. Thus higher bets are used to gain an advantage and with lower bets when the count is low. Card counters know that before we bet or play using a balanced strategy, we must adjust the running count by the un-dealt cards, which means that we should convert the running count into the true count. So calculating the true count is a must for all the players.