The first thing any blackjack player must know to be successful is basic strategy. Basic strategy is determined by the action that is the most profitable to the player. With the basic strategy trainer you can practice basic strategy and it will give you feedback if you performed an incorrect move. At the end you will be presented with your stats.
The next technique to learn is card counting. Card counting enables you to estimate whether the remaining cards are favorable to the player or to the casino. The easiest counting system to learn is Hi-Lo. With Hi-Lo, we start at an initial value of 0. Cards 2-6 are worth +1, cards that are valued 10 (10, J, Q, K) and the Ace are worth -1, and cards 7-9 are worth 0. When the cards are dealt we will add them to our running count.
For example, at the start of a new deck the count is 0. If a 10, 4, J is dealt, we would add their values together (-1) + (+1) + (-1) and have a running count of -1.
The Hi-Lo system is balanced, meaning the amount of cards worth +1 and -1 are equal in 1 deck of cards. Thus after counting a whole deck of cards, we should have a running count of 0 if we counted correctly. The counting trainer lets you practice counting a deck or cards and removes a random number of cards to make sure you have the correct count at the end. It will also keep track of your counting times. Ideally you want to be able to count a deck in about 30 seconds.
Putting It All Together
Now to put these skills to use. The idea behind advantage play is to lose the minimum while the count is not in your favor and win the most when it is in your favor. To do this we will start by playing our hands using basic strategy while betting the minimum and counting the cards. Once enough cards have come out so that the count is in your favor we will increase the bet.
Some adjustments need to be made when playing a game that uses more than one deck. In balanced counting systems, the number of decks used in the game is accounted for in the true count. The true count is simply the running count divided by the number of decks remaining.
To determine our bet, we will set some triggers. A common set of triggers are: double the minimum when the true count has reached 3, triple the minimum when the true count has reached 5, bet the minimum if the true count is less than 3. You can decide what kind of betting system you’d like to use. In general, you want to bet more when the true count is greater.
Having to convert to a true count adds another chance of making an error. For those that want to use a system that takes the number of decks in to consideration within the running count, try the KO counting system. It is an unbalanced counting system and the true count is unnecessary. Be careful to take note of the initial starting value.
The practice game will help put your skills to use. You can enable helpful overlays or use menu to get a quick tip if you get lost. In 1.0, the rules are set for Vegas strip style. In future updates, this will become customizable.
Real World Considerations
Card counting is not illegal since you are still only using your mind to play the game. But casinos reserve the right to refuse service to anyone and if they suspect that you are counting, you will be asked to leave. To prevent this it’s important to put in the practice so that it becomes second nature.
While advantage play gives you an increased edge, the effects are usually not seen in the short term. You will have to wait for the long term to really see its advantages. Because of this, proper bankroll management is a must. A recommended bankroll is 300 times the minimum bet.
If you’d like to try it in the real world, I encourage you to do more research and make sure you have a full understanding of the fundamentals. Good luck!