Counting - What is your technique?

I've been reading about card counting regarding blackjack for a short while now just a few months and I'm beginning to feel like I've almost mastered the count etc.. and BS is firmly in my mind. That said, I do have one question. When counting do you (personally) count each card as the dealer draws it, or do you let all the first cards be dealt then count pairs as they come out or any other way? I suppose its mainly down to personal preference and what really works for you? I'm just interested to see what you guys/gals tend to use or find the easiest.

I'm using KO as it to me seems the easiest way as a novice count, I've got my count down to between 25-27 seconds which I'm quite happy about, considering I couldn't count a deck in less than 45-50 not even that long ago. This past week whilst on holiday whenever I was free....I was counting cards much to my girlfriends disapproval. Never mind, my count has greatly improved!!



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You really have to count pairs (and even compare one pair of cards to the next hand, sometimes canceling 4 cards at a time) or you won't be able to keep up with a fast dealer.

Trying to count each card as it comes makes your eyes and head move back and forth like you are watching a ping-pong match, a good give away for the pit. Also you have to be watching all the time as the cards are dealt. Better to sit back, chat with the players, act the fool, then quickly glance down and get the count when everyone has two cards. How can he be counting, he doesn't pay attention most of the time!

Also in a face down or pitch game, you need the card pairing skill as multiple cards are going to be exposed quickly and discarded.


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cardcounter0 said:
Trying to count each card as it comes makes your eyes and head move back and forth like you are watching a ping-pong match, a good give away for the pit.
I count pairs for exactly the same reason.

One other trick that is useful is to completely look away when a bunch of people ahead of you have pat hands (17-20). Try to flag down a waitress or something; when the action gets to you and you've got your back to the table, it appears you haven't paid a whit of attention.
Well this afternoon (I'm in the U.K) I dropped into my local casino, knowing they only play with CSM's in the middle of the day I thought i'd sit and just play BS and try counting the cards for practice (but obviously not apply any bets dependent on the count). It seemed like good practice, their CSM dealers are extremely fast so it was a challenge to keep up, but I managed.

I tried both methods, counting in pairs and every card. I took the box and seat closest to the CSM, so without having to bop my head all over trying to see all the cards, I could see them all from basically having my head in one position, I didn't look all rigid...what I'm trying to say is that I was relaxed in the way I was sitting and easily able to see all the cards. I played BS just using minimum bet and I eventually lost £20. As I said, this venture was more of a counting test. I've been doing it religiously recently and wanted to see if I had got anywhere. In all honesty I'd say I found counting each card easier, but I do see the downsides if you cant sit in a seat at either end/counting singles and that counting pairs is less obvious. My counting is ok in pairs, but certainly not up to the same scratch as my single counting. I suppose counting in pairs to closer perfection is now required!!
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One thing you are missing in the counting is pairs vs single cards comparison:
if you are counting single cards, you have to pay attention to every card. Try doing that for an hour or two. You have to concentrate and calculate constantly. You will become wore out or start making mistakes.

Counting in pairs, quickly leads to the 3 extra low cards from the 3 boxes on the left cancel out the 3 extra high cards from the 3 boxes on the right. And maybe 1 more high card -- the count for the entire table is -1. It actually isn't "counting" more like a quick mental "matching".

The "pairing and matching" method means you will soon be able to determine the count for an entire table in two seconds. Now you get a break. Maybe look around to see if the pit is watching. Lesuirely add a +1 or -1 as each player plays his hand.

In addition, attempt to back count two tables at the same time by trying to pay attention to every card!!! By getting good at "paring and matching" standing where two tables are visible (or maybe shifting postion to catch a better view of one or the other tables occasionally) you can back count two tables with ease and still be able to keep an eye peeled for pit activity.
I see what you mean, I'm trying it now...feel like I've taken a few steps backwards, but thats why I'm learn from you all! It's these damn 8's and 9's they sometimes trip me up.

So for process, do you let all the cards be dealt then try matching/canceling or if the initial boxes, say the first 4 cards cancel just eliminate them and do the same on the next 4 drawn?

The reason why I thought constant counting may be a way to count was because my fear is that the first person to play will say take a few cards go bust and have their cards removed from the table hence me not able to make the count. I suppose you just have to be quick to make sure every part of the jigsaw fits together. As for back counting other tables at the same time :eek: not a chance of that anytime soon, also can you actually see other tables that well? I'm not so sure I would have been able to see the cards played on the other table that I saw across from me today. I'm quite in awe of many people in here!

Practice practice practice right?


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When counting down a deck, flip the cards over two at a time. You will learn to automatically count in pairs.

Also remember, the first person can't play his hand until the last person gets his final card. Don't worry.

Soon you will automatically start picking up on patterns, there will no longer be a need to note each individual card, the counting becomes quicker, more automatic.

Consider a table getting dealt three hands:
2 8 A
3 7 K

Note: these three hands should actually look like this too you:
(see? instant 0).

Running count as you count each card individually as dealt: +1, +1, 0, +1, +1, 0
whew! lot of work.

Same using pairing and matching: First hand +2, second hand cancels itself out-ignore it, just go forward with the +2 count and the third hand -2 = 0 for the table. Much quicker.

Notice the individual card count requires 6 operations, and for you to pay attention thru out the deal. Pairing and matching, you can do anything until the final card is dealt, then a quick glance and 3 or 4 operations to arrive at the count.

With practice you will find yourself twiddling your thumbs waiting for hand 1 to decide what to do with his 5.

Here are all the possible combinations (don't look at the individual cards, think of them as low cards, nuetral/ignore cards, and high cards L, N, H)

LL = +2
LN = +1
NN = 0 > learn to skip,
LH = 0 > don't consider further,
HL = 0 > these combinations.
HN = -1
HH = -2

Then just match the LL, LN, HN, HH combinations together and note any imbalance.

HH, HH , HH ? -6
HH, LL, HH ? -4
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Thanks for going to all the effort for that post :) much appreciated.

Yeah, I mean its not like I've only been counting a deck with single cards but I certainly have put more time into it. I think I'll spend the next few days intensively dealing out say 4 hands at a time matching and canceling out. I'm at a point where I have a LOT of free time on my hands and learning all about this is filling the time nicely!

Thanks :)