# New at card counting -- am I doing it right?

#### RollingStoned

##### Member
Hi, I'm new to counting cards (extremely new)... I found a deck in my dorm today and decided what the hell, why not give it a shot.

I've read through lotsa stuff on the forum here and other basic google searches, as well as the lessons found here: http://www.blackjackinfo.com/blackjack-school/blackjack-lesson-15.php Up to lesson 15.

So far, this is what I've understood it to be (roughly) -

2-6 | +1
7-9 | 0
10s / A | -1

I can count through a deck in about 40-45 seconds, almost always ending in a 0, sometimes with a 1 or M1 (minus 1), and I feel I've gotten a pretty good grasp on it. Hopefully I'll get that down to 30 seconds ending with a 0 every time, and eventually to a 20sec.

Basically I set a timer on my phone, shuffle the deck, and go: Have cards faceup in my hand, then count 1 by 1 through all 52 cards, usually ending in 0. Other times I'll have the deck face down, and place 3 cards face up on the table in front of me (I find this much easier due to cards that cancel eachother out.).

^ Am I doing that all right, or am I doing it wrong?

Few questions:

-At the end of each hand, you divide the "running count" by the remaining decks. I almost always play 6 deck bj. So let's say the count is a 10 and about 1 deck is used up, I divide 10 by 2 -> 5 ("true count"?). Now, when the dealer throws out the next hand, do I start at a +2, or do I re-convert the 'running count' back to 10 (multiply true-count by remaining # of decks in shoe) and start at a +10 when I count the next hand?

-If I'm new to the whole "figuring out how many decks are used" thing, and don't want to risk dividing the true count by the amount of remaining decks, could I play a hand or two and wait for there to be about 1 deck in the 'discard pile', then figure out the true count at that time? (So like, I'd only be figuring out the true count every 3 hands or so?)

-How long (for YOU) did it take to 'master' counting-cards to a level where you felt comfortable doing it in a casino?

-Any tips on learning?

Thanks for reading, sorry if my questions have been answered (couldn't find 'em ) or if this isn't the proper place to put this topic.

~RollingStoned

#### Shoofly

##### Well-Known Member
RollingStoned said:
Few questions:

-At the end of each hand, you divide the "running count" by the remaining decks. I almost always play 6 deck bj. So let's say the count is a 10 and about 1 deck is used up, I divide 10 by 2 -> 5 ("true count"?). Now, when the dealer throws out the next hand, do I start at a +2, or do I re-convert the 'running count' back to 10 (multiply true-count by remaining # of decks in shoe) and start at a +10 when I count the next hand?

-If I'm new to the whole "figuring out how many decks are used" thing, and don't want to risk dividing the true count by the amount of remaining decks, could I play a hand or two and wait for there to be about 1 deck in the 'discard pile', then figure out the true count at that time? (So like, I'd only be figuring out the true count every 3 hands or so?)

Any tips on learning?

~RollingStoned
For any new counter, I would suggest going to an unbalanced count. This removes the stress of trying to convert to the TC. You will only have to keep the running count and make betting decisions. Later, with more experience, you can decide whether you wish to change to a balanced count. The 3 most popular unbalanced counts are KISS 3, Red Seven and KO. You can Google each of them to get an idea of how they work, and then there are books on each to describe fully how to utilize them.

#### tthree

##### Banned
Basics

1) RC = 10, # decks played 1 of 6, decks remaining is 5 not 2
TC = 10/5= 2

You never forget the RC only Use TC for bet sizing and index decisions.
Continue adjusting RC with each card you see. You can use the TC for your bet size to make decisions on the hand in most cases. If it is a close call or the RC changes drastically between bet sizing and index decision you can recalculate the TC. Never convert the TC back to RC just continue your RC!!!!!

Round down your used deck estimate to your comfort level with the math. If you are only comfortable with integers rather than fractions you divide by 6 until after 1 deck used up then it would be 5. NEVER ROUND UP. DIVIDING BY MORE THAN THE ACTUAL NUMBER OF DECKS LEFT TO BE PLAYED HURTS YOUR ADVANTAGE AND COULD PUT YOU AT A DISADVANTAGE.This means you dont wait for about 1 deck in the discard tray to change the divisor from 6 to 5 but for more than 1 deck. This difference is what I was stressing in my capital letters.

You figure the TC for each bet sizing decision and your index play decisions (most hands will only involve BS when making the index decision).

The learning curve varies from person to person but to learn what you need to know(counting perfectly, indices and BS, conversion, money management etc) we are talking 6 months or more before you will be truly ready. Trying to quantify the exact amount is foolish. To many variables involved.

The most important thing to learn is money management. Playing undercapitalized (high RoR) gives the casino a bigger advantage than HE. This type of house edge is very powerful and can all but guarantee losing when it is strong enough.

tips. Practice, read , memorize, drill and repeat.

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#### BJgenius007

##### Well-Known Member
tthree said:
1) RC = 10, # decks played 1 of 6, decks remaining is 5 not 2
TC = 10/5= 2

You never forget the RC only Use TC for bet sizing and index decisions.
Continue adjusting RC with each card you see. You can use the TC for your bet size to make decisions on the hand in most cases. If it is a close call or the RC changes drastically between bet sizing and index decision you can recalculate the TC. Never convert the RC back to TC just continue your RC!!!!!

Round down your used deck estimate to your comfort level with the math. If you are only comfortable with integers rather than fractions you divide by 6 until after 1 deck used up then it would be 5. NEVER ROUND UP. DIVIDING BY MORE THAN THE ACTUAL NUMBER OF DECKS LEFT TO BE PLAYED HURTS YOUR ADVANTAGE AND COULD PUT YOU AT A DISADVANTAGE.This means you dont wait for about 1 deck in the discard tray to change the divisor from 6 to 5 but for more than 1 deck. This difference is what I was stressing in my capital letters.

You figure the TC for each bet sizing decision and your index play decisions (most hands will only involve BS when making the index decision).

The learning curve varies from person to person but to learn what you need to know(counting perfectly, indices and BS, conversion, money management etc) we are talking 6 months or more before you will be truly ready. Trying to quantify the exact amount is foolish. To many variables involved.

The most important thing to learn is money management. Playing undercapitalized (high RoR) gives the casino a bigger advantage than HE. This type of house edge is very powerful and can all but guarantee losing when it is strong enough.

tips. Practice, read , memorize, drill and repeat.
I will add. Play with computer first. Keep a log and add session results. Go to casino only after the records show you have won 500 units. (If you thought you are making progress or have learned something from your old mistakes, you may discard the old record, and start a fresh log. The key point is that you need be able to win 500 units from a point.) If you are a genius, it may take less than 6 months.

Computer is a better practice tool than casino not because it is free but you can play 500 hands in one hour. By comparison, you can play only 100 hands with the fastest dealer and no plopplies at the table.

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#### RollingStoned

##### Member
For any new counter, I would suggest going to an unbalanced count. This removes the stress of trying to convert to the TC. You will only have to keep the running count and make betting decisions. Later, with more experience, you can decide whether you wish to change to a balanced count. The 3 most popular unbalanced counts are KISS 3, Red Seven and KO. You can Google each of them to get an idea of how they work, and then there are books on each to describe fully how to utilize them.
Most places I've read, it's said new counters should start with the Hi/Lo count or another balanced level 1 system...?

1) RC = 10, # decks played 1 of 6, decks remaining is 5 not 2
TC = 10/5= 2

You never forget the RC only Use TC for bet sizing and index decisions.
Continue adjusting RC with each card you see. You can use the TC for your bet size to make decisions on the hand in most cases. If it is a close call or the RC changes drastically between bet sizing and index decision you can recalculate the TC. Never convert the RC back to TC just continue your RC!!!!!
Ah ok. Yeah sorry I was super tired when I wrote that last night.

So I have the running count in my head the entire time, and only convert to the true count per hand. After the hand, forget the true count and stay with the running count (when the next hand comes out, I would start at a +10 or whatever the running count is...right?).

Round down your used deck estimate to your comfort level with the math. If you are only comfortable with integers rather than fractions you divide by 6 until after 1 deck used up then it would be 5. NEVER ROUND UP. DIVIDING BY MORE THAN THE ACTUAL NUMBER OF DECKS LEFT TO BE PLAYED HURTS YOUR ADVANTAGE AND COULD PUT YOU AT A DISADVANTAGE.This means you dont wait for about 1 deck in the discard tray to change the divisor from 6 to 5 but for more than 1 deck. This difference is what I was stressing in my capital letters.
So it's better to calculate more remaining-decks than less remaining decks? And round down the true-count (1.8 -> 1.0) etc. Then what about negative counts? If I had a negative count of M1.5, would I round that to M1.0 or M2.0?

Not sure what indices are yet, but hopefully I'll learn about 'em soon.

I will add. Play with computer first. Keep a log and add session results. Go to casino only after the records show you have won 500 units. (If you thought you are making progress or have learned something from your old mistakes, you may discard the old record, and start a fresh log. The key point is that you need be able to win 500 points from a point.) If you are a genius, it may take less than 6 months.

Computer is a better practice tool than casino not because it is free but you can play 500 hands in one hour. By comparison, you can play only 100 hands with the fastest dealer and no plopplies at the table.
I'm looking around right now for something. I found "Proficient BlackJack" or something...but it's kinda...eh? Have any suggestions on anything to get?

#### Ferretnparrot

##### Well-Known Member
You just divide the running count by the number of undealt deck remaining to be dealt.

So in your example, you had one deck dealt out of 6 which would leave 5 remaining. You would divide your running count by 5 which would give you the TC applicable to the next hand.

Indexes are numbers assigned to individual plays that indicate when a new play option (hit/stand/etc) is the better option.

For example, with the hi/lo there is an index of +4 TC assigned to the hand 9vs7

Typically you would just hit 9vs7, but at a TC of +4 or higher, it is in your best interest to double down.

There is a whole slew of INdex numbers for a variety of hands, just take note that there are some differences in the index numbers most notible if surrender is allowed, and if the dealer hits a soft 17.

#### Shoofly

##### Well-Known Member
RollingStoned said:
Most places I've read, it's said new counters should start with the Hi/Lo count or another balanced level 1 system...?

Ah ok. Yeah sorry I was super tired when I wrote that last night.

Not sure what indices are yet, but hopefully I'll learn about 'em soon.

I'm looking around right now for something. I found "Proficient BlackJack" or something...but it's kinda...eh? Have any suggestions on anything to get?
Just what have you read besides "Proficient BlackJack" or something?

#### RollingStoned

##### Member
I was talking about a program / blackjack game on my computer where I could practice counting cards (The program I found is called "Proficient Blackjack", except it sucks.....). Any ideas?

#### Shoofly

##### Well-Known Member
RollingStoned said:
I was talking about a program / blackjack game on my computer where I could practice counting cards (The program I found is called "Proficient Blackjack", except it sucks.....). Any ideas?
An unbalanced count utilizes the same principles as Hi-Lo, but employs a mechanism which eliminates the need for deck estimation and TC conversions. There is a small price to pay for accuracy, but unless the player is perfect in deck estimation and TC conversion (unlikely for a new player), the unbalanced count will serve just as well or better than Hi-Lo.

Keeping the RC, estimating decks, converting to TC, deciding betting levels and playing a hand, while second nature to an experienced player, might be overwhelming to a new player, causing him to lose the count and, therefore, the shoe. The unbalanced count frees the player to concentrate on the count, betting levels and playing the hand.

#### RollingStoned

##### Member
Oh ok..

So I been practicing a bit. I can count a single deck in 30-35 seconds. But I got another deck today and realized how much harder it is (since usually the highest/lowest you'd get in a single deck is about +/- 7, but with 2 decks I've already gotten to +/- 12 or even 14.).

Does anyone remember the running count in their head, then take a 'table count', then +/- the table count to the running count? (the following is probably obvious...), but I can go through the cards pretty fast if they're around a 3 or minus 3. Struggle more when I'm dealing with a plus (or minus) 7'ish. Then obviously struggle the more the count gets away from 0. Hope this is normal?

#### tthree

##### Banned
What is normal. Most people think whatever they experience.

Im not sure that is normal. Im strong in math so its easy for me. Also being born in the early 1960s we had to use math for all our tests in school. I think the newest generation is allowed calculators. This crutch may weaken this generation's basic math skills for some people. Practice, practice, practice and never forget the RC.

#### tthree

##### Banned
Try drilling without starting at 0

You might want to start with a RC of 15 and if you dont end with 15 when you are drilling you made a mistake.

#### ohbehave

##### Well-Known Member
+1 on the unbalanced count.

Just to reiterate... Practice, Practice, Practice. Before long you will keep the count and not even realize your counting. You'll come up with different ways to run the count, such as the one you mentioned regarding counting the table then adding that to the previous running count. There are many ways to do it and you will use all of them at times.

PS CVBJ is excellent practice software. if you can't afford it you can practice with the demo version. i have no affiliation with CVBJ or QFIT.