What does the running count mean in blackjack?

What is Blackjack?

Blackjack is a card game played between a dealer and one or more players. The goal of the game is to get a hand that is worth more than the dealer’s hand, without exceeding 21. Players are dealt two cards and can choose to hit (take another card) or stand (keep the cards they have). The dealer must hit until their hand is 17 or higher. The player with the highest total wins the hand.

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What is the Running Count?

The running count is a system used by blackjack players to track the ratio of high cards (tens and aces) to low cards (2s through 6s) that remain in the deck. The higher the running count, the more favorable the deck is to the player.

How to Calculate the Running Count?

The running count is calculated by assigning a value to each card in the deck. High cards are assigned a value of +1 and low cards are assigned a value of -1. As cards are dealt, the running count is adjusted accordingly.

Example

If the first card dealt is an ace, the running count is +1. If the next card is a 4, the running count is -1. If the next card is a 7, the running count remains -1.

Why is the Running Count Important?

The running count is important because it gives players an idea of the makeup of the deck. A high running count means the deck is more likely to contain high cards, while a low running count means the deck is more likely to contain low cards. Knowing the makeup of the deck can help players make better decisions about when to hit or stand.

How to Use the Running Count?

The running count is used in conjunction with a betting strategy. Players may choose to increase or decrease their bets based on the running count. For example, if the running count is high, players may choose to increase their bets. Conversely, if the running count is low, players may choose to decrease their bets.

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What is the True Count?

The true count is the running count divided by the number of decks left in the shoe. The true count gives players a more accurate assessment of the deck. As the number of decks left in the shoe decreases, the true count will become more favorable to the player.

How to Calculate the True Count?

To calculate the true count, players must keep track of the number of decks left in the shoe. This can be done by counting the number of cards dealt from the shoe, or by counting the number of cards that have been discarded. Once the number of decks left in the shoe is known, the true count is calculated by dividing the running count by the number of decks.

Example

If the running count is +7 and there are 3 decks left in the shoe, the true count is +2.7.

Tips for Using the Running Count and True Count

  • Pay Attention to the Dealer’s Upcard: The dealer’s upcard indicates the likelihood of them having a blackjack. If the dealer’s upcard is an ace or 10, the player should be more conservative with their bets.
  • Adjust Your Betting Strategy: Players should adjust their betting strategy based on the running count and true count. If the running count is high, players should increase their bets, and if the true count is low, players should decrease their bets.
  • Don’t Count Every Card: Counting every card can be tedious and time-consuming, so players should focus on counting the high and low cards. This will give them a good indication of the makeup of the deck.
  • Be Careful: Casinos do not look kindly on card counting, so players should be careful not to draw too much attention to themselves.

Conclusion

The running count and true count are important tools for blackjack players. By keeping track of the ratio of high cards to low cards, players can gain an advantage over the house. However, players should be careful not to draw too much attention to themselves, as casinos do not look kindly on card counting.

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