One important thing to note about card counting is that you can't count cards at tables that use Continuous Shuffling Machines (CSM's). Card counting relies on the player having an estimate of how many decks are left to play in the shoe before the dealer needs to shuffle the cards. When a CSM is being used, there is no way to estimate how many decks are left to play, because, as the name suggests, play is continuous. These insidious machines are being installed at casinos all over Australia. So if your local casino only has CSM blackjack tables, and you are still wanting a game where you can use your skill to obtain an advantage, you might as well switch to playing poker.

Card counting works on the concept that some cards are good for the player, while others are bad. Taking note of the cards that have been played can determine whether the remaining cards are beneficial to the player, and altering betting and playing strategy accordingly.

This may sound like a complex process, but it is in fact relatively simple. You dont need a photographic memory, only to be able to add and subtract by units of 1. The card counting system outlined here is called the "HI-LO" method, and is the most commonly used card counting system in blackjack.

Each card is assigned a value of 1, 0, or negative 1 as follows:

Cards 2-6 = +1

Cards 7-9 = 0

Cards 10-Ace = -1

As the cards are dealt, a running count is kept. For example, if the cards 6, Ace, 2, 5, 7 and 3 were dealt, the running count would be '3'. One way to practice counting is to use online blackjack software such as the game at Blackjack Ballroom Casino or RichChicken Blackjack or see my page on online casinos to download some other free blackjack games.

For this running count to be useful, it must be related to the number of cards remaining in the shoe. We do this by dividing the running count by the number of decks left. To determine the number of decks left, estimate the number of decks already dealt by looking in the discard rack, and subtract this number from the total number of decks used.

The figure from this calculation is called the "true count", and it is this figure that we base all our play and betting variations.

Now that we have the true count, the big question is what actions should we take. My Booklets will tell you everything you need to know about betting variations and basic strategy deviations based on the true count for your casino. It also includes a step by step guide to learning the art of card counting.

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