Updated On: March 22, 2018, 6:33 am

Counting Cards Practice for Blackjack Players

There is a prevailing misconception among blackjack players that only geniuses can count cards. Nothing can be farther from the truth. While some mental agility and alertness are required, these are not beyond the capabilities of the average person. Counting cards is no mystery, as this page will show you.

Practice Counting Cards - Memorizing Values

We assume that you know the basic theory behind counting cards. It is not about memorizing each single card that has been played. Rather the 52 cards in a deck are split into categories, usually three: good, bad and neutral. Each time "good" cards appear during play, the card counter counts a minus. Each time a bad card turns up, he or she counts a plus. Neutral cards are ignored. Every count begins after a fresh shuffle, and the starting value is zero.

Your first exercise is memorizing the value of cards.

Take a deck of cards and on the back of each card, mark down their value as follows:

2, 3, 4, 5, 6 = +1 7, 8, 9 = 0 10, J, Q, K, A = -1

Lay the deck face up before you. Pick up the top card and say in your mind (not your lips) its number. Then turn the card around and check if you got it right. Keep doing this until you know the values by heart.

Practice Counting Cards - Counting Single Cards

Now you are ready to start counting cards! Take a new deck of cards - unmarked - and shuffled them. Draw one card at a time and begin counting. Run through the entire deck. Your starting value is always zero, and the final value when all cards have been counted must also be zero. If not, you made a mistake somewhere.

If the first few cards are


the count is

0, -1, -2, -1, 0, +1, +1

Once this becomes easy, try running through the deck faster. A time of 30-40 seconds is good. The faster, the better.

Practice Counting Cards - Counting Multiple Cards

In a real blackjack table, the dealer hands out cards rapidly. You must learn to count several cards at once if you want to be successful in casino blackjack.

Start dealing two cards from the deck at a time. See them as a pair and count them together.


K, Q = -2 9, 8 = 0 7, 2 = +1 4, 4 = +2 Q, 8 = -1

Tips for Counting Cards

When you count, teach yourself to ignore 7, 8 and 9. Do not even say zero. Just get your eyes used to not seeing them.

Do not move your lips when counting. This is absolutely forbidden as the casino personnel would see it and have you thrown out. Count mentally or, if it is easier for you, picture the number in your mind instead.

Practice counting cards in a noisy place. Leave the TV on and don't avoid company. The casino is like that and you must learn to count amidst the distractions.


Now that's not very mysterious, is it? There is no mystery to counting cards. It just takes persistence and discipline. Once it becomes second nature to you, you can visit the nearest casino with good blackjack rules and start making money.