Zak Young
12 min readFeb 26, 2021


How to Count Cards at Blackjack

People say the house always wins, but that isn’t really true. There is one fairly easy winning gambling system, and that is to count cards at blackjack. In the following article, I am going to tell you everything you need to know to beat the casino at blackjack. First, you must memorize basic strategy. Then you want to learn how to keep a running tally of the count while you play. After that, we will deal with true count conversion, index plays, and how to bet based on the count.

The first step is to memorize basic strategy. What is basic strategy? Basic strategy is how to play any initial two starting cards vs any dealer-up card. For example, if you have a 5 and 4 for a total of hard nine against a dealer six, then you want to double down. If you have thirteen against a ten you want to hit. And so on and so forth. There aren’t really that many different hand combinations you can get in blackjack, so memorizing basic strategy isn’t that hard. It is important to note that there are different basic strategies for different rule sets. For example, in a game where the dealer hits on soft seventeen, it is basic strategy to double eleven against an ace, but in a game where the dealer stays on soft seventeen, you would just hit. So make sure the basic strategy you are studying is appropriate for the ruleset that you will be playing. One easy way to memorize basic strategy is to play a basic strategy trainer game, like the one at You can enter the appropriate rules and practice your basic strategy, with the game telling you if you make a mistake. It is absolutely vital that you perfectly memorize basic strategy before you continue. You have to be automatic with your decisions because your brain will be occupied with other things.

You can find a great basic strategy engine here :

How it works is you enter in the rules of your game, and it will print out the right basic strategy. This is a great tool if you are playing a game with an unusual rule set.

Once you memorize basic strategy, you need to learn how to count. There are two drills that will help you with this. They both involve a deck of cards. The first drill is to flip through the deck of cards one at a time. As each card is exposed, say or think its tag value. For a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 you want to say “+1”. For a 7, 8, or 9 you want to say “neutral”. For a T, J, Q, K, or A you want to say “-1”. Do not keep a running count…