when to count
  • Hi,

    I am new to this excellent forum and relatively new to BJ & BJ counting. I have been reading quite a few of your posts which have been pretty useful.

    However, I have a problem which I couldn't find discussed on the forum. I can count the cards in 3 packs ok when I pile them one after each other or in pairs. However, when I play blackjack at home with friends I easily lose the count.
    When do you cardcounters actually count the cards :arrow:
    As they are being dealt? When the first hand has been dealt? When the whole hand has been dealt and the cards are taken in by the dealer? By the way, I use the HiLo system if that makes any difference.

  • USparticus - Welcome to the group, and hope you enjoy it.

    Are you asking about a pitch or shoe game?

  • My question was originally for a shoe game but I would be interested to know why there is a difference when counting between a shoe game and pitch game.


  • Others have given you answers. Here is my approach:

    First, there are two kinds of games, hand-held (pitched) and shoe games where the cards are dealt face-up. Let's take the shoe first.

    Ignore the first card dealt to each player and the dealer. This gives you time to chat, etc, without looking at the cards. As each player gets his second card, count the pair. This is easier since often the pair are self-cancelling (3 and K for example) and the running count doesn't change. Count the dealer's up card also as he turns one over. Now, be careful as if you get behind, the dealer will return to first base and he might hit and bust before you see the bust card and the dealer will take them up quickly... Count the cards as they are dealt now, one at a time as each player plays. You might try two options on your own hand. (1) play the hand first and then quickly count after you make your final decision or bust; (2) play and count a card at the time. Danger here is that you will cross the count with your hand total and lose the count if you are not careful. Either way works.

    Hand-held is a bit different. You only get to see your two cards and the dealer's up card as the cards are dealt. Count them as you see them. Now count what you see. For example, first base takes a card, a 7 (count = 0) and slides his two cards face-down under his chips. You count the 7 as it is dealt. The next player turns both cards face up to double down. Count them when he turns them over, but the DD card will be dealt face-down, so you can't do anything with it yet. Keep this up around the table, counting every card that is either dealt face up or turned over. Next the dealer turns over his hole card (count it) and count any cards the dealer draws. Now the dealer returns to third base and starts the payoff process. He will turn over any face-down cards and you count them as you see them, being careful to not count any cards already face up since you have already counted them.

    As you gain experience, with the shoe game, you can avoid counting anything until the dealer finishes with a player, since you can see his cards. You have to be pretty quick as if he busts the dealer will take his cards quickly and you have to count them before he does...

    Hope that helps...

    Counting them one at a time is a bit time-consuming. And surprisingly, I prefer 2D games (hand-pitched) dealt face-down, it is a more relaxed counting speed compared to the speed-of-light that some shoe dealers operate at..
  • Dr., If you don't already have it I award you an honorary doctorate in explanations. Also, I like to sit at 1st base so I can make my play, then concentrate on all the rest of the cards. In fact I HAD to do this when I was a beginner.
  • Thank you Dr. HiLo for your detailed input!

    I will have a go at that.

  • ISparticus........Good post from DrHiLo.......Follow that and you won't go wrong......I would also suggest when you practice at home, turn the cards over in pairs to get the cancellation process 'down cold' and second nature to you.

  • Will do Grifter!

    Thanks for advice.

  • 1. Buy Casino Verite from qfit. Gives counting drills, from showing you 1 or 2 or 3 (you choose) or random numbers of cards, making you count them quickly, then moving on. You go from there to a full table of hands, you can start with "starting hands" so that each of 7 players have 2 cards + dealer's up card, you can go on to everyone having complete hands. You can have it (and this is really helpful) display the cards turned different ways. IE if you sit in the middle of the table, 1st base and 3rd base will usually have their cards 90 degrees to you since they are on the end. You can even have it give you a jumble of cards, like what might happen when you play a hand-held game, and the dealer gets a blackjack and everyone tosses their cards on the table at once. IE you really can't beat it as it was developed by a counter, for counters, and it is great. You can also play BJ and count, and have it "look over your shoulder" and nag you on bad BS plays or bad BS deviation plays where the count says to do something unusual (split 10's, etc) and it can nag you when you don't bet the correct amount based on the TC (and it does lots of counting countings from Hi-Lo to you name it.

    2. Practice so that you can sit anywhere. In a 2d game, IMHO, things are a bit more laid back, since the dealer has to resolve bets by turning over each player's cards by hand, then paying him off, and taking the cards up. That makes it go pleasantly slow, in a game that is good for counting if you can find one with > 50% penetration.

    3. Don't worry about where you sit. I generally sit in the middle. 3rd base should probably be avoided if you are going to do BS deviations, since you will get some grief from the "ploppies" about hitting that 12 against a dealer's 5, and so forth, not to mention if you choose to split 10's... Otherwise, there is no "best seat. If you sit at 1st base, you get your cards first, which can help if you are a bit slow counting the rest of the dealt cards, since the dealer can't pass you until you are ready. If you sit at 3rd, you can make slightly better playing decisions, as you have seen everyone's cards (assuming a face-up game of course) and know the current true count. This is variable enough that location is not important, with the exception of avoiding 3rd base as I mentioned above, since you'll get howls from the "you are screwing up the flow of the cards" group. :)

    4. As grifter said, get the cancellation down cold. It makes a pitched game a piece of cake as you will see the two down cards of most players (not ones doubling or splitting) as the dealer works his way around the table. And when everyone tosses in their hands when the dealer gets a snapper, you'll be ready to count. Note that you _will_ miss one here and there as the players can (and do) toss their cards in face up, or face down (dealer will turn them over but you might not be able to see both)...

    5. Did I mention you should by the CV software? It is perhaps the greatest thing I've found, and I have not been using it that long, although I have been counting a while. It has gotten my speed (and therefore relaxation) way up, as there is nothing like not having to actually shuffle and deal fake hands, it does it all. All the drills let you adjust the time. You'll get to the point where you can do the 7 players, starting hands, in just a couple of seconds total time. CV also keeps up with your progress for each type of drill and for playing so that you can see how you are improving (or not)...
    I't the best sub-$100 purchase I ever made with respect to playing BJ. :)

    6. One other thing. Figure out how you are going to "count the table" then be consistent. Once you do that, you will see your speed go steadily up, and after a while you can stand between two tables and count both at the same time, and "Wong in" when one goes positive... When you walk thru the casino and find yourself saying "+5" "-3" as you pass BJ tables, without realizing what you were doing, you are "there". :)

    7. This is not a silver bullet. Done right, you will win, but you will see short-term losses. I have won a lot of money on purely negative counts. I have lost a lot of money on big positive counts. It's the "long-term" you are looking at. You can't panic and give up, and you need a reasonable amount of money for your starting BR so that you can play through whatever happens without going broke and having to leave...
  • Gorilla thanks for the advice.

    I expected only a few lines would be needed to answer the original question so cheers for the extra information guys.

    Now back to developing my technique so I can win all my money back that the casinos have stolen from me during my lifetime BC (Before Counting).


Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!