Let’s start with a very simple system. After you have mastered basic strategy play, this system should only take a couple of dozen hours play to learn but it will dramatically increase your results. This system will involve a simple count, a running count, bet progressions and a few minor adjustments to play.
First the count. Our count will keep track of 10’s and A’s on one hand and 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s, and 6’s on the other. Start by keeping a running count of your advantage or disadvantage. In the interest of simplicity we will start with a single deck. A deck of cards has 4 A’s and 16 10’s ( 4 each of 10, J, Q, and K) for a total of 20 cards that benefit the player. The deck also contains 20 cards that are advantageous to the dealer ( 4 each of 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6). As noted earlier, 5’s and 6’s are “better” for the dealer than 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s but this is a simple count. Much more sophisticated counts exists and the reader is encouraged to master this one first and then begin to look at more complex systems.
So, we know we start with a running count of zero. Twenty cards for the player, twenty for the dealer – no advantage – zero. As play begins, you will add 1 to your “count” for every 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 that is dealt. For each 10 or A, subtract one. The idea is simple. If a 5 is dealt, the deck now contains 20 “10s” and 19 of the “other” cards. More tens is to your advantage so you add one. If a 10 (or J, Q, K, or A) is dealt next, the advantage is back to 0 ( 19 to 19 ). Now you have a running count. As long as play continues with the same deck you will add 1 for every 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 you see and subtract one for every 10 or A you see.
The next step is to adjust the running count so that you have a “real” count for the entire shoe. In a one deck game (which is rare), this is simple; but in a multi-deck game the advantage will be significantly different (though still an advantage). Compare our one deck example with a six deck game. Let’s assume in our one deck game you have seen 11 “10s” and 14 of the “other” cards. This gives you a running count of +3 ( 0 plus 14 minus 11 ). In a six deck game you will have the same running count but the advantage is not as great.
Looking at the actual number of cards we will see the difference. In our one deck example, there are 9 “10s” left and only 6 of the others. If there are six decks in the shoe, and the same number of cards have been dealt, you have 109 “10s” and 106 “other” cards. It is clear that a 9:6 advantage is much different than a 109:106 advantage.
The easiest way to adjust for multiple decks is to divide your running count by the number of decks. In our example, you would have an advantage of +3 if there were only one deck, but an ad-vantage of +0.5 if there were six decks. ALL OF YOUR BET ADJUSTMENTS NEED TO BE BASED ON THE “REAL” COUNT. If you have a real count of +0.5, you have an advantage. If you have any number less than +0.5, you do not have an advantage.
Now that you have counting down, we will discuss what to do with that knowledge. Let’s take a look at a simple bet adjustment strategy that can be mastered by anyone. Start with a base unit for your betting. Your bet on each hand should be calculated based on this base unit of betting as follows. Your “default” bet is 2 times the base unit. When your “real” count drops below 0, drop your bet to the base unit. When your “real” count is greater than or equal to one, you should increase your “default” bet by the amount equal to your base unit times the count.
Let’s look at an example. If you base unit is $5, play would go as follows. When the count is positive but less than one, you will bet $10 ( 2 times $5 ). When the count is below zero, you will bet $5 ( base unit ). When the count is +1, you will bet $15 ( $10 + $5 times count). If the count is +3, you will bet $25, etc.