How to Count Cards Like a Pro

One of the best tips for beating the house in a casino game is through counting cards. Instead of keeping continually guessing which card players are holding, you can count cards to help you predict what the next card has to offer. This is what is referred to as counting cards. While it requires a lot of practice, it becomes easier with time.

Benefits of Counting Cards

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Counting cards is a strategy that is commonly used in blackjack. Players need to ensure that their cards are of higher value than those of the dealer. Depending on the casino, face cards can have 10 points, number cards have their value in the hand, while aces are usually 1 or 11. The player’s objective is usually to earn the highest number of points possible. Gamblers can easily do this by understanding the cards that remain in the deck. When they understand this, it becomes easy for them to predict the card.

How Card Counting Works

The idea behind card counting is simple:

  • If the deck has more high cards remaining, the advantage is to the player
  • If the number of cards left in the deck is lower, the house gets an advantage

While many people assume that the blackjack counting strategy is a trick used to cheat casinos, it’s just a matter of adding and subtracting some simple numbers to establish the deck’s potential.

While casinos will make you believe that it’s illegal to count cards, you can’t be prosecuted for doing so. This is because it is simply a deck-tracking process. However, you can get removed from a casino for counting cards.

There are several methods used to count cards. These are:

Memory Technique

This is one of the best techniques for counting cards. It helps players to understand the cards they have played and the cards that are still in play. If you can manage to use this technique, you can easily tell the player with the high cards, and therefore, place better bets. If you can understand when to bet a lot and when not to, it’s easy to be successful. Memory strategies can be divided into:

Rhyme Scheme Method

Many players memorize the rhyme scheme to count cards. For instance, they can use a rhyme such as “Eight kings threatened to save ninety-five queens for one sick knave.” This rhyme represents cards running eights, followed by kings, followed by threes, followed by10s, then twos, then sevens, then nines, followed by fives, then queen, then fours, followed by aces, sixes, and jacks. After memorizing this run, you can then memorize the term “chased” to describe the order of the suit. The term represents clubs, hearts, spades, and diamonds.

After memorizing the above two orders, it’s time to practice. You can start by counting a deck of cards, and counting via the deck through the strategy. You should keep practicing until this is something you can do without much thought. Some players practice by laying the deck in the right order first. They then go ahead and practice with the standard deck. From there they can practice with 2 decks. This is a good technique to help you determine the cards people have played and the ones that are still in place. However, it requires a lot of practice.

The Memory Palace Technique

If you don’t prefer the rhyming method, you may want to consider the memory palace method. This involves creating an area of your mind where you can put people or objects. It could be a place you are familiar with, such as your childhood home. You can use an object to represent the suit of cards and number them according to the number of cards on your hands. If you reach a king of hearts, put its sceptre somewhere in your memory room. But like the rhyme scheme method, this requires a lot of practice. You can practice with one deck before moving to the second deck.

Hilo Strategy

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If trying to create a memory location in your brain intimidates you, you may want to try the Hilo technique instead. The high, low (HILO) strategy involves giving specific values to the cards. High-value cards are given a value of -1, while the low cards are given values of +1. The running count consists of the total of all the cards. If the ratio of high cards is higher than usual, you can wager high amounts to increase your possible win amount in a favorable deck. You should keep a number in your mind that shows you when you should bet, and how much, and when you shouldn’t bet at all.

If the deck has a positive number, it will be favorable to you. In fact, the higher this number is, the more you should bet. This is because the higher the number is, the more the number of high cards that aren’t to be played. To keep track of the high card, low card ratio, you should give a value to the cards. Beginning with zero, add any card that comes to the tally.

  • Cards from two to six should have a value of +1
  • Cards from seven to nine don’t have a value
  • Cards with a value of 10 will take the value of-1
  • Aces should also have a value of -1

Whenever the counts turn positive, increase the bet. Bear in mind that if you have a high bet range, you might draw the casino’s attention. It’s advisable to increase your bet amount by a value of 1 for every point that the tally increases with. When you do it faster than that, the dealer’s eye will be on you.

How to Practice the Hilo Strategy

To practice this technique, take a full deck and riffle it when taking notes. If you count the cards accurately, you should end up at about zero. Try to go through the deck in less than 25 seconds. This will ensure that even the dealer doesn’t get you. Keep timing yourself when you have finished the deck, and it should end at 0 each time. While this is simple arithmetic, you can easily get side-tracked. You might find that you are getting a different number several times during the beginning stage. Remove a card, and put it facing down. Go through the deck and get the tally. Then figure out the unturned card.


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You should bear in mind that counting cards will only give you a slight edge over the house. Therefore, while it can help you beat the casino in the long run, it will take a lot of time and effort on your part to reduce the edge. It’s also worth noting that counting cards may not work in some online casinos. This is because many of the online casinos use a random number generator rather than a deck of cards.

However, this doesn’t mean it’s completely impossible to count cards online. Nowadays, we have operators who use the live dealer blackjack, making it possible to count blackjack cards. You can use similar strategies to count cards online. Use the above tips to get an edge over the dealer.

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