How You Can Count Cards in an Hour and Beat Blackjack

Blackjack Hand Hovering Over an Abacus

Blackjack is one of the few gambling activities where players can get a long term edge against the casinos. It’s obvious that most blackjack players never get an edge; because the casinos would stop offering the game if they stopped making money.

Some blackjack players don’t know they can get an edge, and some think that it’s too much work to get an edge. I’m going to eliminate both of these excuses. The fact is that you can get a blackjack edge by counting cards and adjusting the size of your bets. And I’m going to teach you how you can start counting cards in just one hour.

Can you learn enough in one hour to get an edge playing blackjack?

Yes, you can start playing with an edge in an hour. It’s not going to be much better than break even, but it’s a good way to start. If you want to play with a bigger edge, you can use what you’re getting ready to learn here and continue improving your skills and your edge.

After I teach you how to get started in an hour I’m going to tell you how to keep working and improve your edge more. It’s easier than most blackjack players think, and all you have to do is learn the proper techniques and practice them.

This might sound simple, and that’s because it really is simple. I don’t understand why more blackjack players don’t count cards. Keep reading and you’re never going to be able to use an excuse like it’s too hard to count cards again.

The Basics

The reason counting cards can give you a long term edge at the blackjack table is because the house edge goes up and down based on the cards remaining in the deck or shoe. A deck or shoe with more high cards than low cards moved the edge lower; eventually moving it so much that you have an edge instead of the casino.

When the deck or shoe has more low cards than high cards, the edge is pushed higher. When the deck has more low cards you want to bet less, or even stop playing. When the deck or shoe has more high cards than low cards, you want to bet more.

The problem for most blackjack players is that they have no idea how many high and low cards are left in the deck or shoe. A card counting system is a simplified way of keeping track of the ratio of high to low cards remaining.

I say that a card counting system is a simplified way to track the ration of high to low cards because many gamblers think that card counters memorize every card that gets played and then subtract these cards from the cards the dealer started with to figure out a ratio.

The truth is that most people aren’t able to memorize every single card that gets played and determine which cards haven’t been played. This is simply too hard. But a card counting system is a tool you can use to skip most of the hard work. In the next section you’re going to learn exactly how to use a simple card counting system that anyone can use.

Closeup of Two Blackjack Hand

Before you learn how to use a simple card counting system you need to know a few more things. The best card counting system in the world can’t overcome blackjack games with bad rules and poor strategy decisions.

If you want to be a winning blackjack player you have to use the best possible strategy on every hand you play and find games with good rules. The good news is that the best blackjack strategy has already been worked out, so you don’t have to figure it out on your own.

You don’t even have to memorize the best strategy. All you have to do is use a blackjack strategy card when you play. The casinos don’t have any rules against using a strategy card, and as you get experience using it you’re going to eventually memorize all of the plays without trying. The only thing you need to know about blackjack strategy besides using a strategy card for every play is to never take insurance or any other side bet.

Every rule at the blackjack table has ether a negative or positive impact on the house edge. Some rules make the house edge go up, and some make the house edge go down. I’ve included a list of common rules below that you want to look for. You’re not going to find games with all good rules, so you need to find games that have as many good rules as possible.

The first rule you need to consider is what the table pays for a natural blackjack, and this is the only rule that is unbreakable.

The blackjack table must pay 3 to 2 for a blackjack, or you should simply not play. Many blackjack games have moved to 6 to 5 payouts for blackjacks, and these tables have a house edge that’s just too high.

Blackjack tables either have the dealer stand or hit on a soft 17. When the dealer stands on a soft 17 it’s better for you. This isn’t a huge difference when comparing the house edge for a game where the dealer hits a soft 17, but it does make a small difference.

Another rule that you need to consider is about doubling down. In general, the more options you have for doubling down, the better. Though few blackjack tables offer it, if you can double down after splitting it’s a great rule.

Speaking of splitting, the more times you can split pairs, the better. The common rule is you can split to three or four hands, which isn’t bad, but if you can split unlimited times it’s better.

You should learn more about how the rules change the house edge, but if you want to get started in an hour I don’t have time to dive into the rules deeper.

The Simple Card Counting System

The card counting system you’re going to use focuses on the aces and fives in the deck. The reason why these tow cards are important is because they have the highest influence on the house edge when they’re removed from the deck.

More advanced card counting systems track more cards so they’re more reliable, but they work the same way as this system works. This means that once you learn how to use this system it’s easy to learn a more advanced system.

Most card counting systems start with a count of zero. Then you add or subtract a number, usually one, from your count. The only problem with this is that many people don’t like working with negative numbers. For this reason, I’ve adjusted the starting count to 10. You can do the same thing with most card counting systems if you don’t like to work with negative numbers.

Blackjack Table With Dealer and Players

Here’s how this card counting system works.

Start with a count of 10. Every time you see a five, add one to your count. Every time you see an ace, subtract one from your count. Make the table minimum bet when you start playing, and continue making the minimum bet as long as the count is at 11 or less.

When the count gets to 12, double your bet. As long as the count is at 12 or 13, stay at the doubled bet level. When the count gets to 14, double your bet again, and stay at this level at 14 and 15. At a count of 16 and higher double your bet again.

As the count goes back down, adjust your bets back to the appropriate level. Remember that when the count is 11 or lower you’re always making the table minimum bet. When the count gets to six or lower, especially in a shoe game, you should consider leaving the table because at this count the house edge is too high.

That’s the entire system in one short section. Using this system with the proper strategy and good rules will get you a small ling term edge. You’re still going to have some losing sessions, but in the long run you’re going to do a little better than break even.


Now that you understand how the system works and know what rules to look for and that you need to use a strategy card, you need to send the rest of the hour practicing. The good news is that all you need is a deck of playing cards. Here’s exactly what you need to do.

Shuffle the cards and turn them over one by one. Every time you see a five you add one to your count, and every time you see an ace you subtract one. After you deal all of the cards your count should be 10. Keep doing this until you can keep track while turning the cards over as fast as possible.

Now start dealing the cards in sets of two and three. Do this as fast as possible while keeping an accurate count. Keep practicing until your hour is up.

Start Counting in a Casino

The final step is to start playing in a real casino. If you followed my advice about practicing as fast as you can, you’re going to find that blackjack in the casino is slower than you practiced. The main things to focus on are using the proper strategy and keeping an accurate count.

You add and subtract for every five and ace you see, whether it’s in your hand, another player’s hand, or the dealer’s hand. You must track every single five and ace.

Don’t Get Caught

The only problem with counting cards while playing blackjack is if the casino thinks you’re counting they’re going to ask you to stop playing. This means that you need to learn how to count cards without getting caught.

Sadly, this is a deep subject that you can’t learn much about in an hour.

It’s not against the law to count cards, but the casino can make you stop playing.

This is good and bad news. The good news is you’re not going to jail, but the bad news is that they might not let you play long.

The best way to avoid getting banned from playing is to move from table to table and casino to casino often. Some card counters only spend an hour or so in a casino before moving to a different casino. Once you try your new counting system in the casino a few times, spend some time learning more about getting away with counting.

Mastering Your New Craft

The next step is to learn how to use a more advanced card counting system. A more advanced system gives you a bigger house edge, and it’s not much harder to use.

I like the Knock Out system and the Red 7 system, but the Hi Lo system is the most popular. Any of these three card counting systems work well if you learn how to use them correctly.


You can get an edge at the blackjack table and you can start in as little as one hour. Use the simple system on this page in combination with good strategy and good rules and you’re going to be playing with a small edge when playing blackjack for real money.

Once you master this card counting system, continue learning about better systems. Pick a more advanced system and spend as much time as you need mastering it. Your bankroll will benefit from your new skills.