Card Counting: Betting and Playing Efficiency

waBlackjack card counting systems are numerous. If you're just starting out, you are likely confused by all the different systems that are available left and right. This article looks at the factors used to rate each card counting system and determine which is right for a player.

Blackjack experts rate card counting systems mainly by two factors: BE or betting efficiency and PE or playing efficiency. The tricky part is that the higher a system's betting efficiency is, the lower the playing efficiency becomes. Why? It is because of the unique role that the Ace card has in blackjack. For betting, the Ace is an excellent card since it can give the player a natural which pays 3 to 2. But for playing purposes, it really sucks to hit an Ace. If you have a 14 starting hand, hit and get an Ace, it's not terribly exciting, is it?

So which do you need, a high betting efficiency or a high playing efficiency? Well, to make it simple, if you are going to play single-deck blackjack, choose a system with good PE or playing efficiency. Make sure the Ace is counted as a neutral card in a side count. But if you are playing multi-deck games, you need a high BE or betting efficiency. So pick a card counting system that counts the Ace as a "good" card.

Multi-deck shoe games must be beaten with large bet spreads. This means your "high" are much higher than your "low" bets. That is why you need a system with a high BE. Those systems with high PE have you bet smaller though you still win.

For single-deck games, the Hi/Low Count is best for beginners. It is easy to learn since the values are on one level only. For multi-deck, the Hi Opt 1 is a good choice. The Hi/Lo has a BE of .97% and PE of .51%. Not bad for beginning play.

One reminder when using card counting systems with high betting efficiency: The casinos are watching you. They know about card counting too and if they suspect you are a card counter, you can be ejected although card counting isn't illegal. High BE is a dead giveaway of card counting so be careful when you use it. To help disguise what you are doing, play dumb and look na´ve. Don't look smart and ask questions like a beginner now and then.