A Simple Blackjack Card Counting System
Card counting is often seen as a complicated skill which takes many hours of practice to master. While this is true to a degree there are simple card counting strategies you can pick up relatively easily and use without being completely obvious at the tables. While these will not give you the advantage more sophisticated strategies will, they will help chip away at the house edge and give you a better chance of winning than a complicated strategy played poorly. The Ace-Five count is one such method.
The Ace-Five count can actually be found in several different variations. Edward Thorp originally produced a version of this count and since then it has been adapted and reproduced by several other blackjack authors and theoreticians. The Ace-Five count laid out below has been made popular in recent times by Michael “The Wizard of Odds” Shackleford and is designed to work in 4-8 deck games. Here you can find out how to use it, why it works and where it would be at a disadvantage.
Ace-Five Count – How to Use the Ace-Five Count
Before you start playing decide what your minimum and maximum bet will be. Your maximum bet needs to be divisible by 2 and large enough to be useful, although apart from that your only real limitation is your bankroll. You will also need to have confident knowledge of basic strategy as you will following this to make all your playing decisions.
When you arrive at the table or when the shoe has been reshuffled, start with a mental count of 0 and place your minimum bet. As the cards are dealt out for every 5 you see add one to the count and for every ace you see take one away.
When the count goes up to 2, double your bet and keep increasing it as the count goes up. When the count goes back down to 1 or less start betting the minimum again.
Ace-Five Count – Why the Ace-Five Count Works
If you are playing perfect basic strategy over the long-run the house edge will remain constant, although this is not true for individual hands and the actual edge changes every hand, depending on which cards have been dealt before.
The cards left in the deck affects the house edge either positively or negatively and each of the remaining 5s help the house the most, adding 0.67% to the edge. Meanwhile every ace left in the deck, with their ability to make blackjack and flexibility of being played as either a 1 or 11, take off 0.59% from the house edge.
So when your count goes up by 1 each time you see a 5, it represents the fact the deck is moving in your favor and indicates the time when you can profit the most by increasing your bets. The higher your maximum bet is the higher your edge becomes as a result of your betting being much larger in profitable situations. The downside of a bigger maximum bet is, apart from the fact you will have only gained a very small edge back, the larger the swings are in your bets, the more likely you are of being targeted as a card counter by the casino.
Ace-Five Count – Limitations of the Ace-Five Method
Like any other card counting system this will not work in games with a continuous shuffling machine or online where you get a freshly shuffled deck each hand. You also really need the dealer to use at least 75% of their shoe before shuffling again – tables where reshuffling is happening more often should be avoided to increase the effectiveness of this system.
In addition to this you will want a game paying out blackjack at 3/2. Games only offering 6/5 have such a large edge, even using a correct count and flawless play will not be enough to get an advantage over the house.