The 10 Count was first originated by Edward Thorp, a former mathematics professor at MIT who is considered to be the man who created modern card counting. Thorp put early computers to use to run vast amounts of blackjack calculations and then went to the casinos of Las Vegas to put his theories to the test. He was eventually barred after winning too much money with his strategies, yet continued to return wearing different disguises.
In 1962 Thorp published his famous book “Beat the Dealer” which detailed the 10 Count system. Even though others had come up with card counting strategies before, and the 10 Count has since been made redundant by other methods, it remains the first publically known card counting system considered to be mathematically proven. Here you can find out how to use it, why it works and what its drawbacks are.
10 Count – How to Use the 10 Count
As you sit down at the table, or when the deck is shuffled you will have a mental count of zero in your head. Then as cards are dealt out, no matter whose hand they belong to they are given a value which is added to the count. These values are:
- A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 = +4
- 10, Jack, Queen, King = -9
While the math here is simple, you are either adding 4 or subtracting 9, you will need to be quick with your calculations especially on a full table with lots of cards on show.
To begin with you should start with your minimum bet as the count goes positive, the higher it gets the more you should increase your wagers. When the count starts to return to zero or go negative you should lower your bets and return to betting minimum.
The whole time you should rely on basic strategy to determine your playing decisions.
10 Count – Why the 10 Count Method Works
In the 10 Count system you are basically keeping track of the odds of receiving a 10-value card. The higher the count goes the greater chance you have of seeing a 10.
When you are playing basic strategy and flat betting the house edge will remain constant across the session. During individual hands the edge can swing in the player’s favor, particularly when there are more 10s to come out. As basic strategy assumes the next card will always be a 10, it will become truer with more 10s available to come. By betting higher in these spots you increase your profits when the game is most favorable to you.
10 Count – Limitations of the 10 Count System
The main limitation of this method is it is only useful for single deck games, which are rare to find now. This is because, as Peter Griffin pointed out in his book “The Theory of Blackjack”, Thorp did consider the effect on the remaining deck after each card was removed. Thorps calculations were based on false assumptions.
As Griffin demonstrated in his calculations the effect of just a one card being removed could create a lot of variance in the house edge. The removal of a single ace for example, can affect the house edge by -0.61% from the house while a 5 can add +0.69% to it.
While these changes had less of an effect over a single deck game, they became a lot more significant in a multi-deck game, especially in the 4-8 deck games that many casinos now operate routinely.
Despite its faults the 10 Count System and Thorp’s book sparked a huge public interest in card counting. It inspired later mathematicians and blackjack experts to go further in examining theories and developing new card counting systems. Thorp himself created a more accurate count along with computer expert Julian Braun in 1966. This was the Hi-Lo count which has since become very popular and is regarded as the best counting system a beginner can learn.