HOWTO: How to get an edge in Blackjack in 10 minutes (part 1)

Ever wanted to play blackjack recreationally without having to use your brain?

Consider this a quick tutorial on how to minimize the house’s edge on you in Blackjack in just three easy steps.  This is NOT a discussion of using something like the infamous HiLo count but rather one on something called the Ace/10 Front Count – something I’d read about a while back on the Blackjack Insider, a pay-for newsletter at http://www.bjinsider.com/.

IMPORTANT
I’m making the assumption that you already play perfect Basic Strategy.  If you don’t then this tutorial’s not going to help you much.  Playing 99% perfect Basic Strategy is absolutely critical to play Blackjack and win in the long term.  The easiest way to learn is to buy Blackjack strategy wallet cards and simply put them on the table to refer to when you play Blackjack. 
(If you want to learn, check this Basic Strategy exercise program out:  http://www.s-a-g-e.com/blackjack_info/bj_test/Bjtest.html)

With that out of the way, here’s the easiest way to get an edge in Blackjack without burning out your brain:

  • STEP 1Go to a six deck shoe game with good rules; start playing after a shuffle.
    These games are generally easy to find.  It’s really important to play on tables with favorable odds and rules.  I go over this in another blog entry – http://kurtsthoughts.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!97895BBB8AD10F37!562.entry?&_c02_owner=1.
  • STEP 2Place your ‘low bet’; count the number of A/10 cards for the first TWO decks.
    That’s 104 cards.  You need to be able to simply count the number of high cards that come out of the deck as you play.  On average you should count 40, since there are 4 cards each from 10/J/Q/K/A and you’re counting two decks.
  • STEP 3aDouble your bet for the rest of the shoe if your count is lower than 36.
    If you have a 36 or lower, you have a good edge on the house so you should double your bet and keep it there until the end of the shoe.  The lower your count, the more of an edge you have on the house and the more your bet should rise accordingly. 
    – A count of 34 or less is great.  Multiply your bet by 4.
    – A count of 32 or less is phenomenal.  Multiply your bet by 6.
  • STEP 3bWalk away from the table if you have a count equal to or higher than 40.
    If you have a count equal to or higher than 40, the house has a strong edge on you and you need to stop playing, period.  Grab your chips, walk away, or go to the bathroom and take a break.  If you have 36-40, then you can proceed to play to prevent arousing suspicion and expect on average to break even.

That’s it.  The only tricky part is knowing when you’ve gone through 2 decks.  By checking the discard deck you need to memorize approximately when you’ve gone through somewhere between 100-108 cards, otherwise this doesn’t work.

This works because a game with good rules (Double down on any two cards, split aces multiple times) will generally give the house a .5% edge

  • With a front count of 36 or less, you can get as much as a .4% advantage over the house
  • With a front count of 34 or less, you can get as much as a .8% advantage over the house
  • With a front count of 32 or less, you can get as much as a 1.2% advantage over the house
    (For the uninitiated, a 1.2% advantage is really great.  Think about it:  The casino themselves generally break people’s bankrolls when it only has a .5% advantage.  Some professional card counters don’t get a 1.2% advantage using traditional card counting schemes like Edward Thorp’s famous HiLo count.)

There are some additional rules that you can play depending on your front count to even further increase your edge assuming you have a count equal to or less than 36, however I’ll save that for a later post.

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2 Responses to HOWTO: How to get an edge in Blackjack in 10 minutes (part 1)

  1. dru says:

    hey kurt, i came across blog talking about vegas and blackjack. for this ace/10 front count, how often do you use it and how is your success/experience with it?

    • kurtsh says:

      I don’t. I know folks that have used it while drinking to tread water at the tables. The thing is, you only hit a 36 and below shoe every 1 out of 4 shuffles so you’ll go through a lot of cards before you raise your flat bet.

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