Blackjack Card Values & Counting Cards

Countless players look for how to count cards in blackjack as soon as they familiarize themselves with the game. It is often known as a method to improve the odds of winning, but blackjack card counting is not what most people think it is. In this guide, we will explain the value of the cards and how counting cards in blackjack works.

A List of Blackjack Card Values

If your intention is to learn how to count the value of cards in blackjack, then it is much simpler. You need to know the card values to learn how to play blackjack because that is how you make decisions and understand the power of your hand. Much simpler than poker hands, you only need to memorize the following:

  • 2 through 10: The value is the exact card number.
  • J, Q, and K: Each one is worth 10.
  • Aces: It can be 1 or 11, creating what is called a soft hand.

That is it! With those numbers, you know how many points your hand has and if it is close or far from the longed-for 21 points – and if you crossed that mark, too. Once you understand how blackjack is played and memorize those values, you are good to learn the basic blackjack strategy next. If you want to push another level, that is when we start talking about counting cards in blackjack, which is a whole different story.

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How to Count Cards in Blackjack?

Counting the value of the cards in your hand to know how many points you have is not blackjack card counting. Counting cards in blackjack tables is basically making mental notes to understand if there are higher chances of receiving a high or low card next. This is how we do it:

1. Assign values to the cards

The first step to learning how to count cards in blackjack is to understand the values that we apply to each card. They have nothing to do with their real card values and are meant just for counting:

  • 2 through 6: -1.
  • 7 through 9: 0.
  • 10 through Ace: +1.

With every card dealt in the table, including for you, other players, and the dealer, you consider the values above. For example, the hands below have a total of -2:

Assign values to the cards

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2. Update the running count

As rounds pass by without any deck shuffling by the dealer, you need to update the counting and never miss a single card. Let’s say that, after 15 rounds, the current count is -6. It is essential to keep that in mind and even write down if you are playing blackjack online.

Update the running count

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3. Finding the “True Count”

Basically, the higher the positive count, like +6, the higher the chances of being dealt cards with a lower value. Therefore, hitting with a medium hand would mean less chance of busting past the maximum value of 21.

On the other hand, if the count is negative, such as -6 from the example above, the next cards might be high cards. However, we need to consider the total number of decks. After all, playing with a single deck means way fewer repetitions of the same card. That said, we need the “true count” formula:

Finding the “True Count”

Therefore, let’s consider there are six decks remaining against two or a single deck left with the count of +6:

  • Six decks: Our true count is +1 (6/1).
  • Two decks: We consider the true count to be +3 (6/2).
  • One deck: The true count would really be +6 (6/1).

4. Making a decision

Based on the odds of you or the dealer receiving a high or low card, the decision goes a bit beyond the basic strategy of blackjack. Still, although it sounds quite promising, there are many ways in which casinos prevent people from counting cards in blackjack.

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3 Reasons Why Live Dealer Blackjack Card Counting Won’t Work

If you are dreaming about becoming an expert in blackjack by counting cards, we are afraid it is not much different from other games of chance. Whether playing on land-based casinos or online via live dealer casino rooms, there are three reasons why you should not rely on blackjack card counting.

Deck Shuffling

Decks are shuffled constantly, meaning that all the cards are back in the game and in a random position. Shuffling is currently performed by automatic devices that are both produced and audited for that purpose. That technology is present both in online live dealer blackjack games and in land-based casinos.

When we are playing individual online blackjack games, it may not be obvious when decks are shuffled, making counting cards impossible. As for the other alternatives, shuffling occurs when the dealer reaches the cut card, which is defined to be deep enough to avoid pausing the game too often but not too deep.

Therefore, long before you reach half of the cards, which can still be a lot considering a 6 to 8-deck blackjack, the decks are shuffled, and your counting results in nothing.

Deck Shuffling

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Multiple Decks

If you paid attention up until now, it should be clear that the number of decks in a blackjack game can vary. Counting cards makes more sense for single-deck blackjack tables, in which there are four variants of each card only.

On the other hand, the common set of 8 decks for a blackjack game makes it a total of 32 variants for each card. That makes the game a lot less predictable and clearly results in counting cards in blackjack being pointless.

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When you count cards in blackjack, you need to pay attention for a long time from the moment the deck is shuffled to reach a reasonable count. Besides, the decks may be shuffled before you ever try to do something in favor of your results with that information.

Therefore, combined with the fact that there are multiple decks, there is no point in counting cards, which does not result in guarantees in this game.

Although counting cards will probably not help you win blackjack, we highly recommend that you get familiarized with the basic blackjack strategy. With that knowledge, you can save yourself from bad decisions and improve your chances of winning by simply memorizing the best actions according to the cards on the table. Good luck!


You can count cards in online blackjack, but it has zero to almost no positive effect on your results due to the existence of multiple decks and deck shuffling.
No, it is not illegal, but casinos developed several mechanisms to avoid its use and keep blackjack a game of luck.
No, you will not lose your online casino account for counting cards. The use of that strategy is harmless nowadays, so your results will be just average and not lift any red alerts.
We cannot know when decks are shuffled, as every round begins the same way. Therefore, we could be counting cards that are already back in the game.

While anyone can become rich out of pure luck in games that pay real money, there is no strategy that can guarantee it in games of chance.

No, but Ace is a card that can have the value of both 1 and 11. Also, when counting cards, we are not referring to card values per se but fictional counting for strategy purposes.
No, the rules of blackjack remain the very same when it comes to card values.