The GameMaster's Blackjack School Lesson 4: Card Counting  How To Do It By now you've chosen a counting system that you want to learn and even though it may be different than the Hi / Lo Count which I'm going to discuss here, the methods used to learn it are the same. Just make adjustments where appropriate and you'll do fine, but if you are confused or don't understand something, then email me. The Hi / Lo counting system assigns a "point" value to each type of card in a deck. The first step in card counting is to memorize those values. Here they are
The Power of Card Counting The Hi / Lo count recognizes that the cards 2 through 6 are of greatest value to the dealer, since these cards turn the dealer's "stiff" hands (12  16) which s/he must hit into good hands. For example, a 5 turns a dealer's 1216 into 1721, consequently it is the most important card for a dealer. On the other hand, an Ace is most important to a player, since it's the key component to a "blackjack" which pays 3 to 2. So, as "little" cards are played, they are no longer available to the dealer and since there are an equal number of plus and minusvalued cards in the deck, a "plus" count tells us that there are a higher proportion of tens and aces left in the unplayed portion of the deck. This situation is favorable for the player since the chances for a blackjack have increased and doubling or splitting situations stand a better chance of receiving a high card. Of course, a dealer has the same chance of receiving high cards as you. But remember that the dealer does not receive 3 to 2 for a blackjack, may not double or split and must hit 16 or less. Also, as you will learn in a later lesson, knowing the proportion of 10valued cards in the decks gives you the knowledge to make profitable insurance bets. Learning The Point Values This is the only exercise you will ever need to learn the point values of your counting system. It's the one I use when I'm switching counts for a singledeck game or back again to the one I use for multideck games. Just take a deck of cards and begin turning them over one at a time and recite the point value of each card. If a card is a plusvalue, I don't say "Plus 1"; I just say "one", because it implies "plus" anyway. If a card is a minusvalue, I say "M 1", not "minus 1" because it saves a syllable. For the "neutral" or zerovalue cards, I say nothing  they are completely ignored for counting purposes with the Hi / Lo system.
SingleCard Countdown If you feel you know the point values of each card in your system of choice by heart, you may now begin to count down a single deck. Simply remove any three cards without looking at them (to check your accuracy) and set them aside. Now turn over cards one at a time and keep a running total of their values. Remember your old algebra classes? If you add +1 to 1 the result is 0. That applies here, so keep it in mind as you go through the deck.
For now the key is accuracy; keep at this until you can go through a deck three or four times in a row without mistakes. What you have learned here is called the "running count". Next time we'll work on speeding up your ability to count; can you believe I'll have you zipping through a deck in less than 20 seconds? The babes really love that at parties...
Homework Continue testing yourself on basic strategy by doing the Basic Strategy Reconstruction and Basic Strategy Decisions exercises. You won't win if you can't play proper basic strategy. Begin learning the point values of your chosen system and when you know them by heart  and only then  start doing singlecard countdowns of one deck. See you here next time. Practice! As always, if you have any questions, email me at aceten1@mindspring.com and Ill get back to you ASAP.
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