Best Answer

Successful card counting depends on a number of factors. The most accurate counting methods are often the most complex, which makes them more difficult to master (and consequently, less effective), particularly in a casino environment.

I lived in Nevada for 3 years in the late 1990s and taught myself the 2-level count in Bryce Carlson's book, "Blackjack for Blood." It took several months of practice before I felt I was ready to start using the system, but while I was there, I won over $20,000 playing blackjack on weekends. I started at $2 tables and eventually played almost exclusively at $25 tables.

Before you try learning to count, make sure you know basic strategy perfectly. If you don't know basic strategy, there's no point at all trying to learn card counting.

I started by counting down decks of cards (one card at a time to start, then two at a time) in my apartment until I could count faster than I could deal and predict the value of the last cards 100% of the time.

The second step was to practice counting in a casino. I sat at $2 tables and flat bet the minimum for hours until I could keep track of the count, talk to the dealer and the players around me and order my one beer (and endless Cokes) per session. Eventually counting became almost automatic.

The final step was to implement the betting and card play changes based on the count. Play with discipline--set limits and stick to them. Don't chase your losses--and there will be plenty. Card counting only shifts the odds in your favor by a couple percent at best, so you have to be in it for the long haul. Card counting isn't something you can learn from a book right before you head to Vegas for a weekend.

Back when I was playing, there were plenty of two-deck, hand-dealt games in Reno, so the conditions for card counting were ideal. I was barred from one small casino in Carson City, but never felt any heat in Reno or Las Vegas.

It's probably difficult to find a good game these days. The last time I was in a casino was 7 years ago, and they used continuous shuffle machines, rendering card counting useless. I haven't been back since.

Even under bad counting conditions, blackjack usually offers the best odds in the casino for somebody who plays perfect basic strategy, so it's the best way to spend a few hours in a casino.

Good luck!

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Q: What is the most effective card counting method?
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