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The True Count - Penetration of the Blackjack Shoe

Ok, we've learned all about blackjack card counting. But there are situations when it works much better than others. Whenever you count cards, you must begin right after a shuffle, so that you can count every card that comes through the deck, but the further you get into the deck, the more accurate your card counting is.

Imagine I have a gumball machine in my home, and I have 50 red gumballs 50 blue gumballs in it. Every gumball costs a quarter. But if it turns out to be a blue gumball, I'll refund the quarter, and you can have it for free.

If you start counting the gumballs you get out of the machine, you'll know how many of each kind are left. But once you get most of the gumballs out, and you know you've chewed 38 blue gumballs, and paid for only 20 red ones, you know your chances of getting a blue one are no longer 50-50%.

Counting cards is no different. The term for this is penetration. Once you have actually gone through the better part of the deck, your advantage from card counting increases because you have a better grasp of what is there because you know better of what has already been taken out.

This is expressed as the true count. To figure the true count for the simple hi/low system, you take your mental number and divide by the remaining decks. Good card counters aren't afraid of fractions. So if for example, you are +4, but have 4 decks left in the shoes, your advantage is really only +1. But if your advantage is only +2, and you have 1/3 of the deck left, your advantage is a whopping +6.

As a card counter, it is imperative that you understand, and use true count in your figuring of advantage. All card counting systems preach it extensively, but as you can see, the concept is pretty simple to grasp. Other systems have more complex methods of figuring true. You should practice the hi/low system first, and then avoid any system that doesn't extensively use the true count to count cards.

NOTE: Do not forget.. You can not count cards at the online blackjack casinos.

Sam Marshall - Editorial Staff