2 - Never split fours, fives or tens.
Note: Yes, splitting fours is recommended against five and six provided the casino you play in allows doubling after split. It's still quite risky. Just say "NO".
3 - Split nines vs. dealer's nine or less except seven (stand).
4 - Split sevens vs. dealer's seven or less.
5 - Split sixes vs. dealer's six or less except two (hit).
6 - Split twos and threes vs. dealers four through seven.
7 - Double down soft seventeen or eighteen vs. dealer's three through six.
8 - Double down soft fifteen and sixteen vs. dealer's four  through six.
9 - Double down soft thirteen and fourteen vs. dealer's five and six.
10 - Double down ten or eleven whenever the total is more than the dealer's upcard.
11 - Double down on nine vs. dealer's three through six.
12 - Never double down on hard eight or less.
13 - Always stand with hard seventeen or more.
14 - Hit hard twelve through sixteen vs. dealer's seven or more, otherwise stand (exception: hit hard twelve vs. two or three).
15 - Always hit eleven or less unless doubling.
16 - Always stand with soft nineteen or more.
18 - Always hit soft seventeen or less (unless doubling).
17 - Hit soft eighteen vs. dealer's nine or more, otherwise stand (unless doubling).
19 - Surrender hard fifteen vs. ten (if available).
20 - Surrender hard sixteen vs. dealer's nine, ten or ace (if availble).
21 - Never take insurance or even-money on a blackjack.
1 - Count any card valued two through seven as +1.
2 - Count aces and tens as - 1.
3 - Eights and nines have no value.
4 - Start your count according to how many decks are being played;
a. Single deck begins at 0.
b. Double deck begins at -4.
c. Six decks begin at -20.
d. Eight decks begin at -28.
Note: If you are playing at a four or five deck game with an automatic shuffle machine that countinuously shuffles the cards, there is no use in attempting any card counting techniques. Find another game instead!
5. Bet only the minimum until your count reaches the following amounts;
a. Single deck +2.
b. Double deck +1.
c. Six decks -4.
d. Eight decks -6.
6. Upon reaching these amounts, increase wager 5X.
7. Losing bets are replaced for the same amount while winners are always increased one unit. This continues as long as the count remains at or above the above numbers.
8. Whenever the count drops below the above numbers, decrease wager to the very minimum.
9. Most important: Quit while you are ahead
This system is designed for any number of decks or variations found in most North American Casinos.
Using the following strategies will enable you to play a very strong  game against all of the possible scenarios.
They are presented here in a form that is easy to memorize.
Using these strategies alone will give you a better chance against the casino, but the "house" will still maintain a small edge on you.
A player can actually take away the casino's edge if they can count cards and adjust their bets to take advantage of favorable distributions.
By using the above strategies in conjunction with the following counting methods, one can actually turn the odds slightly in favor of the player.(!)
Although these methods require considerable practice, they are extremely effective.*
Harvey Lapp is a blackjack dealer in Las Vegas and proprietor of euchrelinks.com.
Many of the ideas expressed here are compiled from various other works on the subject, personal experience and research.
Back to Top       Home
Twenty-one Axioms 
and suggestions for counting cards
Part II : Counting Cards
1 - Always split pairs of aces or eights.
H. Lapp '04
Back to Top
* Note: Although it is not illegal to count cards in American casinos, the management does NOT like you to do it. When the supervisors feel like stopping a counter, they will often instruct the dealer to progressively shuffle sooner each time until they are dealing only ONE hand before shuffling again. This is a big hint to quit playing. If the player doesn't stop soon, he will likely be asked by the pit boss to stop playing twenty-one, or even be asked to leave the premises altogether. I would be especially careful counting cards in downtown Las Vegas (Fremont St. area). Personal experience tells me that some of the old-school casino bosses downtown consider card counting to be the same as cheating (and you saw "Casino", right?).
"hard" - any hand that is capable of busting with the addition of a single hit. example; queen + 8 = hard eighteen.
"soft" - any hand that includes at least one ace and can not bust with any single hit. example; ace + 5 + ace = seven or seventeen ( the aces are worth 1 or 11).
Las Vegas Review-Journal - Friday, November 5, 2004
By Rod Smith and Chris Jones - Gaming Wire
Bettor's rights violated, jury finds
Advantage gambler will receive nearly $400,000 for ordeal
  Advantage gambler James Grosjean beat the odds by winning a $400,000 judgement against a Strip casino that a jury agreed violated his rights four years ago.
  The case's conclusion is unusual for advantage gambling cases, which are normally dismissed or settled out of court and for much less, usually between $15,000 to $20,000, according to several local attorneys.
  In Grosjean's case, a Clark County District Court jury recently found Grosjean's rights were violated by the Imperial Palace when security guards at the Strip hotel-casino detained him and roughed him up.
  "It's heartening to see that the citizens of Nevada get it," said Bob Nersesian, a Las Vegas attorney who represented Grosjean, a doctoral candidate in economics at the University of Chicago and author of "Beyond Counting," a "how-to" gambling manual on beating the odds in casinos. "They understand that people can't be rousted for no reason, and that casinos and the Gaming Control Board enforcement agents should be held to the same standards as the rest of us.
  "The illegality comes in when the casinos think that it is against the law for their customers to play the games well. By doing things such as detaining or throwing out advantage gamblers, the casinos become the lawbreakers. This award clearly verifies that fact."
  The Grosjean case started on April 21, 2000, when he was handcuffed and detained by security guards at Caesars Palace for allegedly cheating. Grosjean was winning a card game thanks to a "sloppy" dealer and his own "hole-carding," where a player tries to gain an advantage by catching glimpses of a blackjack dealer's unturned cards.
  A spokesman for Park Place Entertainment Corp., as Caesars Entertainment was then known and which owns Caesars Palace, said casino records suggested he was suspected of marking cards, although Metro police said there was no record Grosjean was arrested or charged with any crime.
  Grosjean and a friend were detained at Caesars Palace for five hours and then taken to the Clark County Detention Center. Grosjean' friend was released the next day, but Grosjean was held in custody for 4 1/2 days.
  Grosjean said last year that his problems escalated several weeks later when he visited the Imperial Palace.
  "I wasn't even playing. I noticed a guard watching me, so I left, but he followed  and he did get physical. He put his hands on my chest and he blocked me from leaving," Grosjean said.
  Grosjean was handcuffed and led to a security cell by six guards who emptied his pockets, interrogated him and threatened "to smack his head against the wall."
  The Imperial Palace incident "is absolute proof that (security officers) who affirmatively acknowledge they have no reason to detain someone, still feel at liberty to detain an individual, and the system and judges back each other up," Nersesian said.
special edition