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Best of John Grochowski

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Learning how to count cards

22 May 2016

QUESTION: I’ve wanted to have a go at counting cards, but I want to do it without spending any money. I play low limits and I want to give myself a fighting chance, but I’m not going to make a career out of this.

Do you have recommendations for how to practice? I’ve found charts online on how much to count each card, but memorizing the chart and actually doing it seem like different things.

ANSWER: When I learned to count, I did it by dealing myself hand after hand with a deck of cards.

With a Hi-Lo count, each ace, king, queen, jack and 10 is counted as minus-1, each 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 at plus-1, and each 7, 8 or 9 as zero. There are equal numbers of plus-1 and minus-1 cards. They balance each other, so when you get all the way through the deck, your count should be zero.

Nowadays, you can do the basic drills of keeping a running count on the computer, whether you’re paying for software or using free online trainers. There’s some excellent software out there with loads of extras for serious players. Casino Verite has long been at the top of my list.

However, you say that’s not what you’re looking for. You want a free trainer to drill you on the running count. One that’s come to my attention recently is at http://www.888casino.com/blog/card-counting-trainer/. That’s the 888 Casino Blog that also is publishing Henry Tamburin’s “Ultimate Guide to Blackjack.”

It offers learners some flexibility. You can choose to count down a single deck or six decks. I recommend starting with one deck, and when you can count perfectly every time, moving to six.

You also can adjust the speed. At three deals per minute, you’ll see a fresh hand once every 20 seconds. At 30 deals per minute, you’ll see one every two seconds. Start slow, then increase speed as you’re comfortable with the count.

The trainer does periodic accuracy checks, and speed is adjustable there, too. You can set it to ask for the running count every 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 seconds. When you’re all the way through the deck, it will give you an accuracy percentage.

Keeping a running count isn’t all there is to card counting. You also need to learn to estimate how many decks are remaining to be played, so you can convert that running count to a true count – running count divided by remaining decks equals true count. You have to learn to apply that count to adjust your bet size, and to make close-call strategy decisions.

Bankroll considerations have to be taken into account, and you have to adjust to pulling all the pieces together in a casino environment with all its distractions.

But learning to keep an accurate count is a necessary first step, and this online trainer can help there.


QUESTION: A while back, you wrote that the IRS was considering requiring tax forms on $600 wins instead of $1,200. Has a decision been made?

ANSWER: There has been no formal announcement, but in an article in CDC Gaming Reports, Mark Gruetze reported the IRS appeared to be backing off the plan.

American Gaming Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman spoke at a conference in Pittsburgh and said, “My understanding is that they have taken a step back from their proposal. They’re going to look at alternative ways and ultimately work with us to solve the problem that they think exists.”

There may still be changes in the way casino players are taxed, but a lowering of the W-2G threshold appears not to be among those changes.
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski