Advanced Blackjack: Strategy Variation

Basic Blackjack card counting

In basic card counting, you vary your bets according to the true count. If the true count is favorable to you, the player, you increase your stakes. If the true count is unfavorable to you, you decrease them. This is how card counting is basically used. You are essentially using an intelligent betting system which *knows* when it is good to bet high and when it is better to bet low.

Blackjack Strategy Variation

But card counting does not end there. To really make the most of this blackjack strategy, you have to vary not just your bets, but also the way you play your hands. Sometimes because of the true count, it just doesn't make sense to follow a blackjack strategy chart. So you have to be ready to digress from your usual strategy and to know when to do so.

To illustrate this, imagine you are playing six-deck blackjack and have been card counting for a while. The true count is very high. You get dealt a stiff hand like 12 and the dealer's up card is 2. You *know* that hitting would mostly likely get you a court card. Yet your basic strategy chart tells you to hit. What do you do?

You have to stand. That's what you do. And that's just the nature of card counting. Sometimes it is better to do the opposite of what's normally expected.

Varying basic strategy hand decisions serves a second purpose too: It makes you look like an average gambler. Some casino staff are familiar with blackjack basic strategy. When they see you making hand decisions that make no sense from the perspective of normal basic strategy, they will often mistake you for an average, ignorant gambler. That's great because you don't want those people to know how good you really are.

You will depart from basic strategy about 1/10 of the time. That's pretty often and also very profitable. You can get an additional 2-3% edge over the casino with it.

High Count and Low Count Variations

When the true count is low, it means there are more low cards remaining. You can hit on stiff hands more often since you are less likely to bust. But you will also double and split less often. The reverse is true if the true count is high. You must then stand on stiff hands, double and split more frequently. There are also cases when instead of hitting, you will double and instead of doubling, you will just hit.

Value of Strategy Variations

You will not be varying your play all the time. In fact, it will only be about 10% of the time. And of those, most of them will be the stiff hands 12-16. Thus it is most important to know the variations for these hands.

When playing six-deck games, strategy variation will give you about 10% profit. If it is single-deck, the profit is quite high: as high as 25%.

This page has explained briefly what blackjack strategy variation is and why it is important. Used wisely, strategy variation will make your card counting business more profitable.