Whether you’re spinning some reels at Paddy Power Games or you’ve found the casino in Dragon Quest, it’s worthwhile knowing how to play the games to win. While slot games are based almost purely on luck, there can be an element of strategy involved with some of the other games – in particular, the card ones. Poker’s always a classic, you get ahead by playing your opponent but the game for real casinos pros has to be Blackjack. You see it in movies like 21 and Rainman but if you have your wits about you enough you can easily make a killing at the Blackjack tables, even removing the House Edge entirely if you play it smart enough.

So how do you do it?

The Key to Counting Cards

Card Counting is perhaps misunderstood by a lot of people, it isn’t about counting every individual card as it comes out, it becomes incredibly complicated and your margin for error will get way higher as a result. It’s also largely unnecessary as the suits aren’t important to Blackjack, only the value, and even then, you can broadly group cards together and still receive a fairly accurate count. Which is, in fact, what most card counting systems will recommend. You assign a value to certain cards either positive, negative or nil and then all you have to do is keep track to see how many cards of those values have come out.

Perhaps easier to explain using an actual system, Hi-Lo is one of the easier systems to grasp.

You assign the value of +1 to all the cards ranked 2-6 so every card that comes out which is one of those values adds +1 to the count. So, for example, if you see one player get dealt a pair of three and you get dealt a five and a six, your total count is +4.

You assign a value of -1 to all the cards ranked between 10-A, so all of the face cards and 10. To use another example, if you see one player get dealt a jack and a ten and you get a pair of queens, the total count will be -4.

For any cards with the value 7, 8 or 9 you add nothing to the count, it’s a flat zero.

This may seem easy but it’ll take some practice to get down – the end result is that you get to have some insight into what you’re likely to see coming up in future hands. Using our earlier examples, if the count is up to +4 then you would expect the next few cards to come out to be in the 7-A range as there have been more of the low value cards, improving the odds for you to be dealt a favourable hand.

This is at the heart of Card Counting in every system, whether you use Hi-Lo or something a little more complicated like Omega II or Red 7, you’ll be assigning values to cards and working from there.