Once you've mastered the art of basic Hi-Lo card counting, you are probably done with counting off cards on your fingers. When you want to progress to more complex techniques, you have several options to choose from.
The Omega II technique is a 'balanced' system, where you have 0 as base. Bryce Carlson developed this and wrote a book about card counting back in 1992. It is more sophisticated than the classic +1,0 and -1 values.
2, 3 or 7 are valued as 1
4, 5 and 6 are valued as 2
9 is valued as -1
10 and all face cards are -2
8 and Ace cards are 0
A positive count reflects that more low cards are present in the deck being dealt. A negative count means a large number of high cards are in the deck still.
The name for this system comes from its creator Stanford Wong. It's considered an advanced strategy on account of its assigned values, some of which are fractions.
3, 4 and 6 are valued as 1
2 and 7 are valued at 0.5
5 is valued as 1.5
8 is valued as 0
9 is valued as -0.5
10, Ace and face cards are -1
Wong Halves is a 'balanced' system, meaning that when a deck is dealt completely, your count should be 0. You can simplify the strategy by doubling up all the values to avoid using fractions altogether.
Some card counters make it a team effort. The benefit of this is that multiple decks, on multiple tables, can be counted simultaneously. The team use signals to communicate with one another while avoiding detection. In this way, they can tell hovering players when to join in a hand, and whether to bet big or not.
This strategy was employed by a team of students and alumni at MIT to win millions of dollars from multiple casinos for years. Once uncovered, their escapades became the subject of a best-selling book. In 2008, their story became a Hollywood movie called 21.
Counting Multiple Decks
One of the ways casinos try to counteract card counting is by using multiple decks. This in theory makes it harder for card counters to keep track of the running total. If you come up against a dealer using multiple decks in blackjack, you can still use the Hi-Lo strategy. All you need to do is divide the running count by the number of decks remaining. This will give you what is called a 'true count'.
Your true count figure, rather than your running count, dictates your advantage when multiple decks are involved. You must keep an accurate running total to enable you to work out the true count value. For example, if your running total is 5 and there are 2 decks remaining, your true count will be 2.5 (because 5 divided by 2 is 2.5).
Which Strategy is the Best?
The easiest strategy to master is the Hi-Lo approach. For first time card counters it's advisable to start here and see how you get on. As your ability increases, on top of counting you can choose to advance to an alternative blackjack strategy should you feel it necessary. Of course, you need to be 100% confident that you have mastered the game itself before you even attempt card counting. We have got plenty of other tips on playing blackjack which you can employ in your game technique.