Blackjack is unique among casino games. Blackjack is commonly played with an eight deck shoe. As play continues, cards are removed from the shoe and placed in a discard pile. This creates a game history. Other casino games are random chance, such as roulette or craps, where each spin or roll is independent of the last play. But in blackjack a discarded card is removed from play and will not be seen again until the shoe is shuffled.
A blackjack player who knows how to count cards can take advantage of this game history. Within an eight deck shoe you know there are 32 aces. If 30 of them have been played and discarded, only 2 remain in the shoe. You can then adjust your play based on the remaining cards in the shoe. That is heart of every card counting system, knowing what cards remain in the shoe.
A casino dealer must hit at seventeen or below. Cards with a value of ten are detrimental to the dealer because he will like bust if he draws one. So the blackjack odds that normally favor house shift to favor the player when there are more ten value cards in the shoe. Using simple card counting techniques, you can learn how to track the number of ten value cards remaining in the shoe. When you realize the odds have changed to your favor, you increase your bet to take advantage of the favorable conditions.
One easy method of card counting is the Red Seven method. The Red Seven count is an unbalanced count, meaning you only need to keep a running count. You don’t need to divide the running count by the number of decks remaining in the shoe to get a true count. Keeping the running count is all that is required. This makes the Red Seven an easy method of card counting.
When a black game is started or the decks are shuffled, you must reset your running count. The running is beginning value is -2 multiplied by the decks in the shoe. So, an eight deck shoe has an initial running count of -16. A six deck shoe is -12.
When each blackjack hand is played, the cards are examined and points are added to the running count. Cards with values between two and six count as +1 point. Cards with values of ten or aces count as -1. Black seven cards (clubs and spades) count as +1 point, while red seven cards, eight cards and nine cards have no value. It is this division among the seven cards that gives the name Red Seven to the system.
The card counting method requires you to use two bets. The low bet is the table minimum. You bet the minimum when the count is not in your favor. The high bet is 10 times the low bet. If your low bet is $10, the high bet is $100.