What is ‘Back Counting’?
Back counting is a specific form of card counting in Blackjack, also known as ‘Wonging‘, after the early proponent of the system, Stanford Wong. Unlike regular card counting, which involves remaining in a game for a long time and adjusting the size of bets relative to the probability of a favorable outcome, back counting instead involves the player standing behind an ongoing game in a casino and counting cards as the game progresses. When the remaining cards are enough to give the player an advantage, they will then enter the game.
‘Back Counting’ Explained
Regular card counting is a system whereby the player will assign a numerical value to each card and take a running count of a game of Blackjack. The values are determined by whether they will produce a more favorable or less favorable game to the player, and essentially measure how many cards that skew the game in favor of the player, rather than the dealer, are left in the game (this generally means high-scoring cards, although most card-counting systems have sophisticated numbers assigned to each card). The player will then bet high when the count is favorable, and low when it is unfavorable.
Back counting, instead, attempts to give players a way to take advantage of card counting without having to waste money on smaller bets at unfavorable odds. This increases the advantage for the player over the course of the game. However, the system can have disadvantages – the fact the player is not at the table for long means that comps from the casino are rarely obtained, and entering games mid-flow can draw extra attention to the player, alerting the casino to the fact that the player is back counting.
More sophisticated back counting systems are used in groups where card counters will continue to bet small amounts before signalling to a fellow member of their group to enter the game when the odds are favorable.