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Negative Count

What is ‘Negative Count’?

Negative count describes a situation where a card counter calculates that the cards are not in their favor.

Card counting systems often add or subtract from zero depending on the value of the cards being played: a count that falls under zero is a ‘negative count’. The phrase is most often associated with blackjack, where card counting has a good chance of success.

‘Negative Count’ Explained

Card counting is a form of advantage play which is practised by some gamblers. While not strictly classed as cheating and therefore not illegal, card counting is prohibited in most casinos and card rooms, and players caught counting cards (or suspected of doing so) are likely to be barred from that establishment.

In online games where bets and plays are automated but human behaviour cannot be policed so strictly, the system has more chance of succeeding.

Card counting is often associated with blackjack, where it is easier to keep track of all the cards at the table and where players see many hands over a short time, so the count can run fairly quickly. Most card counting systems assign values or points to different cards in the pack, depending on how desirable they are to hold. These values include positive and negative numbers. Players start with zero when the deck is first dealt, and they add or subtract the assigned value whenever a card appears at the table.

Over time, players can judge from the count when the advantage tips in their favour. If the deck has already called plenty of low cards, the count will show positive and the player knows they can bet high with a good chance of a high card appearing. A ‘negative count’ suggests that betting should be scaled back as low value cards are likely to appear.