What is a 'Running Count'?
A running count is part of a system of card counting
used in the game of blackjack. Card counting is a form of advantage play
, where the player seeks to gain an advantage over the house by counting cards to determine whether the game is likely to be favourable or unfavourable to the player and adjusting their bets accordingly.
'Running Count' Explained
In the most common card counting system, the Hi-Lo count, the player assigns a numerical value of -1, 0 or +1 to each card rank. Cards with the rank of two to six are given a value of -1, seven to nine are given 0, and 10 to an Ace are given +1. The player then counts each card as it is dealt, and adds their respective values together to achieve an overall score. This is called the running count. This number will determine how favourable the game is to the player - by betting high when the count is in their favour, and low when it is not, the player can gain a statistical advantage over the house
.Once card counting increased in popularity, casinos began to use a larger number of decks in blackjack, cutting the advantage of card counters. For this reason, the running count is rarely used as the sole method of determining the favourability of the game to the player. Instead, the running count is divided by the number of decks remaining to give the 'true count
', which players will act upon.Card counting is perfectly legal, although it is frowned upon by casinos as it gives the player an advantage over the house. For this reason, casinos will attempt to stop players they suspect of card counting. Occasionally, pit bosses
will force players to flat bet, which refers to betting only the same amount on each hand, eliminating the possibility of using the strategy. They may alternatively ask them to stop playing blackjack or even leave the casino entirely.