One of the gripes about playing regular blackjack games online is that there aren’t any real cards in play. The cards that you see are merely the result of a random number generator that are presented to you in the form of cards.

Here’s how it works – there are 52 cards in a deck and each time you play a hand, each different card has a 1 in 52 chance of being randomly generated. I hope you are with me so far. Some online blackjack games specify that they have more than one deck but all that means is that instead of each card having a 1 in 52 chance of being randomly generated, they have a 1 in 208 chance for a 4 deck game.

The number of the decks the casino says is largely irrelevant though because there are no physical decks of cards being drawn from a shoe which means you can’t count cards with random generator blackjack games, it’s impossible. Enter live blackjack.

With live blackjack there are real cards which means that you should be able to count cards, right? Not exactly. I tried to give it a go at Bet365 but all I ended up doing was chasing my tail and wasting time and I’m not the only one that has had an experience like this.

## How Card Counting Works

When you follow basic strategy the house has an edge of around 0.5% but the odds change as the cards remaining in the shoe change. Lots of low number cards in the shoe favour the dealer because they are less likely to go bust, pushing the house edge above 0.5%.

High number cards like Tens and Aces favour the player and the odds can not only go below 0.5%, but they can give an advantage to the player depending on how many high number cards are left in the shoe in comparison to low number cards.

Card counting tracks the cards as they come out of the shoe so that the player knows when the odds are in their favour. There are different ways that this can be done but the most popular way is the high-low method. Each card is given a value and the count changes each time a card is drawn, here are the three values.

+1 = 2,3,4,5,6

0 = 7,8,9

-1 = 10,J,Q,K,A

Each time a card is drawn, the count is adjusted in accordance with the three values above. The higher the count gets in plus, the higher the edge for the player.

It doesn’t end there though because you need to divide your count by the number of decks remaining in the shoe to give you the true count. So if your count was +6 but there are 3 decks remaining in the shoe, the true count is 2.

There’s a bit of debate and difference in opinion online but the general consensus is that each true count of +1 puts the odds in favour of the player by 0.5%. So a true count of +1 would make blackjack an even game with no house edge. A true count of +2 gives the player and edge of 0.5. True count of +3 gives the player an edge of 1% and so it continues.

### Why Bother With The True Count?

If your count is +4, we know that there are 4 more high cards in the deck than there are low cards which is good for the player. If there’s only one deck remaining in the shoe, those 4 cards are spread out amongst 52 cards which is great for the player.

If there are still 4 decks remaining in the shoe, those 4 additional high cards that favour the player are spread out amongst 208 cards which is why you need to work out the true count. It’s no good increasing your bets when you don’t actually have much of an advantage.

### Why It Doesn’t Work Online

The less decks remaining in the shoe, the better for the player because you don’t need to divide your count by as much for the true count. At Bet365 they don’t specify how many decks are in the shoe but it is at least 6, possibly 8. That’s to be expected but the problem is that they switch decks when just 50% of the cards have been used. I took a screenshot as the decks were being switched, see it for yourself.

The box on the left shows the number of cards that have been used, the box on the right shows how many are remaining in the shoe and it looks like a 50-50 split to me. If you look at the top of the box to the left, you will see a white card and that’s known as the cut card and it indicates to the dealer when it’s time to switch decks.

Because the decks are being switched after just 50% of the cards have been dealt, there are always three of four decks remaining in the shoe which makes it very difficult to get any real advantage from counting cards. I counted for an hour but never got a true count of more than 1 and I got bored and gave up.

Casinos like Bet365 obviously realise that it’s possible to count cards with live games which is why they’re switching shoes so early to stop it from working. If you want to make money from blackjack by counting cards, my advice would be to forget about playing it online and stick to real casinos where they penetrate much further into the deck and it’s actually possible to gain a real advantage.