Counting cards in blackjack is not an overnight culture change to your gaming habits. It takes studying, learning and and endless amount of practice for it to become second nature. Even to those who’ve made it a regular part of their game, though, there can be questions that arise from time to time on how to handle something out of the ordinary.
Which brings me to the question of the day – how do you handle conversion of the running count to the true count if the fraction doesn’t work to an even number?
First, let’s quickly review. Running count is what the current count of the hand is, while true count is dividing this number over the estimated number of decks remaining in the shoe. So if the running count is 8, and there are an estimated 4 decks remaining in the hand, that makes for a nice, clean true count of +2.
Most expert and regular card-counters will tell you to do the basic math in your hand, and then just round up or down. If it’s at .5 or higher, you round up. Then, keep in mind where the actual true count number is on close plays and make a judgment call accordingly.
Some players do their math in reverse, meaning they’ve trained their minds to count how many decks have been used, and arrive at the fraction by doing subtraction from the whole. A bit of a roundabout way of doing things, but as in all walks of life, if that’s the process that works best for you, there’s no reason to change – so long as you can keep up with the count changes.
Another related question on this topic has to do with whether you count the cards after the cut but still remaining in the shoe as part of the equation for determining the true count, and the answer to this is a resounding “yes.” The cards exist, and even though they won’t be part of this particular hand, you definitely use them in your calculations.
This is a great question that has bearing on every card counter from beginning up through expert. You have to be able to train yourself to handle quick changes in numbers, and practicing messy division is all part of the game. It’ll pay off when you’re sitting at the table trying to work out a running count of 11 over 3.5 remaining decks. Go ahead, I’ll wait.