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Positive and Negative Counting in Shuffle Tracking

shuffle tracking

Shuffle tracking is a new technique used by advantage gamblers to win in blackjack. By following where favorable and unfavorable cards go during shuffles, a player can tell when it is good to bet more money and when he or she should bet conservatively. This article discusses counting in shuffle tracking and how to avoid confusing it with card counting.

Card Counting and Shuffle Tracking

Most blackjack players who want to try shuffle tracking are usually expert card counters. A problem can arise here because the count in shuffle tracking means the opposite to what is used in card counting. When you count cards, a negative count is bad and it means you should bet minimum, while a positive count is good and it means the odds are in one's favor. But in shuffle tracking it is the opposite: a negative count is desirable and one should wager more; a positive count is bad news for the shuffle tracker.

Positive and Negative Counting

This difference is due to the fact that in card counting, it is the dealt cards that the player counts; in shuffle tracking it is unplayed cards that are monitored. To give an example, let us say you are playing a six-deck blackjack game.

Suppose the dealer has gone through about half of the shoe and your count is +5 using the Hi/Lo card counting system. That means there were more low cards dealt out up to now—which is just what you want. What about the remaining half of the shoe? Of course its total count must be -5 since the Hi/Lo system always adds up to 0. That means there are now more high cards left in the other 50% of the shoe. If play continues and you count to +8 before the dealer shuffles at 70%, you know that the 30% remaining cards have a count of -8. You want to keep track of that -8 clump and put it into play as much as possible. Those are the high cards you want to bet more on.

The point is in card counting, you keep a record of those cards that are discarded. But when it is time for a new shuffle, these same cards come back into the deck. If you counted one deck in a six-deck game as a +7, that means those were mostly low cards, and it was a good thing because you wanted only the high cards to be left. But when this clump comes back into play, it is the opposite of what you want. It is a portion of the shoe that's full of low cards. So the positive count is undesirable. You want to avoid this portion of the shoe as much as possible through cutting.

This is a brief explanation of counting in shuffle tracking. Please see our other lessons on shuffle tracking, or play blackjack online now at these approved casinos.