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Messing up the Running Count

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  1. Overview

Professional blackjack player Don Johnson famously said “Monkeys can count cards”. But as easy as learning to count seems, players still require sufficient preparation before they can implement it effectively. Rookies often struggle to keep a running count and convert it to a true count in the noisy casino environment.

It is not uncommon for novice counters to commit costly errors in the running count (RC), which ultimately prevents them from becoming winning players. Maintaining an accurate running count is vital if you want to beat the house at its own game. Below are three of the gravest RC mistakes you can commit while counting cards at the blackjack tables.

2. You Forget to Update the Running Count

Forgetting to update the running count as you are playing out your hand is a major mistake that can cost you dearly over the long haul. You have to maintain a correct RC at all times, taking into account each card that leaves the shoe, or else you are doomed to failure.

Updating the RC is the first thing you should do after a card hits the felt. You should do it before you add up your hand total, before you consider a basic strategy move, and cheer with fellow players after the dealer busts.

3. You Miscount the Dealer’s Exposed Card

Another common way for novices to mess up the running count is by miscounting the exposed card of the dealer. There are several ways for this to happen and all of them could completely destroy your positive expected value in the long term. Some rookies altogether forget to count the dealer’s exposed card.

Others count it two times – once after the initial deal and again, after the dealer flips over the hole card to complete their hand. Either way, this is a serious mistake you should uproot as early as possible. Remember to count each card that hits the felt no more than once.

4. Mistaking One Card Denomination for Another

As strange as this may sound, novices sometimes mess up the running card by confusing one card denomination for another. This commonly occurs with the 9s and 6s when players count them by looking at the bottom corner of the cards. You can easily confuse the two denominations when you see them from this perspective because they are reversed at the bottom.

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