Does the Plus and Minus Card Counting Method Work?

The easiest card counting method to learn is called the Plus-and-Minus card counting method.  It’s easy to learn once you learn the reason for it.  This method counts the relative number of 10 value cards in the decks as against the relative number of cards less than seven points.

The purpose is to keep track of 10 point cards because you as the player always play first.  You have to decide whether to hit or to stand but when it’s the dealer’s turn to play s/he has to follow the rules of the game.

This method works best at land based casinos with a full table of blackjack players.  At those tables, you’ll see the most cards.  It works best in games that are played with only one deck.  You can use it in multi-hand online blackjack as well.

Advantages of Playing Online

One big advantage to using it whilst playing multi-hand blackjack at Springbok Casino, the top online casino for South Africa, is because we don’t know why you are taking a little bit more time to make you strategic decisions than other players.  At a land based casino, they’ll see that you’re trying to add and subtract and if the method works for you and you start to win a lot, they’ll ask you to leave.

We never ask players to leave just because they are winning!  So, learn this method and practice it.  You’ll win more playing blackjack.

A very big second advantage to using this method is that you’ll play blackjack at Springbok Casino dozens of times per year and you’ll go to a land based casino perhaps once or twice a year.  Even if you plan on using the plus and minus card counting method only at land based casinos, you can practice counting whilst playing online!   Then, you’ll be well-trained to counting quickly and the pit bosses at the land based casino won’t catch on that you’re actually counting cards.

The Basics of the Method

  • Any 10 value card counts as a -1because it means that a 10 point card is out of the deck.
  • Any card from 2 to 6 counts as a +1 because it means that there are more 10 value cards in the deck. 

When the card counting “score” is in the plus range, you stand with 12 or more points because the chances are good that the dealer will bust.  When it is in the minus range you might decide to hit with more than 11 points.  If the chances are that the next card will be a 10 value card, you have to stand with any card count above 11 points.

  • Most plus and minus methods say that the cards from 7 to 9 count as zero.
  • Most methods count the ace as of equal status as the 10 point cards

Both of the latter two strategy points depend much more on what the dealer is showing.  With these cards, it is much more important to see what the dealer has showing.  If the dealer is showing 7 or above, there is at least a good chance that you’ll lose with 12 points.  So you can count these cards as minus value cards in cases where you have 12 points.  The nine is a plus card if you have 13 points or more and so on.

Card Counting Online

This method also works well when the count goes to either plus 5 or minus 5.  Let’s say that you were dealt two low cards for plus 2.  You hit and get another low card and your point total is still 11 or less.  So you hit again and you might get another low card.  Now the count is plus 4.  If the dealer also has a low card showing you have plus 5 and you would never hit.

You might think that this is a rare occurrence but it happens a lot more often than you would think.

This doesn’t guarantee that you’ll win the hand but it does give you the best chance of winning the hand.  Remember that in the long run just a few hands will determine if you win a blackjack gaming session or if you lose.

How to Practice

The best way to practice is to play online at the pace of the game.  It does take quite a bit of practice to use this method.  You can also just run through a deck of cards saying the running count out loud after every card.  You’ll find that plus or minus 2 is very common, plus or minus 3 is less common, and plus or minus 4 or 5 are even less common but as in the example we showed above, plus or minus 5 is not rare, it is merely uncommon.

Confusion in the Plus and Minus

Players tend to think that a10 point card should be a plus because it will help you get close to 21.  But this method comes in handy only after the dealer deals the first four cards.  When that happens, the 10 point cards are good for you because they make the dealer bust.

In other words, this method is designed to help you force the dealer into busting rather than to help you reach 21!

When you practice, you should count the 7, 8, and 9 as zed even if you might see them differently in a real game.

Counting Aces

One of the big values in just counting aces using the Plus and Minus method is because you might get a situation where there is a fairly high percentage of aces left in the deck.  When you get blackjack, you win 150% of your bet.  When the dealer gets blackjack, they take "only" 100% of your bet. 

In other words, by counting aces you can increase the chances that either you or the dealer will get blackjack and the return to you for blackjack is much higher than the amount the house wins when it gets blackjack.  So the strategy in this situation is to increase your bet.  In essence you will be “going for” a blackjack!

This applies especially well when the card count is in the plus range.  Remember, when the count is in the plus range, there are more 10 point cards in the deck than there would be if the cards appeared perfectly according to their actual values.  Of course, that never happens so you can go for a blackjack when the counts are favorable for that specific strategy.