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Aces and Fives Count

For blackjack players who have conquered basic strategy (which means they can play near-perfect at all times) and have read and understand the concepts of card counting, the Aces and Fives count may be the best way to profit quickly at the casino with their new skills. As outlined in our card counting section, aces are excellent cards to have in the deck for players because a player blackjack pays 3 for 2.

At the same time, removing fives from the deck is good for the player because the dealer is forced to hit until they get at least a soft 17 (dependent on each casinos rules) and a five will obviously fit into any hand a dealer has to hit. The Aces and Fives Count takes this information into account and provides a small edge for the player when followed correctly with increased wagers at appropriate times.

No card counting system can be successful without doing one simple thing: betting the least amount when the deck is negative, or in the casino’s favor, and betting more when the deck is positive, or in the player’s favor. A card counting system takes this into consideration and helps the player know exactly when to bet more or less.

To be successful, a blackjack card counter has to be able to blend-in with the crowd and seem like any other blackjack player while actually keeping track of the count and changing their wagers. The higher the bet range, the higher the overall edge the player will have. If you can only manage a 1-4 variation (say from £5 to £20) you can expect to play very close to even with the house (assuming liberal Las Vegas Strip rules that include dealer stands on soft 17, double on any two cards, split any pair, double after split).

In order to have about a .25% winning edge, you will need to vary your bet from 1 to 8 units. Doing so may attract attention. In most cases your ability to look the part of the average player, drink in hand, laughing, not appearing too serious, will keep from drawing heat from the bosses.

However, a bet variation (bet spread) of 1 to 16 units can raise your winning edge to about .4% and that’s substantial. Of course you can’t just throw £80 out on the betting circle after a £5 wager because the count went up; you have to be more subtle. You can parlay your wager several times when winning without being noticed, and with the Aces and Fives count you are unlikely to be spotted as a counter, but no sense alerting the bosses!

Practice First

The Aces and Fives count is an easy way to gain an edge with, but you’ll want to get a deck of cards and do some practicing first! Start your count at zero, and then each time you turn the next card over and see a five, add “one” to your count. We like fives!

Each time you turn the next card and see an ace, subtract “one” from your count. We hate to see aces get used except on our own blackjacks! Run through several decks practicing your count. Remember there are four aces and four fives, so when you run out of cards, your count should be zero again.

Now break out some chips and deal a hand for yourself and one for the dealer. Keep the count, play perfect basic strategy, and each time the count is positive, raise your bet. The best way to do this is to double your bet times the positive count: at +1 you bet 2 units, at +2 you bet 4 units, at +3 you bet 6 units, at +4 you bet 8 units.

This is exactly what you will be doing in the casino. Obviously when the count is even or negative you should bet a single unit. This count will put the edge in your favor!

Multiple Deck Continuous Shuffler Games

Not every casino offers single-deck blackjack. If the casino you visit uses a continuous shuffler of from two to five decks you can still use the Aces and Fives system, but there are modifications. With more than five decks in a continuous shuffler, no system is strong enough to gain a player advantage.

Because the multi-deck shuffler will have cards ready to be delivered, the cards currently on the layout will not have a chance to be used again on the next hand, so look for a chance to raise your wager based on the fives on the layout and the absence of aces.

Ideally you want to have at least three players on the game so you are able to see more than 13 cards. The only time you should raise your bet is when there are no aces in play and you see at least one five. When this happens, raise your wager one unit for each five in action: no aces and one five: bet two units; no aces and two fives: bet three units; no aces and three fives: bet four units etc. Depending on the house rules and the number of decks in play you should be either very close to a break-even opportunity with the casino or you will have a small edge of less than .20%

Multiple Deck Shoe Games

If the casino you play at uses four to eight deck shoes for their blackjack game you will need to be more aggressive with your bet spread to gain an edge than with a single deck game. Again, you should practice with your own decks first and make sure you are able to keep the count correctly. Add one for each five and subtract one for each ace. Start at zero with a new shoe and make your single unit wager. Wait until a new hand is starting and your count is +2 or higher, then raise your wager.

Your edge at any time is dependent on the number of decks used, the house rules, and how far the dealer deals into the shoe (deck penetration). With liberal Las Vegas Strip rules and perfect basic strategy play you can expect to gain a .25% advantage over the house with a 1-10 bet spread. To accomplish this, double your bet when the count is +2, triple your bet if it is higher than +2.

On the next hand, if the count is still +2 or above, double your previous bet, which will make your wagers either 4 units or 6 units. If the count is still +2 or above on the following hand, double your previous bet again, making your wagers either 8 units or 12 units.

Taking Full Advantage

To gain an even higher advantage, you’ll need to push the envelope a bit when a shoe stays positive. After achieving 8 or 10 unit bets you can spread to two hands of similar wagers or simply double your existing bet again, thus achieving a bet spread of 1-16 or 1-20. This large a bet variation will be noticed by all Pit Bosses who have any clue about card counting. What will help keep you in action is that your exact play will not be strictly to a plus/minus count.

Another advantage to this system is that you can even walk away from a game when the count gets heavily negative. If you are half-way through the shoe and the count is -10 or worse, you probably won’t get a positive count until the next shoe. Take a short walk or take your chips to another game with a shoe about to be dealt.

Following this system and obtaining a 1-16 or higher bet spread should gain you an advantage over .35% That’s about half the advantage that is obtainable with a one-level count system. A quality card counting system with a side-count of aces can lead to a healthy 1% advantage over the house!

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