This post assumes that you already learned how card counting works. It also assumes you’ve mastered the basics of at least one of the simpler systems (probably the Hi-Lo). Your question now is how to make the most money possible.

Most card counters operate at about a 1% advantage over the casino. This isn’t a huge edge, but over time, it adds up.

It’s tricky to make a lot of money counting cards, because the casinos are watching closely to thwart counters. They’ll ban you in a heartbeat if they think you’re an advantage player.

I’ll assume for this post that your counting skills are good, and you’re good at avoiding detection.

Here’s what you need to do next to make more money counting cards.

1- Bet Larger Amounts

Counting cards is all about expected value. Your hourly earnings over time should add up to the product of your edge, your average bet size, and the number of hands you play per hour.

Your bankroll size is one of 2 factors that affect the size of your bets. The other factor is your tolerance for risk.

According to Blackjack Apprenticeship, your “risk of ruin”—the probability you’ll go broke in the short run, before your edge kicks in, goes down as your bankroll goes up, as follows:

  • 200 units – 40% risk of ruin
  • 400 units – 20% risk of ruin
  • 500 units – 10% risk of ruin
  • 1000 units – 1% risk of ruin

If you’re a conservative player, you might be playing for $5 per hand with a $5000 bankroll.

What does that amount to in terms of hourly expected win rate?

1% X $5 X 80 hands/hour = $4/hour

That’s not even minimum wage.

You have 2 choices—you can raise your risk tolerance and increase your average bet size. Or you can increase the size of your bankroll to the point where you can afford to maintain the same low level of risk and make bigger bets.

My strategy would be to immediately double my bet size to $10. This would increase my expected hourly earnings to $8/hour, while only increasing my risk of going broke to 10%.

Really, though—I wouldn’t even do that. I’m just not excited about $4/hour or even $8/hour. I’d just got ahead and play for $25/hand. Sure, I have a 2 in 5 shot of going broke, but my expected earnings are now $20/hour.

That’s not a great living, but it’s something worth doing.

Of course, as your bankroll grows, you can raise your bet sizes even further. My strategy would be to reinvest my earnings into my bankroll.

After 50 hours of making $20/hour counting cards, you’d have an extra $1000 in your bankroll, making your total bankroll $6000 instead.

You could then move up to $30/hand. That would increase your expected hourly earnings to $24/hour.

Think of your growing bankroll as being like an investment vehicle. The larger it gets, the more the compound interest affects its growth.

2- Form a Team

Forming a card counting team might seem to be beyond you, but it’s probably easier than you might think. You don’t need a huge team to start, either. If you find one other player to work with, you can double the size of your bankroll by pooling your money.

And since there are 2 of you, you can play twice as many hands and earn twice as much money. With the larger bankroll, you’re decreasing your risk, too.

If you’ve never started a blackjack team before, I have some practical suggestions.

  • First, start with just one partner. The more partners you bring in, the more complicated the team becomes. It’s better to keep things simple. Besides, it’s hard to find one person you can trust, much less 5 or 10.
  • Make sure he or she is a GOOD partner. I suggest starting with a like-minded friend, but make sure you’re both on the same page about EVERYTHING. It would be awful to ruin a friendship over a card counting team in blackjack.
  • Then, have a written agreement. Treat your card counting team like a business or an investment opportunity. You wouldn’t go into business with anyone without having some kind of piece of paper outlining both your responsibilities and perks.
  • Track your results closely. This goes back to my earlier point about treating your blackjack team like a business. You can’t run a business if you don’t keep detailed financial records.
  • Start bringing in more partners. You only bring in new teammates when things are going right and your bankroll is flush. You should use the same care in choosing a 3rd partner as you did when you chose your 1st partner.

3- Leave When the Deck Gets Cold

I mention this a lot when I’m writing about poker:

Money saved is just as valuable as money won.

If the count is 0 or gets really negative, don’t just sit there making minimum bets. Take the opportunity to move to another table. Or get something to eat. Go smoke a cigarette.

The longer you stay at a table where the count is negative, the worse you hurt your results.

In Sklansky on Blackjack, David Sklansky suggests you shouldn’t spend more than an hour at the blackjack table anyway if you’re counting. (He also suggests visiting during different shifts on a sporadic basis, rather than becoming a regular at a specific casino and at a specific time.)

How does this make you more money?

It keeps your bankroll full, which means you can make bigger bets.

And when you’re playing with an edge, making bigger bets means earning bigger profits.

4- Start Making Basic Strategy Adjustments

Most of the edge you get when counting cards comes from raising the size of your bets when the count is positive.

That’s as far as many card counters go.

But if you really want to maximize the amount of money you make counting cards, you need to learn how to make basic strategy adjustments based on the count.

The only basic strategy adjustment I recommend avoiding is the easiest one—insurance.

When the count is positive, insurance—which is normally a sucker bet—becomes a positive expectation play.

I still think you should avoid the insurance bet, and here’s why:

It’s a huge signal to the casino staff that you’re counting cards. Even the most basic of pit bosses understands that taking insurance some of the time but not all the time is a clue that you’re counting cards.

The other basic strategy adjustments are more subtle.

If you can add just another 0.2% to 0.4% to your edge, you can increase your $20/hour earnings to $24 or $28 per with no other changes.

Yeah, it takes more work and more study. I didn’t promise you a means of making more money counting cards without effort.

5- Upgrade to a Better Counting System

As far as I know, most card counters start with the most basic card counting system of all—the Hi Lo count.

But other counts offer more accuracy, especially when it comes to making changes to your basic strategy.

If you can gain another 0.2% to 0.4% by switching to a better counting system, you’re looking at increasing your hourly earnings by another $4 – $8.

Combine that with tip #4, and you could be going up from $20/hour to $32/hour.

When you think of this in terms of return on investment, the differences start to snowball. Every 1/10% you increase your earnings increases your bankroll by a corresponding amount, which also increases the amount you can wager, which in turn increases your earnings, and so on in an upward spiral of blackjack profits.

6- Start Wonging

Stanford Wong created this technique, and most counters avoid it for subterfuge purposes. But if you truly want to maximize your earnings, Wonging is one way to do it.

Here’s how it works:

You only sit down to play your first hand at the blackjack table after the count is in your favor.

This is tricky to pull off in real life live because—you guessed it—casinos hate this practice.

If you saw the movie 21, though, you saw how team play made Wonging easier. Different members of the team adopted different personas, and one players took on the role of a high roller who was possibly drunk.

One of the other, quieter players, flat bets the minimum at the table and counts cards. When the deck gets really favorable, he signals the high roller, who walks over and places a huge first bet.

Most players who are Wonging also leave the table when the count drops past a certain level, too. They don’t wait for the deck to get negative.

This can increase your earnings dramatically, especially if you have a large bankroll.

7- Stop Tipping

I always advise gamblers to tip their dealers and cocktail waitresses.

But if you’re playing blackjack for a living, you can’t afford to give away anything.

Think about it this way:

In the 1st example, I suggested that you could only earn $4/hour counting cards.

If you tip the dealer $5/hour, you’re still operating at a loss. You’ll eventually go broke.

If you’re earning $8/hour and tipping the dealer $5/hour, you’re giving away 62.5% of your profit.

The only time it makes sense to tip the dealer is if you’re a really big player, but even then, tipping will always decrease the amount of profit you make.

It’s impossible to tip well and increase your blackjack earnings at the same time.


If you’re a beginning card counter, you were probably wondering how to earn more money at the blackjack tables. Now you have 7 specific, actionable strategies for doing just that.

Do you have additional tips for how to make more money counting cards?

If so, leave them in the comments below.

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