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Running Count vs. True Count

Generally speaking, you can depend on 20-21 cards being dealt out for each round of play at a full table in the casinos at Atlantic City. The same holds true for the Strip in Vegas. Thus, after three rounds of play a little over one deck has been played out. Or as we see it, two half-decks. We find the count is now +8 in a six-deck game. There were originally 12 half decks, and now there are 10 half-decks remaining. If we divide +8 by 10 we get the true count, which is +.80, not quite +1. If the count at that point had been +10, the count would be +1. This is the true count.

Why a true count rather than a running count? Here's why. Suppose after one round of play in a six-deck game, the deck is +10. It sounds impressive, but there are a lot of cards re­maining in the dealer's shoe, approximately 290 of them. A +10 sounds good, but divided by 12 half-decks, it's less than +1 as a true count.

Now, suppose that the count is the same +10 after ten rounds of play. Assuming that 21 cards have been dealt out on each round, the cards dealt out total 210 or approximately four decks, or eight half-decks. That leaves only four half­ decks remaining. We divide our running count of +10 by 4 and get a +2.5 true count reading, much stronger than our earlier +10 divided by 12 half-decks or +.8.

The true count does give us a guide to the real power of our advantage over the house. A +10 after one round of play isn't as good as a +10 running count after 10 rounds of play. In fact, the +10 running count after ten rounds of play is about three timesaspowerful as the one after one round of play. And if it's three times as strong, it deserves a much bigger bet.

There's the key. With our true count we know how much strength our running count really has by turning it into a true count, and we increase our bet according to its power.

That's what the pros do. That's why they win in multiple ­deck games wherever they play. Let's give some examples to make this absolutely clear. We're in a four-deck game, and therunning count is +12. It's a crowded table and five rounds of cards have been played, approximately 102 cards (21 per round). That's about two decks, or 4 half-decks. Since the 4-deck game started with 8 half-decks, there are now four remaining. We divide our +12 running count by 4 and get a +3 true count, a very powerful plus count. We make a big bet.

Now, let's switch to a six-deck game. Eight rounds of play have gone by or approximately 168 cards have been dealt out. That's a little more than three decks or 6 half-decks. Since we started with 12 half-decks for our six-deck game, 6 half-decks remain. Our running count is +12. If  we divide +12 by 6 we get a +2 true count, which is very strong. As can be seen, the true count is always less than the running count, and any plus value on a true count is powerful, and the higher the true count, the more powerful it is.

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