How Hard Is It To Learn How To Count Cards?
Fundamentally, all it requires is the ability to add or subtract 1 or 2 from a number and to do it quickly. If you have that ability, you can harness it through hard work and practice. Now that is all easier said than done, of course. You have to be willing and able to put in the time necessary to learn the card count the right way - with complete and total accuracy.
In that respect, and others, card counting is not for everyone. Not everybody wants to work hard to achieve the objectives, and in many cases, the expectations are unrealistic. People have the notion that the card count provides a license to steal; that it's all about getting rich quick. But when you consider that even with a 1-1/4% advantage, and a $25 average bet, you're only looking at an average win per hour of about $25, you realize that it's a long, hard grind.
What kind of drills can I use to sharpen my card counting skills?
There are a couple of simple drills which can help you learn to count swiftly and accurately, because, remember, both of these factors are of great importance. One of them is called the COUNTDOWN DRILL.
Don't forget that you are going to be counting cards not one at a time, but in two-card combinations, so set yourself up with a single deck of cards, and begin to count as you deal pairs of cards out. Of course, as you move along, continue to maintain a cumulative running count. For example, if you deal yourself a 10 and a 7 right off the top, you've got a -1 and a neutral card, which gives you a minus-one running count; then on the next pair; it's a King and a Queen, which totals minus-two, making your cumulative running count a minus-three (-3). Go through the deck several times, remembering always that the most important consideration is to BE ACCURATE.
Speed is important, but don't worry about it right away; this will come with time, as you're better able to keep an accurate count. Eventually, you should be able to run down an entire deck in 25 seconds or less. After mastering the single-deck countdown, you may want to expand your horizons even more, by trying the count with two decks, then four, then six. If you can do these in an average time of 25 seconds per deck, that is, 50 seconds for two decks, one minute 40 seconds for four decks, and 2-1/2 minutes for six, you'll be doing alright, and then you can improve your speed from there.
We'd also encourage you to perform a manual drill which we'll call the COUNTING COMBINATIONS DRILL. Your primary drills for counting cards will be done by hand, but this is a good supplemental drill. Go down the list of combinations on the next page and write the correct numerical value corresponding to it, according to our plus-minus count values. Target time for the drill is 30 seconds. After you have mastered the drill, take it one step further and create a CUMULATIVE COUNT DRILL, where instead of writing in the value of the individual two-card combinations, write in the cumulative count as you go down the list of these combos. Once again, accuracy is the priority at first, but eventually you need to get to the 25-second level on this one.