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Counting Cards
 

So far, everything presented here has been aimed at reducing the house edge. For most players, basic strategy will be as far as they want to go. They will still lose more money than they win, but they will be competitive, have more winning sessions than before they learned basic, and be able to hang in the game longer than they used to most of the time.

To gain an edge over the house and become a long-term winner requires learning how to count cards and how to apply the count. Let's take a look at just what card counting is and is not:
It is not a magic bullet. Counting cards will not make you a winner every time out. Even the best counters will still have losing sessions, and your overall edge will only be about 1 percent-like the house edge against a baccarat player. You'll win sometimes and lose sometimes, but if you're a good counter your wins will outnumber your losses in the long run.

It is not easy. The counting system I'm going to describe will sound easy on paper, but applying it is difficult in casino conditions, with the distractions from the sounds of the slots, the cocktail waitresses, interaction with other players, or the dealer pushing out cards faster than you do while practicing at home.

It is not impossible. Even with multiple-deck games it is possible to count cards. You don't need to be the "Rain Man," able to memorize every card played. This is a plus-and-minus system, in which high cards and low cards cancel each other out, and many cards can be ignored.

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The Psychological Side of Poker
 
People play poker for many different reasons and you'll probably find yours discussed here somewhere. Part S teaches you why mere mathematicians or those gifted with perfect memories stand very little chance of winning consistently in poker unless they can bring something else to the table (with the possible exception of games at the lowest stakes against the weakest players).
 
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