What is the Wong Halves System?

Pair of Aces on a Blackjack Table Between Stacks of Chips

If you've ended up on this page, the chances are that you're looking for information on the Wong Halves system of blackjack card counting. If that's the case, then you've come to the right place. We've built this page to help you learn everything you need to know about the system. Even if you don't have the first clue about counting cards or the Wong Halves system, we'll get you up to speed quickly.

At a high level, the Wong Halves system is a more advanced card counting system. As you'll see below, this system is more complicated than others because many different card values need to be tracked. Perhaps the most challenging fact is that some of the values are halves, which is why the name of the method references that. Luckily, we've got a tip for you below on how you can use this system in whole numbers.

On this page about the Wong Halves system, we're going to bring you all of the information that you need to know to use the system to count cards successfully. Below, you'll find basic fundamentals, how-to guides, and even tips on how you can practice the system and avoid detection. At the end of this guide, we've also provided some additional blackjack resources and FAQs.

Those of you seeking to get the most out of this page should consider reading it from start to finish. However, if you already have some knowledge of the Wong Halves System, or if you're in a rush, check out the jump links below. You can utilize these to skip ahead to the sections that matter the most to you.

Basics of the Wong Halves System

Before we get into some of the more detailed things about the Wong Halves system, we wanted first to make sure that we got you up to speed on the basics. Below, you'll find a collection of things that you should know about the system at its core before we dive into how you'll count cards using it.

Running Count

Central to most card counting systems is the idea of a running count. For the Wong Halves system, it's a level 3 system meaning that there are three levels of values you'll need to track. We'll get into more detail about this in later sections. For now, what matters here is that each card in the deck will have an assigned value associated with it. It's up to you to know that card's value and then keep a running tally of the sum of all card values. This running tab is called your running count.

Starting Value

With the Wong Halves system, you'll always start your running count with a value of zero. The same is true for the majority of other card counting systems in existence. You'll also reset your starting count to zero whenever the dealer shuffles the cards.

True Count

Many card counting systems like the Wong Halves system require one more step to help you decide how much to bet. This step is called a true count. The goal of a true count is to help you adequately factor in how many other decks remain in play. Without doing this calculation, your running count will give you a misleading output.

While it seems daunting to need to convert one count into another, it's a relatively simple process. To change your running count into a true count, you need to divide your running count by the number of decks you think remain in the shoe.

Example

If your running count is at 10 and you think there are 2 decks left in the shoe, your true count would be +5 (10 divided by 2). Any time that it's your turn to bet, you'll do this math to help you determine how to size your wager.

Implications

The primary goal of the Wong Halves system is to help you know when you should bet more or less on any given hand of blackjack. While we'll dive into more in-depth detail below, we wanted to provide you with a high-level understanding of the implications of the Wong Halves system here. In short, if your true count is negative or low, then you'll want to wager a small amount of money on the next hand. That's because the system is telling you that you have a low chance of getting blackjack.

Conversely, if your true count is a higher positive number, then you'll want to wager more money on the hand. With a high count, the Wong Halves system is signaling to you that you have a good chance of getting blackjack and the higher associated payout.

How to Count Cards with the Wong Halves System

Up next, we wanted to help you understand how you'll use the Wong Halves system to count cards. Now that you know about the basics of the system, we'll showcase for you how you can use it to help you gain a small advantage on the casino when you're playing blackjack. Up first, here's a chart of the card values that you'll need to memorize to use the Wong Halves system.

  • Start with a count of 0
  • When you see an A, K, Q, J, or 10: Subtract 1 from your running count
  • When you see a 9: Subtract -0.5 from your running count
  • When you see an 8: Do nothing (Worth 0)
  • When you see a 2 or 7: Add 0.5 to your running count
  • When you see a 3, 4, 5, or 6: Add 1 to your running count

For many folks, the idea of using halves is an added complication of the system. Understandably, it's much easier for many to work with whole numbers. Luckily, we've got a way to help you convert the system to whole numbers. Just multiply all values by two, and you'll end up with the values below. Keep in mind that if you use the chart below, your running and true counts will always be twice as high as they should be. That means you'll need to run another division calculation to help you determine your true values when betting.

  • Start with a count of 0
  • When you see an A, K, Q, J, or 10: Subtract 2 from your running count
  • When you see a 9: Subtract -1 from your running count
  • When you see an 8: Do nothing (Worth 0)
  • When you see a 2 or 7: Add 1 to your running count
  • When you see a 3, 4, 5, or 6: Add 2 to your running count

For this section, we're going to focus on using the initial chart with the half values. Whenever you're ready to count cards, you'll always start your count of the Wong Halves system with a value of zero. Then, as each card is dealt, you'll add that card's value from the chart above to your running count.

Here's an example for you: If the dealer deals a jack first, you'll subtract 1 from your starting count of 0. This brings your running count to a total of -1 (0 minus 1). Then, if the next card out is a 7, you'll add 0.5 to your count, thus bringing your running count to a total of -0.5 (-1 0.5). If the next card is a 3, you'll add 1 to your running count, which will bring your new running total to a value of 0.5 (-0.5 1).

When it's your turn to bet, don't forget that you'll have to convert your running count into a true count so that you factor in the number of decks still in use. As long as you're using the initial chart above, you'll just divide your running count by the number of decks you estimate are still in the shoe.

Before we move on, it's essential that we point out one final thing. Whenever you notice that the dealer shuffles the cards, you'll always reset your running count to zero. Because a shuffle resets the patterns of the cards, you'll have to start your count all over again.

How to Size Your Bets Using the Wong Halves System

Up next, we want to help you gain an understanding of how to size your bets using the Wong Halves system. After all, that's the main point of any card counting system. Keep in mind that the primary goal is to bet as little as possible when your count is low and vice versa.

Fully Dealt Hand of Blackjack on Table

The easiest way to size your bets is to use your true count as a simple multiplier.

Another way you can size your bets is through a tier system. Instead of the example above that had you multiply your true count, you can create buckets.

Example

You might say that if your true count is a +2 or +3 that you'll wager 2x the table minimum. Under that same construct, if your true count is a +4 or +5, you might wager 4x the minimum. With this type of tiered plan, you can slow down the aggressiveness of your bets compared to the one above.

Ultimately, you should play around with sizing your bets to find the strategy that works best for you. The two suggestions above are good starting points. However, you'll want to make sure that whatever you settle on has you betting more when your counts are high.

How to Practice the Wong Halves System

Now that you understand the Wong Halves System and how you can use it to size your bets, we wanted to give you some suggestions on how you can practice it. Because counting cards may be foreign if you've never done it before, you'll want to practice it so that you're proficient when it comes time to use it in a casino. By following our steps below, you'll be able to quickly learn how to use the Wong Halves system when playing blackjack.

Count a Deck of Cards

The first great way to practice the Wong Halves system is to learn how to count a deck of cards. For this round of practice, you'll work through counting an entire deck of cards. As each card comes out, you'll assign it the value from the charts above and then add that to your running count. Continue this process until you've counted all 52 cards in the deck.

Start a Clock

After you practiced counting a deck using the Wong Halves system once or twice, you'll want to time yourself while doing it. The goal of this round of practice is to track your improvement. Understandably, things will be a bit slower when you first get started. However, you should be able to quickly cut down the time it takes for you to count the whole deck. As an excellent target to work toward, see if you can cut your initial time in half.

Count Pairs

While counting one card at a time is a good start, there's a better way to make yourself even more efficient. For this round of practicing the Wong Halves system, you'll deal yourself two cards at a time. Then, quickly calculate the sum of the value of those two cards. Once you have that figure, you'll add it to your running count. If you can get this skill dialed in correctly, you'll be able to cut down the time it takes for you to count a full deck of cards.

Add Some Distractions

For your next step of practicing the Wong Halves system, you'll want to try to distract yourself. In a casino, there are all kinds of distractions. From lights, noises, and people, there is a ton going on that can distract you from keeping up with your count. The goal of this step is to help you practice for operating your counts with distractions happening around you.

An easy way to get started is to turn on the radio. Then, operate a running count and see how long it takes you. To kick things up to another level, you can also try turning on the television at the same time. At the end of the day, you'll want to know that you're able to concentrate solely on counting cards even if other things are going on around you.

Have a Friend Help

It's also a good idea to have a friend help you practice the Wong Halves System. When you're feeling solid about your ability to do a running count, have a friend observe you as you do your counts. As you do it, they should be watching closely to see if your body language gives off any body tells. You can have them keep an eye out for you making any weird facial expressions or anything else that might signal you're counting cards. If they catch anything while observing you, make sure that you work to correct those body tells before you head into a real casino.

Practice Division

Unless you're some sort of mathematician, the odds are that you don't regularly do division in your head. For most folks, it's been a long time. However, since the true count conversion requires you to do division in your head, it's vital that you practice it to get the wheels turning again. As you're practicing your running counts, occasionally force yourself to do random division calculations to get everything comfortable and dialed in.

Practice at a Casino

For this next round of practice, you'll have to head to a casino near your home. While you're close to using the skills while you play, you won't be doing it just yet. Instead, you'll practice counting cards while other players play blackjack. The goal of this round is to help you count cards in a real casino setting. To accomplish this, pick a table and count cards while standing behind the table. You'll want to practice this step until you're confident that you can keep up with everything happening in real time.

Use Low Stakes Tables at First

Once you're feeling confident about using the Wong Halves system with our practice tips above, it's time for you to try your card counting skills at a real money blackjack table. However, we think that it's vital for you to walk before you run. To accomplish this, be sure to start at low stakes tables. By going this route, you'll be able to work out any bugs and kinks without risking loads of your money. As you feel more confident in your abilities, you can work your way up to higher stakes.

Tips to Avoid Getting Caught

Now that you know how to practice the Wong Halves system, we wanted to give you some tips on how you can go about using it in a casino without getting caught. Unfortunately, casinos can ask you to leave the table or the casino if they suspect you of counting cards. The reason for this is that casinos are at a higher risk of losing money when folks use systems like the Wong Halves system to get an edge on the house.

Hand Showing Ace and King of Spades 21 in Blackjack

One important thing for you to know is that it's not illegal for you to count cards. No matter where you live in the world, it's legal for you to practice it as long as you're using only your brain. At the end of the day, you're just using basic math in your head to help you calculate your next move when playing blackjack.

  • Play at different casinos.

    As much as possible, always play at various By doing this, you're less likely to get caught as a card counter since you're playing with many different employees in different locations.

  • Play with different dealers.

    If you have to play at the same casino often, be sure to mix up the dealers that you play with. By playing with one dealer too regularly, it may allow them to catch on to your card counting tells.

  • Don't sit at one table for too long.

    Another great way to help avoid detection as a card counter is to ensure that you don't sit at one table too long. If you've been at a table for more than an hour, head over to another one to help change things up with a different set of casino employees.

  • Be sure to play at different times of the day.

    If you do play at the same casinos regularly, be sure to change up the times that you play. By playing at different times, you'll end up with a smaller chance that casino staff catches on to your card counting antics.

  • Limit your alcohol.

    Something else that you can do to help not get caught while counting cards with the Wong Halves system is to limit the amount of alcohol you have. The reason for this is because alcohol can make it difficult for you to keep track of your counts. While you don't have to avoid alcohol altogether, make sure that you're not inebriated.

  • Tip your dealers.

    Always tip your dealers when you're counting cards. Unfortunately, many card counters don't, which is why you'll be eyed as a potential one if you're not tossing in an occasional tip. Aim to tip at least once every half hour.

  • Don't overthink.

    It's vital that you don't think too hard when you're using the Wong Halves system. If you overthink, you may end up giving off a body tell with your facial expressions.

  • Keep your advice to yourself.

    Even if you feel like you have a good read on how you should bet your hand, you'll want to keep it to yourself. By advising other players, you'll get the attention of the dealer. To help avoid detection, don't advise other players.

  • See if you're being watched.

    While you're always being observed in a casino, the point here is to see if you're being watched more often than you usually If you feel like more eyes are on you than typical, it could mean that the casino staff is on to you. Should you end up in this situation, we'd suggest you stop playing for that day and try some other time. Use a friend to see if you can identify what body tells you may have been giving off.

  • Don't bet too large.

    One final way for you to fly under the radar when using the Wong Halves system is to make sure you don't place bets that are too large. Our advice is for you never to bet more than 5x the table minimum, no matter what your true count might say. By betting more than this, you'll get the attention of the dealer and the pit staff.

More Blackjack Resources

So that you're fully equipped to maximize your blackjack skills, we wanted to give you a small preview of some other resources we've created over the years. Below, you'll find a collection of some of our most popular blackjack guides. Check these out to see how they can help you elevate your blackjack knowledge and abilities.

Main Blackjack Card Counting Hub

If you're just beginning your research into blackjack card counting, then you don't want to miss our main page dedicated to the subject. Below, you'll find a link where you can learn all about card counting. Also, you'll gain exposure to several other forms of methods that you might consider using other than the Wong Halves system. Just click the link below to visit this page now.

Blackjack Strategy for Beginners

Counting cards in blackjack using systems like the Wong Halves system is a more advanced blackjack strategy. If you've ended up on this page with little to no experience playing the game, then you'll want to hold off for a bit on trying to learn how to count cards. A better idea is to head over to our blackjack strategy guide for beginners. On this page, we'll get you filled in on all of the terms and basics you need to know to play the game. Once you've got some experience playing, you can always come back to this page to learn about how to count cards.

Best Online Casinos for Blackjack

If you're a blackjack fan, you should consider playing online if you're not already. By playing blackjack online, you'll enjoy the massive bonuses and convenience of being able to play from anywhere at any time using your tablet or smartphone. Using the link below, you can check out our top picks for the best online casinos for blackjack. If you're going to play online, make sure that you use one of these online casinos so you have one of the safest and best experiences possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before we conclude things, we didn't want to leave you without a small batch of frequently asked questions about the Wong Halves system. If you're still in search of some answers, we hope this section will assist you. Just click on a question if you'd like to view the answer to it.

Will this system help me get an edge when playing online blackjack?

If you're playing a traditional form of blackjack, the Wong Halves system won't be any help to you. The same is true for all of the other card counting methods out there. That's because the majority of traditional online blackjack games use automatic shuffling after every hand. When that happens, it's impossible to track and develop patterns with the cards.

However, if you're planning to play live dealer blackjack online, you might be able to use the Wong Halves System. The reason for this is that with a live dealer format, you're able to see the full table and the shuffler. As long as the table isn't utilizing a continuous shuffling machine, you should be able to use this method to help you count cards while playing online.

Can I get in trouble using the Wong Halves system?

If you're unaware, casinos don't like it when people employ card counting systems when playing blackjack. That's because when used properly, systems like the Wong Halves System can increase the chances of a casino losing money on that player. Therefore, you'll want to count cards under the radar so that you're not flagged as a potential card counter. If you skipped the section above about how not to get caught, be sure to check that out now.

From a legal standpoint, it is not illegal to count cards when playing blackjack. As long as you're only using your mind to track the counts, you can't get in trouble with the law. Just keep in mind that casinos can ask you to leave if they suspect you are counting cards based on their house rules.

How will I know if this is the card counting system I should use?

If you've not investigated any other card counting systems yet, we'd suggest you start there before attempting the Wong Halves system. The good news is that there are many different card counting methods out there. What's vital is that you find the one that's the best fit for you. As you look into your options, aim to find the card counting system that is easy for you to learn and implement. What matters most is that you can remember how to use it without any major struggles.

Does the using the Wong Halves system mean I'll always win?

No. By using this card counting system, it does not guarantee that you'll always win. The same is true for all other card counting systems in existence. However, use of the Wong Halves system can help you gain an edge on the casino. That means that when used correctly, you have a higher chance of making money when playing for an extended period of time.

Is this the best blackjack card counting system?

The Wong Halves system is an excellent card counting system. What's fantastic about this one is that it's more accurate than many other methods out there thanks to how detailed it is. However, this system isn't the easiest one to learn out there with all of the values that have to be tracked. If you feel like you're looking for a less challenging one to learn and use, check out others like the Hi-Lo system. With easier to learn systems, you'll lose some of the edge over the house if you can use the system properly compared to the Wong Halves system. However, you'll still be better off than using no system at all.

Conclusion

If you feel like you can learn the Wong Halves system and use it in real life, you'll benefit from using one of the strongest card counting methods available. While it may take a little longer to learn than others, it's well worth it thanks to the added accuracy of this system over many others. For those of you that are new to our website, be sure to check out some of the other blackjack guides that we have here. This page is just the tip of the iceberg with everything we have to provide you. Thanks for stopping by and best of luck with your future use of the Wong Halves system.

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