Counting cards in a suit as you play

Counting is how you track your own cards and cards in oppositions hands. It is the primary technique you will use to manage your card play.

With Distribution probabilities


Counting cards in your own hand allows you to know how many the opposition hold. It informs ruffing, holding up, ducking, end-plays and squeezes. Developing counting skills requires practice even if is not enjoyable. Counting out a hand is common and the key to good card play.

Counting for Assessing Distribution

Knowing the distribution of cards in a suit held by your opposition enables you to manage your suits. If you and partner have a fit (an 8 card suit between you) you can know that the cards will be distributed in one of several patterns. The most common distributions are

Probability of Distribution Occurrence

  • 4-4-3-2 -occurs 22%
  • 5-3-3-2 -occurs 16%
  • 5-4-3-1 -occurs 12%
  • 5-4-2-2 -occurs 11%
  • 4-3-3-3 – occurs 10%
  • 4-4-4-1 -occurs 3%

Of 39 possible hand patterns, 6  hand patterns comprise approximately 75 percent of the the possible distributions. If you can learn these percentages it will  help with planning your play

Counting for The Defense

All suits have 13 cards and all the hands have 13 cards too. If you discover that declarer started with 1 spade, 5 hearts, and 4 diamonds, you can infer that declarer started with 3 clubs