If you’re reading this, there’s a chance you’ve googled what’s in the title of this article. If this is the case, it’s likely you’ve not had too much luck recently and you’re looking to pull the odds back towards you the next time you take a look into your online casino.
First things first, if you’re unsure as to what card counting is, it’s basically a strategy used to work out what’s been dealt with and what’s still in the pack.
It’s a tactic used in an attempt to pull the inherent house advantage back towards the gambler as it allows players to make more informed decisions based on the hand dealt them and what’s still in the pack to be dealt.
However, proceed with caution. It isn’t illegal, but you’re not going to make many friends amongst the casino’s staff if you’re caught. It’s likely you’ll be asked to leave and blacklisted, and if you’re playing online, you may have your account suspended or deleted.
How do you count cards?
If you think you can avoid detection and you want to learn how to do it, you just have to keep tally of all the cards that have been played. But how?
Well, one trick is to invent a value system for the cards in play. One common one is assigning +1 for cards 2-6, 0 for cards 7-9, and -1 for cards 10-Ace. This is known as the “Hi-Lo” system.
Then, all you need to do is keep a numerical count whenever the dealer deals a card. With your totting up process, you’ll have a good idea of what’s left in the pack based on the numbers.
Casino games where you can count cards
Card counting is possible in any card game that can played in a casino. I mean, you clearly can’t count cards on a slot machine or roulette. Typical examples are:
- Mississippi Stud
- Spanish 21
However, card counting is most prevalent in Blackjack.
What are the countermeasures?
As stated above, to say that casinos discourage card counting is somewhat of an understatement. In the UK, it’s not illegal as such, but in many other countries where gambling is part of the culture, like the US, it certainly is.
As a result, casinos have invested a huge effort and substantial amounts of money in trying to thwart card counters. Countermeasures used to prevent card counters from profiting at Blackjack include:
- Decreasing penetration, the number of the cards dealt before a shuffle. This reduces the advantage of card counting.
- Banning known counters from playing blackjack, all games, or entering casino property (trespassing).
- Shuffling when a player increases their wager or when the casino feels the remaining cards are advantageous to the player (preferential shuffling).
- Changing rules for splitting, doubling down, or playing multiple hands. This also includes changing a table’s stakes.
- Not allowing entry into a game until a shuffle occurs (no mid-shoe entry).
- Flat betting a player or making it so they cannot change the amount they bet during a shoe.
- Cancelling comps earned by counters.
- Confiscation of chips.
- Detention (back rooming).