Counting cards at blackjack is not illegal, but casinos are anything but happy about it. Because card counters have a big advantage over the casino, they cost the casino a lot of money.
And so casinos do everything they can to stop card counters. The ultimate goal is to catch a card counter in the act and expel them from the casino. This usually results in an immediate ban.
Counteracting card counting at blackjack
Counting cards is not a form of cheating. It is, after all, a technique. But casinos do have the right to protect themselves against people who count cards. But what do casinos do to prevent card counting? This article will tell you more.
Until 1961, casinos were completely unaware that there was such a thing as counting cards. However, that changed with the book “Beat the Dealer”, written by Edward Thorp.
In it he described in detail how he used this technique and won a lot of money. Since then the games have been adapted and rules have been introduced that make card counting more difficult. For example, in 1961 people simply played with 1 deck of cards. This is hardly ever the case nowadays. Casinos use five to eight decks of cards in most card games.
Further, many blackjack tables have a 6:5 payout on an instant blackjack, which gives the casino an additional house edge of 1.4%. And finally, the cards are simply shuffled more frequently to discourage card counters.
Card counters are never alone
Watch out for players who play with a large spread
Card counting is based on the idea that one is better able to predict when the higher cards will fall. People who count cards will also increase their bets when they expect higher cards.
If a player was betting €5 all along and suddenly starts betting €75, this is striking. The difference between the table limit and the maximum bet allowed is called the spread. The higher the spread, the more likely one is to be dealing with a card counter.
Casinos by now know the characteristics associated with a card count. When a player suddenly bets 15 times more than usual, this is one of the most recognizable characteristics.
Watch out for very high stakes
Players who count cards, of course, also lose. On average they have only a 1% advantage over the casino. Still, when tens of thousands of dollars are at stake, that’s a nice profit.
Players who count cards must therefore have a high bankroll. High bets don’t stand out on a table with high table limits. But on tables with low table limits they do. When that happens, the casino is extra alert and the floor manager will certainly keep an eye on the player.
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Making potential card counters uncomfortable
When casino employees have the idea that they are dealing with a card counter, the floor manager will certainly take action. One option is to try to make the player uncomfortable.
Visually watching the player can be a technique to get a card counter to back off. But simply coming to the table and chatting with the dealer is also a possibility.
A third technique is to openly instruct the dealer to shuffle the cards more often. This has two consequences. The first is that the card counter is alerted. The second is that the cards are shuffled more often and thus card counting becomes more difficult.
Using a special shuffling machine
Automatic card shufflers are available today that allow cards to be shuffled over and over again without any loss of time. Card counting is useless when such machines are used.
People who are into card counting will definitely skip tables where such machines can be found.
Joining the game halfway is not allowed
In America it is called Wonging, after the author who wrote an entire book on this technique. In Wonging, a player waits at the side of the table while observing the game. Of course, he also counts the cards in the process.
Counting all the cards is not easy
The moment the player thinks the advantageous cards are coming, he sits down and bets big. Wonging has an advantage over traditional card counting. One plays only at the most lucrative times. This saves the money that is used in the traditional way during play.
Nowadays, at almost every casino, one is not allowed to sit down at the table during a game round. One must wait until the dealer visibly shuffles the cards or opens up the table.
Spotting team players
Card counters do not always work alone. Sometimes they consist of teams with each team member having a distinct role. One player takes a seat at the blackjack table and plays with low stakes. He obviously counts the cards.
The moment he expects the higher cards, he signals another team member. He then sits down and immediately bets high. The casino will think it’s dealing with a high roller.
Sometimes such teams consist of as many as five to ten people. They sit at several tables and thus have all kinds of opportunities to take advantage of the odds. Since intermediate table seating is banned in many casinos, the use of teams is rare nowadays.
Keeping a database of professional players
Over the years, especially in America, casinos have created complete databases of professional players. Whenever a professional player visits the casino, which in itself is not forbidden, all kinds of alarm bells will ring.
The player will undoubtedly be monitored and if he has been banned before, of course, he will be shown the door again immediately.
Look out for less advantageous choices
Card counters sometimes make strange choices when playing. They do this especially at times when they expect the higher cards to come. They might pass on 15 or 16 or take an extra card on 19 or even 20. These are strange decisions and can give away the fact that the casino is dealing with a card counter.
Usually the dealer will signal the floor manager when a player makes such choices. Most players are smart enough to know that asking for a card with 19 is not smart. If the card counter is handy, he may get away with it. The dealer might think he is just dealing with a very bad player. But in most cases, he pricks through such choices anyway.
To avoid being exposed as a card counter, it is important to know these methods. In addition, you will have to make sure that what you do, you do very well. Practice makes perfect!
Keep in mind that some dealers are sharper than others. Feel free to switch tables if you think the dealer will notice you. In any case, choose a table with a 3:2 payout on an instant blackjack.
But perhaps before you can apply all this knowledge, you should start by learning how to count cards. There are several ways to do this and is not only lucrative but often hearty fun.