Card Counting

Blackjack School

The game of blackjack is distinguished from most other casino games as it is a beatable game. An average player investing some time to master some card counting technique can remove the small house edge the casino has in blackjack.

Card counting allows the player to track the ratio between the high-value cards and low-value cards that remain in the deck. The reason for doing this is that high-value cards benefit the player while low-value cards benefit the dealer.

Being able to count cards during a game of blackjack can provide you with more accurate information on which cards are still in the deck so you can work the probabilities of being dealt a card that is useful to your hand.

History of Card Counting

Back in 1962 a mathematics professor by the name of Edward O. Thorpe has revolutionized the approach to blackjack when he published his book “Beat the Dealer”. Thorpe used a super-computer at MIT to run trials to simulate blackjack playing when applying a card counting system.

His book was the first time someone was able to prove mathematically that a player can overcome the small house edge that the casino has in blackjack using card counting.

Card Counting in Land Casinos

A player does not need to be a math genius to be able to count cards. This is why scores of people have tried to apply card counting to their blackjack playing.

Card counting is not an illegal activity but casinos do not look at it kindly and reserves the right to refuse to let card counters play. The reason for this is that when card counting is applied the casino loses its edge and the game favors the player.

Casinos are also notorious for taking into a casino backroom players who are suspected of card counting to check their ID and inform them they are no longer welcome at the blackjack tables. Back in the old days backrooms were where the casino thugs would rough you up to teach you a lesson.

You do not have to go to the backroom. Tell the casino official that if you are suspected of a crime they should call the police and if they wish you off the premises they can ask you to leave. They have no right under the law to detain you without involving police officials.

Card Counting in Online Casinos

Blackjack games in online casinos are software-based. The software uses a random numbers generator to regulate the game and cards are reshuffled after every hand dealt, this way no cards are ever removed from the deck. When you play 6 deck blackjack you will be playing with the full 6 decks at every round. Unlike in land-based casinos where cards from the previous round are removed from play and the game continues only with the cards that are left in the shoe.

Famous Card Counters

The most famous card counter is actually not a single person but rather a team of card counters. From the 1970’s there have been many teams of successful card counters who managed to earn millions using a team of card counters called “spotters” who would spread around the casino’s blackjack table and play for small wagers while counting cards.

When the counts were positive (i.e. there are more high cards than low cards still in play) they would use a discreet signal to inform the “big player” that it is time to join the game. The “big player” would then join the table and start placing maximum bets. The second the “spotter” notices the count is no longer positive they signal the “big player” to leave the table.

Famous card counting teams includes Al Francesco’s team, Ken Uston’s team, the MIT team and Tommy Hyland’s team. Some of these have been immortalized in films such as 21 and The Last Casino.

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