Written by Barbara Wintergreen in Lifestyle? 975
Wednesday 21 April 2021, 10.07pm
Movies make us believe that card counting is illegal and if you are caught counting cards you will be thrown out of the casino and perhaps beaten up. In reality, this is not the case. While casinos don’t like card counters because they beat the system, all they can do is set bet limits or ban players from blackjack or the casino itself.
In this article, we are going to clear the misconceptions about card counting and talk about how it works. Kate Richards, an iGaming expert from the UK helped us understand the world of card counting. You can find out more about Kate’s work click here.
Card counting without any outside aid is not illegal. In the USA, casinos reserve the right to remove people from the casino if they suspect him/her of counting cards. For example, Ben Affleck who is a successful blackjack card counter is banned from the Hard Rock casino for having been caught counting cards. The casino might set betting limits to certain players as well to discourage them from card counting.
Under British law card counting is not illegal either but similarly to the US, the casino can ban you if they suspect you of card counting. Using card counting devices or getting help from outside is illegal though.
Most online casinos that accept players from the UK offer blackjack. When you play online blackjack you play alone against the computer. At the start of each round, the deck is shuffled so it is not possible to count cards. This way the casino keeps its advantage, and while you can play perfect strategy, in the long run, the casino will win.
When you play live dealer blackjack in an online casino or play blackjack in a brick and mortar casino you will be able to count cards if you have learnt the technique.
The basic idea of card counting in blackjack is that high cards benefit the player and low cards benefit the dealer. When cards are dealt the card counter will give a positive, a negative or a zero value to each card and the count is adjusted accordingly. The running count will then give an idea if there is a higher concentration of high or low cards in the deck and therefore if it is likely to win or lose in the next round. There is a myth that card counters have to have excellent memory because they have to memorize which cards have been dealt. This is not true because all you have to do (if you are using, for example, the hi-low system) is add or subtract one from the running number.
Back counting means standing behind other blackjack players and counting their card without participating in the game. Once the card counter determines that it is worth joining the game he/she will sit down to play. Many casinos won’t allow players to join the game mid-shoe so this technique can’t always be used.
If you have seen Movie 21, you know what this is all about. This requires a group of people, also called “spotters” who play at different blackjack tables. They play at the minimum bet level and when the shoe is “hot” – the count is very high – they signal the main player to join the game and bet big.
Unlike in Las Vegas, in Atlantic city casinos are card counting illegal forbidden from barring card counters. Casinos that cannot or would rather not ban card counters can apply countermeasures to discourage the behaviour. They might not allow entry to the game until the deck is shuffled, when players increase the wagers or change rules for splitting and doubling down. Some casinos will use shuffling machines that randomly shuffle used cards back into the deck, making card counting an impossible practice.
If you ever wondered why counting cards is illegal, now you know that it is not. Casinos don’t like the practice though and they will try to spot card counters or apply countermeasures, depending on local law.