The technique of playing blackjack with card counting has been on everyone’s lips for many years. Scientific books, how-to guides, and even behavioral guidelines for card counters have been written. You will be surprised how many forums and specialized sites are devoted to this narrow topic, and even how many films have been made about card counting. This is due to the fact that blackjack is a very popular game, and there are always many who want not only to master all its tricks, but also to get rich on it. Nevertheless, there are many myths around the topic of card counting. Someone thinks that it is illegal, others – that it is impossible, or that it is only for the gifted. In this article, the Shangri La Online Casino Team provides answers to the most popular questions.
• Counting cards in blackjack is illegal
False. It is not illegal to use your intellectual abilities when playing blackjack, including any strategies and techniques. Therefore, if you use only your mind and internal resources to count, then you are acting absolutely within the framework of the law. But if the cards are counted using any devices, it is already illegal and casino employees can call the police.
• Casino applies forceful methods to card counters
False. All official gambling houses operate within the legal framework. Yes, employees do their best to figure out the card counters in blackjack, as they can really beat the casino. But when they are found, communication is conducted strictly within the framework of the law.
Although this myth has some foundation. In the twentieth century, there were cases when card counters won large sums, and casino employees abused their power to prevent losses. But this is far in the past. Now gambling establishments simply reserve the right to deny anyone a visit, even without giving reasons.
• Casinos blacklist card counters
Truth. Perhaps the most notorious case of a blackjack ban due to card counting involves Ben Affleck.
The famous Hollywood actor is a passionate and rather successful poker and blackjack player. In doing so, he did regularly use the card counting technique and won hundreds of thousands of dollars at various casinos. Although Ben applied exclusively his knowledge to the game, he was eventually blacklisted by several establishments in blackjack. At the same time, these casinos invited such a prominent and influential person to be a dear guest, offered him many VIP conditions and the opportunity to play any other games.
• Everyone can learn to count cards
Truth. Now that counting techniques are well known and described in detail, everyone can learn them. Nobody says it’s easy and mastered in 5 minutes, but it’s still possible. Moreover, in films such as 21 and Rain Man, situations are deliberately complicated and romanticized to achieve the desired artistic effect. For example, in the movie 21, a whole team created and refined their methodology from scratch, which is always more difficult than practicing something well known.
• Card counting does not work when playing with multiple decks
False. Card counting works with 6 or even 8 decks, but it is, of course, more difficult than playing with one deck. At the same time, in Rain Man they tried to present such a situation as impossible, which gave rise to the myth. The casino staff, watching the Dustin Hoffman autistic hero win large sums in 6-deck blackjack, say that there is no one in the world who can score under such conditions. But we know they are wrong.
• There are several techniques for counting in blackjack
Truth. There are several dozen methods for counting cards in blackjack. We have described the most popular ones in the article “How to count in blackjack“. However, the revolution in the field of the game back in 1962 was made by the book “Beat the Dealer” by Edward Thorp, the great professor of mathematics, who simply adored this game.
At the same time, the advanced gamblers who earn by playing in the casino argue that it is not enough to own the counting method. You also need to behave correctly at the table. And here comes a book not about card counting: “Blackjack Secrets” by Jay Moore. It is often referred to as “The Most Powerful Blackjack Guide”, although there is no methodology in the text. The author explains how to manage your bankroll, how to behave at the table, how to talk to a dealer, when and how much to tip, and so on.
• Card counting gives an advantage over the casino up to 10 %
False. Having learned to count cards very quickly, players get a very small advantage over the casino – from 0.5 % to 1.5 %. This is despite the fact that when playing with several decks, the advantage is usually on the side of the casino – up to 1.6 %. Without card counting, players win 44 % of the hands.
• Card counters do not win every hand
Truth. Even if the player’s technique gives the maximum advantage over the casino of 1.5 %, this means that he wins only slightly more often than he loses. Accordingly, to get a good win, you need to play for a long time – several hundred or even thousands of hands.
• The odds in blackjack change from hand to hand
Truth. The odds in each hand change depending on which cards have already been played.
• You need to have a large bankroll to be a card counter
False. Blackjack can be played with any amount on hand. It is important to distribute the pot over a large number of rounds, because, as we said above, almost half of the hands are losing in any case.
• Beginning counters burn out due to improper bankroll management
Truth. Beginners, having learned how to count cards, do not pay enough attention to the distribution of the bankroll and the size of the bets. To avoid falling victim to this problem, and not to leave the game due to lack of money, you can use mathematical equations to determine the pot amount and the specific bets size to reduce the risk of ruin.
• The counter must hide that the cards are counting
Truth. In order to prolong the session and the playing career in general, most counters hide and disguise the fact that they are counting cards. They “drain” some hands, make deliberately losing bets in order to knock the attention of the pit bosses. After all, if the casino realizes that the player is counting cards, then it will simply close access to its tables.
• Better to do card counting alone than as a team
False. Many professional blackjack players play in teams, and only a few prefer individual play. Team play reduces risks and increases session profitability.
• Penetration is one of the most important blackjack factors
Truth. Deck penetration is the percentage of cards that are dealt before the dealer shuffles. The deeper the penetration, the more profitable the game. In addition, professionals are looking for a good mix of rules that favor themselves. A well-studied combination of penetration and blackjack rules in a particular institution tells the counter in advance whether it is worth playing at all.
• The small cards from 2 to 6 emergence increases the winning chances
Truth. When the cards from 2 to 6come out, the player gets more chances to make good hands, including blackjack. Accordingly, a deck with predominantly high cards from 7 to Ace gives you a better winning chance. In such a situation, professional players raise the stakes.
• The bet size must be constant when counting cards
False. From the above, it can be seen that the probability of winning changes depending on which cards have already left the deck and which ones are left. Accordingly, the bet size is usually increased when a favorable situation arises, and reduced if a lot of high cards came out of the deck.
• Unbalanced scoring systems are easier to master than balanced ones
Truth. Balanced counting systems are more complicated, since you need to translate the current account into a general one, that is, in general, you need to count more in your head, which increases the complexity and error probability. At the moment, the K-O system is considered the easiest to understand, and it is unbalanced.
• Cards can be counted even when the deck is being shuffled by a continuous shuffle machine
False. With this shuffling method, all the cards that have been released are returned to the deck again, which makes the existing card counting systems meaningless in principle. However, they have already begun to talk about the possibility of developing advanced counting systems that will increase the player’s advantage when playing with a continuous shuffle machine.
And a little bonus: the story of blackjack winning that changed the world. If it were not for the blackjack card counting, there might not have been a world famous postal company – FedEx. As the company founder, Frederick Smith, said in an interview with Forbes magazine, the young company had only a few days left to work, since he did not have the money to develop the business. Smith took the risk of taking the last $ 5,000 and headed to Las Vegas to bet on blackjack. He learned to play well in Vietnam, where he fought as a simple soldier. Smith said that winning at blackjack is not that difficult if you know how to bet. The average gambler is more often than not cowardly and takes money from the table just at the moment when you need to double your bet. The FedEx founder did not chicken out – and brought back $ 27,000, which helped him create one of the best postal companies in the world.