Card counting is a controversial casino playing strategy that is used by some blackjack players to predict hand values and increase their chances of beating the house.
Although not strictly illegal, counting cards is frowned upon by casinos. This means that card counting in blackjack could get you kicked out of the game or even earn you a casino blacklisting.
Despite the risks involved with counting cards, some blackjack players continue to use the strategy.
With the rise of online gambling and a boom in the online casino industry, casinos have had to find new methods of catching and preventing blackjack card counters on the web.
In this NewCasinosUS casino guide, you can learn more about card counting in blackjack, including how blackjack players count cards and some of the card counting strategies that they use.
You can also read more about the legality of counting cards and take a look at some of the preventative measures that casinos have taken to clamp down on it.
What is card counting?
Card counting is a card-playing strategy that is used by some players to gauge the probability of the next hand’s advantage.
In blackjack, counting cards allows players to predict whether the following hand will go in the favor of either the player or the house. This is usually achieved by assigning high and low cards with a certain value and then keeping track of the remainder of each.
This strategy enables players to gain an advantage over any other players in the game and even gain an advantage over the house.
How do blackjack players count cards?
Despite what you may think, you don’t have to be a mathematician to count cards.
Players count cards by assigning each card with a point score based on its value. Card counting (sometimes referred to as card reading) works on the basic principle that low cards benefit the dealer (or the house) while high cards benefit the player.
Each card’s value is assigned as either negative, positive, or of zero value to the player. Every time a card is removed from the deck and revealed in a hand, the running total is updated accordingly.
Card counters attempt to gauge the probability of high or low cards appearing in a new hand based on the evidence presented in previous hands. By keeping a running total of their card points throughout each successive hand, players are able to gauge probability more effectively.
By successively keeping score of the fluctuating odds with each new hand, as well as keeping an eye on the remaining number of high and low cards in the deck, players may be able to make an educated guess as to the whereabouts of the most valuable cards, and they may even achieve a perfect Blackjack (21).
Card Counting Strategies
Recognized card counting strategies include Hi-Lo, Hi-Opt I, Hi-Opt II, Halves, Zen Count, Red 7, Omega II, and KO. The most common card counting strategy used by blackjack card counters is the Hi-Lo system.
According to the Hi-Lo system, a player would subtract 1 point from their total for a high card (10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace) and add 1 point in the case of a low card (2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
EOR (Effect of Removal)
In a card counting system, the values allocated to cards should line up with that specific card’s EOR. The EOR (or Effect of Removal) of a card is a calculation of how significant or insignificant its removal from the game would be in terms of potential hand value.
IC (Insurance Correlation)
When played at high stakes, insurance bets can be highly profitable for players and can go a long way in strengthening any blackjack card counting system.
BC (Betting Correlation)
The betting correlation of a card counting system is an indicator of how efficiently that system informs the player of potentially positive or negative hand outcomes.
Aces in blackjack card counting
Depending on your chosen card counting strategy, you may or may not decide to include the ace as a countable card. As the most valuable card in the pack, the ace can be counted to improve BC.
Card counting strategies which include the ace in the count are usually known as “ace reckoned strategies,” while those strategies which disregard its use in the count are referred to as “ace neutral.”
Is card counting legal in The United States and the United Kingdom?
Technically, card counting is legal in the United Kingdom. Casino players based in The United States are allowed to count cards so long as they do not use any type of device to do so.
US players are not permitted to count cards in collaboration with someone else. However, counting cards itself is not illegal under any state or federal law.
This means that as long as you are alone and you are not using any digital assistance to help, you can count cards.
In fact, it is actually illegal for casinos operating in Atlantic City to restrict access to players previously identified as card counters.
Prevention and detection of blackjack card counting
Despite the fact that it is not illegal, card counting can still get you into trouble at both land-based casinos and online casinos.
Anyone considering counting cards should first realize that card counting is not the best way to make friends at the casino and that there can be repercussions for players who are caught. These can include being blacklisted and banned from the casino.
While being banned may not seem like the end of the world, it may prove problematic for regular casino gamers. It is also the case that many players who are skilled or on a lucky streak are banned and incorrectly labeled as card counters.
Because casinos based in Atlantic City are incapable of banning or punishing identified card counters, they have had to adopt preventative measures in order to protect themselves from card counting.
Casino Card Counting Monitoring
Casino players are monitored by the house in order to identify suspicious betting patterns and pick out players who might be counting cards.
Some of the behavior and bet variations that casinos look for when attempting to pick out card counters include hopping from table to table, making excessively large buy-ins, playing lots of hands or not enough hands, and only placing bets towards the end of a shoe.
Casino Card Counting Countermeasures
Casinos have been battling card counters for years. Modern land-based casinos and online casinos have employed a wide range of countermeasures to tackle and prevent card counting.
These include banning and blacklisting, back rooming, enforced flat betting, retracting winnings earned by counting cards, post-shuffle game entry, preferential shuffles, and confiscation of chips or account balance.
Depending on the state they are based in, casinos may or may not face legal restrictions on the countermeasures they can reasonably take to prevent or discourage card counting. This means that card counting countermeasures can vary in severity from state to state.
For example, while the state of New Jersey may enforce strict limitations on card counting countermeasures, the state of Nevada is much more relaxed in terms of the actions that a casino can legally take.
Is Counting Cards Worth it?
Are you a blackjack player who is looking to take your game to a higher level? Do you think that counting cards could be for you?
Card counting is a legendary casino strategy that remains as controversial as ever with both players and casino providers alike.
Despite the fact that counting cards is not illegal, it is not welcomed at land-based casinos and online casino platforms. This means that you can run into trouble or face punishment should your card counting come to the attention of the house.
While this risk is a key feature of the card counting strategy, there is no question that the card counting systems employed by blackjack gamers are extremely effective.
Card counting is a relatively rare skill that any card player or casino player can benefit from learning.
When used correctly, card counting systems enable gamers to control the edge and turn the house on its head. For many casino gamers, this makes card counting well worth the risk.