On Card Counting and Blackjack

While basic strategy offers players a wonderful, easy and legal way to lower the house edge it only takes you so far. As far as 0.5% still being in the house’s favor. And while that house edge is not as great at the 8% to 12% that players are up against at a slots machine, the casino is accepting for two reasons:

1. Not every single blackjack player will play according to basic strategy, nor will they play every hand according to it, deviating and thus keeping the house edge above 0.5%.

2. And the house still has the edge. As long as they have some kind of an edge they are a happy casino.

But then along comes those wily card counting blackjack players.

Casinos very much do not like card counting blackjack players. This is more about money than anything. On the surface card counting evens out the house edge and can even, for the skilled card counter, tip the edge in favor of the player.

If these card counting blackjack players were playing for fun or for fake money the casino would not care at all if the house edge slipped in favor of the player. But when money is involved, well that is another story.

When the house edge is in favor of the house, they stand a greater chance of making money off of the players. But when the edge goes to the player, the casino winds up paying more money to the player—something that they do not want to do on a regular basis. A slots jackpot here, and an honest 3-2 payout on a high-end wager to a non-card counting player, sure they are okay with. But a player who is taking regular advantage, no.

That is why if you are going to be a regular card counting blackjack player there is another skill you need to acquire: appearing that you are not counting cards.

Pit bosses, when they suspect that a player is counting cards or that something funny is going on, will come over to the table and strike up conversation with players. And often players will talk with the other players at the table or even with the dealer.

It is the player who with the bets going form $5 up to $50 suddenly that is not talking that will catch their attention. So the other skill you need to teach yourself to go hand-in-hand with card counting is the ability to keep an eye on the cards, keep your count and still interact with the other players, the dealer and even the pit boss if he stops by.

The point here is to be social and to appear that you are not counting cards when you really are. If you can interact with the others while playing blackjack the casino staff will not think that your mind is focused on counting. But then they assume that card counting blackjack players are not smart enough to do two things at once.