Card Counting Days Numbered—Update

Just a quick update, blackjack fans. Details have been released about Kris Zutis’s card counting detection software.

You all remember Kris Zutis, right? He’s the 22 year old from Dundee in Scotland who has created a computer program that will detect card counting in blackjack—this is after he decided not to write a program that would undermine poker strategy, his game of choice.

Details have been released on the basics of how the software works. Zutis’s program uses various visual recognition techniques that collect information. Some of this information that is collected is contour analysis which detects what cards have been flipped. Stereo imaging is also used to measure the height of chips tacks to determine how much a player has bet.

After this and other data is collected, the program will analyze what cards have been played and a player’s betting strategy. The casino is then alerted if the program thinks that the analysis on the player’s actions is suspicious. At that point they can take action against a blackjack player.

Already casinos are interested in Zutis’s program, and it’s no wonder. If having an edge over a player isn’t enough, the casinos want to take away our strategy now too.

Zutis has been invited to present his paper on his program, entitled ‘Who’s Counting?: Real-Time Blackjack Monitoring for Card Counting Detection’ at the International Conference on Computer Vision Systems (ICVS) in Belgium. He’s hoping to generate more interest in his program so that it can be further developed and made ready for sale.

Are Card Counting Days Numbered?

Casinos the world over must thinking that their day is coming and are getting ready to celebrate. To my blackjack friends, I am sorry to say that a computer program is in the works that will be able to detect card counting.

Or so its programmer says. Kris Zutis, a final year student at Dundee, is claiming that he has developed a program that will be able to track a game as it progresses by monitoring the cards played and by tracking how a player bets. It is explained that a camera will watch a game of blackjack, collecting information about the game. It then somehow uses a complex system of algorithms to analyze how the game is being played. It will compare betting done by players to what cards have been played.

In other words, this card counting detection system is going to count cards to see if how a player is betting is reflected in how this detection system has counted the deck. I have to admit that this Zutis kid is pretty smart to think of this—what better way to detect card counting players than to have the casino count cards and compare it to how blackjack players are betting. Actually I’m surprised the casinos haven’t figured that idea out already. But this kid takes it the idea further by creating a program to compute that comparison. Nice way to make money, Zutis.

So not only will we blackjack players have to find a new system, but now we’ll have to be mindful of how we’re betting. Seems we won’t be able to bet how we wish anymore without upsetting these poor casinos. Seems Big Brother has finally tapped into the world of gambling—let’s tell them how they can and can’t gamble.

Zutis says his program isn’t ready to go on the market quite yet; he has to develop it further. Calling all investors—help develop a program that will do the counting that we will be forbidden to do. A bit hypocritical, no?

Zutis is a self-proclaimed poker enthusiast. Originally he said he wanted his project to be related to poker. He wanted to sully his own game. But after learning the system was better suited to crackdown on blackjack he went that route. More like he realized, ‘Oops, I don’t want to somehow limit the game that I play.’ And while he will most likely be rather disliked if his card counting program for detecting card counting is sold to casinos, I can’t imagine anyone liking a guy who sells out to the casinos’ side.

You and Blackjack Software—Be Wary, Be Very Wary

How many times when cruising the internet, have you seen advertisements and entries on websites boasting the superb advantages of blackjack software? Too many times to count.

I recently visited a site for blackjack software that makes such claims. And I was blown away with the used car salesman pitch. And I sincerely hope that none actually purchases such software in the belief that they will bet the casino or get rich quick.

It’s one thing to advertise practice or training software, but another to try to rip off players who are trying to learn to play and those who are trying to get better at it. So what do you keep in mind when you are looking at blackjack software?

What type of software is it? While I still maintain you and practice are your best trainers for blackjack, we are in the computer age and some players—new and old—will be tempted by blackjack software. But before making any purchases check what it’s labeled for and compare it to what it actually does. Is it really training software or is it a great rich quick scheme? Read through all the information provided about the software you are considering.

Avoid the get rich quick advertising. General rule of thumb here is that if it sounds too good to be true, it is. If you read the disclaimer (and for the site-that-shall-not-be-named, I did read the entire disclaimer) you will see that they make no actual guarantee that you will not only make what their advertisement says, but they don’t guarantee that you will make anything. In other words, they aren’t guaranteeing that you haven’t thrown your money away if you purchase their software.

Beware the ‘Beat the House Every Time’ advertising. You cannot beat the house every single time. Do not for a second think you can. The site-that-shall-not-be-named above actually makes the claim that their software is undetectable in online casinos, but it tells you when to ‘change tables’ so that you don’t get detected. Sound a bit fishy? Don’t worry, it’s thoroughly fishy. You don’t want to get involved with software that can get you into trouble, whether it’s trouble that will simple get you booted from the online casino or trouble that will get you into a legal tangle.

Roll your eyes at claims that software can count cards. This one thoroughly makes me angry. This one is a downright lie. You cannot count cards online. I don’t care if the casino tells you how many decks their blackjack games use. Many players make the mistake of thinking that if they know how many decks are being used that they can count cards. But what is forgotten here is the Random Number Generator. The RNG is what makes card counting in online blackjack impossible as there is no way to predict what cards haven’t been dealt. The RNG in online blackjack can be likened to this: imagine at the end of a round all the played cards are gathered up and shuffled back into the deck. This is exactly what the RNG does, and it doesn’t matter how many decks are being used since the RNG “shuffles” all the cards before each round. So. Any software that claims that it will count cards for you is a definite rip off. You’re a smart player, and smart players know that you can’t count cards online.

Keeping all of that in mind, this is why I’m all for using practice as my trainer, pulling a basic strategy chart up in another window when playing online blackjack. But if you really want to use software be careful of what’s out there—you don’t want to get ripped off and lose money you never had to.

What is Real and Imaginary in Blackjack? Part II

Welcome back for Round 2. I hope you’ve given my last post’s “rules” some thoughts and started incorporating that information into your playing Blackjack strategies. And if not that, then at least tucked it back in your mind for later use. You never know when you’ll be at a table or online and something in the back of your mind will help you beat the dealer. I’m still looking for ways to expand my blackjack knowledge—you can never have too much knowledge, especially in a game where you can change the odds, bring the house’s edge down. It’s a mental game, use your knowledge. That being said, let’s move on.

  • The only way to be a good card counter is to be a genius.

– Nope. Nowhere near true. You do not need to be a genius to count cards in blackjack. That’s what the casinos want you to believe though. Yes, I know I made that sound something like a conspiracy. What it comes down to is the casinos know that any blackjack player who counts cards will have a better chance at winning. And casinos lose money when players win. So they would have you believe that you must posses Einstein-ian intellect in order to count cards. All you really need, at least to start out, is a basic system, such as a Hi-Lo counting system, and the patience to learn it and practice it.

  • Checking your basic strategy card is legal when playing blackjack.

– Now this is true. And not only is it true, but I recommend it. If you are new to blackjack then I highly highly advise it. A casino will not stop you from playing if you choose to have a basic strategy chart with you. It takes awhile have memorized with confidence the entire chart. Do yourself a favor and take a chart with you. If you want to try to play without it, keep it handy in a pocket or a handbag.

  • Losing five hands mine you will win the sixth.

– I’m laughing. Yes, I am. This is most defiantly not true. There is nothing in the blackjack universe that dictates that if you lose five hands, or any number of hands for that matter, you will win the next. Never has a mathematical study shown any such evidence. But I do wonder, why six hands? I’ve heard of lucky seven, and that for some thirteen is lucky rather than unlucky. But six? Never heard of six being associated with luck.

Keep an eye out for: What is Real and Imaginary in Blackjack? Part III