HOW CARD COUNTING WORKS IN BLACKJACK

It was obnoxious, harassing and unwarranted. On Monday I come to work as a dealer in the Bellagio and I hear people praying. You are only supposed to keep your own detailed records with things like date, location, table if possible, game, who you were with, etc. I am by no means a gambler, and have only been through casinos a few times. Think I found another bug…was dealt 2s2d and checked.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Archived from the original on August 11, Retrieved June 19, Archived from the original on February 25, Retrieved May 23, Archived from the original on August 6, Retrieved May 22, Archived from the original on May 26, Archived from the original on February 2, Retrieved January 29, Archived from the original on July 25, Retrieved July 4, Archived from the original on August 10, Archived from the original on March 5, Archived from the original on March 4, Archived from the original on March 6, Retrieved February 24, A loser looking for new deal".

Archived from the original on February 24, Retrieved February 23, Archived from the original on August 9, Retrieved July 14, Two Plus Two Publishing. Archived from the original on February 1, Archived from the original on September 21, Archived from the original on September 14, Disguising your playing skills is imperative if you are card counting in a land-based casino.

If you are playing an online casino where the cards are shuffled after every hand, card counting is useless see Chapter Casinos do not like to lose money; they prefer to cater to players who know how to lose, rather than to the very small minority that know how to win.

They know that card counters have the edge over them, and as I discussed in section Over the years, casino bosses have developed a stereotype of a card counter. What follows is their perception of the characteristics of a card counter vs. Therefore, your first goal, if you want longevity as a card counter, is to try to emulate the above characteristics of a gambler when you are playing.

By doing so, you will give the perception that you are an unskilled player, and your play will not draw attention to the ever-present pit bosses. What follows is a smorgasbord of tips on how to stay under the casino radar. Unfortunately, as a skilled card counter, you need to check your ego at the door when you enter a casino and take on the role of a typical unskilled recreational gambler when in reality, you are an advantage player with an edge over the casino.

There are two types of camouflage techniques; some are punitive meaning there is a cost attached to them , while others are not punitive. This involves putting on an act that gives the casino bosses the perception that you are a typical recreational gambler. These ploys cost you nothing or in some cases, very little and can give you longevity as a card counter when you use them.

Likewise, if you push a hand and the count goes up, leave the same bet up. Here again, gamblers rarely increase their bets after pushes. The last two ploys are very slightly punitive but are worth making several times during a session at little cost.

Keep in mind that the likelihood that your play will be watched by casino personnel depends on the size of your bets. The larger your bet size, the more diligent you need to be to disguise your skills. This type of camouflage involves making a bad play i. Mathematicians have done extensive calculations to determine the cost of deviating from the basic playing strategy.

Some of the cover plays that cost less, and, therefore, the ones you should consider using if you decide to use cover plays are:. The key is to minimize this risk by using an act when you play. Just pick up your chips and quietly leave the casino. Then when you get back home, think about how you played and what adjustments you need to make to your camouflage techniques the next time you play. Think of the experience as just another lesson learned and move on.

In order to have a long life expectancy as a card counter, you need to develop an act that disguises the fact that you are an advantage player. This chapter covers information that most players find boring. However, this information must be understood and practiced if you ever want to be a successful card counter.

There are two things you must have to beat the casinos: I always considered myself lucky because when I first started playing blackjack nearly 50 years ago, I understood the importance of not overbetting my bankroll. I began my card counting career with a 1 to 4 bet spread, playing a single-deck game in Las Vegas. The rest is history.

Not once did I ever go broke, because I never overbet. When I had success at the tables and my bankroll grew, I would increase my minimum and maximums bets and still maintain the to 1 ratio.

Likewise, when my bankroll took a big hit, I would drop down in my betting units. Slowly, but surely, my bankroll grew over the years and so did my betting stakes and profits. If you do, you will succeed as a card counter; if not, I guarantee at some point you will go broke.

My advice to students who attend my card counting classes is to set aside a sum of money your playing bankroll in a money market account. Call it your G G for gambling. The G should contain funds that you use solely for playing blackjack and nothing else.

Your edge at blackjack will manifest itself over the long run. This means in the span of a day, a week, or even several months of playing, you can experience losses. You have to have the bankroll to withstand those short-term losing sessions, and trust me, you will have them.

Nowadays there are blackjack software programs that you can use to determine how much bankroll you need to minimize the risk of going broke. There are two types of ROR. The session or trip ROR will tell you what the chance is of going broke for a specific session or trip. The lifetime ROR is the chance of losing your entire blackjack bankroll, no matter how long that may take.

Nowadays there are computer software programs that allow you to calculate the following: There are several relatively inexpensive blackjack software programs that you can use to determine your bankroll requirements and ROR. I used the latter for the following examples although all three can do the calculations.

You want to know what is your chance of going broke before making as much money as you can i. No sweat — you can get the data from, say, the BJRM software. Just input the information about this game including the rules, penetration and bet spread, click the calculate button, and instantly the software displays this result:. There are alternate ways to obtain the above information.

You could also use a blackjack simulation software program e. Here are the calculated lifetime bankrolls and the corresponding RORs. You have three choices:. A very smart choice that I always recommend to my students. While you are waiting to save money to fund your G, keep practicing your card counting and basic strategy at home. So with a few key strokes and a software program that you can use at home you were able to determine the following in short order. This chapter is packed with useful information on ROR for blackjack players.

A model for how to grow your bankroll with minimum risk was developed by J. He proposed that on every hand you should bet an amount that is in direct proportion to your bankroll and edge, and in inverse proportion to your variance. The problem with optimal Kelly Betting is that you must accurately calculate how much to bet on every hand by multiplying your current edge on the hand times your current bankroll.

More accurately, you would divide your edge by the variance, which is the square of the standard deviation, and then multiply this result by your bankroll to determine the portion of your bankroll you should bet. Moreover, exact Kelley betting can be very volatile and increases your risk that you could be spotted as a card counter by casino personnel. To minimize the latter and still use the concept of Kelly Betting, players nowadays use what is known as Half-Kelly Betting, meaning you would never bet more than half of your optimal bet on any hand.

My advice is to use the proportional betting ramp for whatever card counting system you plan to use. They work and, in my opinion, are less taxing to use in a casino than Kelly Betting.

Winning at blackjack is a journey. Along the way, you need to play beatable games with an accurate counting system and enough bankroll to withstand the short-term losses.

Prepare yourself for losing trips because you will experience them, and be sure that whatever your betting level, you are able to financially and emotionally make those big bets when you have the edge. Written by Henry Tamburin Ph. Top Menu - Blackjack. Play Now - Online Casino. Top Menu- More Games- Craps. They have the wrong idea about what card counting is and how it works. Misinformation about card counting abounds in books, magazines, on the Internet, and even in TV and movies.

These myths have been passed along from one generation to the next and they hinder players from learning how to win at blackjack. Finally, one employee says: My goal in this chapter is to cover these points: Dispel the card counting myths Explain what card counting really is, how it works, and why it works Give you the details of a popular card counting system Show you alternative, simpler card counting systems Explain bankroll requirements and the all-important concept of risk of ruin.

Using your brain when you play blackjack is not illegal; neither is card counting. Removal of the large cards 10, J, Q. For example, one system known as Hi-Lo assigns: If your running count is positive, then the undealt cards are richer in large cards, and the card counter has the edge.

If the running count is negative, the undealt cards are richer in small cards, and the card counter does not have the edge. If the running count is 0, there are an equal number of small and large cards in the unplayed cards and the deck is considered neutral as it is at the top of a deck after a shuffle.

Card counters then use their count to vary their bets on the next hand as follows: Card counters gain the upper hand over the casinos because: They will bet more money on positive counts when they have the edge , and They will bet less money bet on negative counts when the casino has the edge.

Counters actually lose more hands than they win but they win more money than they lose, in aggregate. How do they accomplish this? They have a lot more bet on the hands that they win compared to the amount of money bet on the hands that they lose.

For example, a Level 1 counting system such as Hi-Lo uses: Note the tags assigned to each card, which ones are level 1, 2, or 3, and the following information for each system: Betting correlation BC , used to predict how well the system predicts good betting situations.

Playing efficiency PE , used to predict how efficiently the system alerts a player to deviate from the basic playing strategy.

Insurance correlation IC , used to predict how well a counting system predicts when the Insurance bet should be placed. Card counters mentally add the tags of the small and large cards that they see to arrive at an end-of-round running count.

The counter carries over the running count from one round to the next. Whenever the running count is a positive number, this is an indicator for the counter that he has the edge on the next round and should bet more.

Whenever the running count is negative, this is an unfavorable situation for the counter and he bets small. Level 2 and higher levels counting systems aim to more accurately reflect the effect certain cards have with their removal. Level 2 and higher counting systems are slightly more powerful than Level 1but more difficult to master and use. The most popular Level 1 counting system is known as Hi-Lo. In this sub-chapter, you will learn: Here is the how you should have kept the running count.

The 7, 8, and 9 is assigned a tag of 0. When you count down a deck of cards using Hi-Lo your final count should be 0. Practice card counting with a deck of cards; cancelling the low and high cards.

The Interactive Card Counting Trainer is a good tool to help you practice card counting. Simulate a noisy environment by turning on a TV or radio while you practice your card counting. You must continue practicing card counting at home until you can consistently count down a deck of cards accurately in less than 30 seconds. The issue with most single-deck games that makes them unbeatable for card counters is twofold: Many single-deck games pay only for a blackjack.

You often get at most two or three rounds before the dealer reshuffles the cards. If there are five players, the dealer will only deal only one round and then reshuffle the cards. You are all set to push out a max bet because you have a big edge when the dealer abruptly starts reshuffling the cards. Playing in games that have good rules, including a payoff for a blackjack. Using the basic playing strategy for playing ever hand dealt to you. Varying your bets based on the running count.

Many single-deck games are unplayable even with card counting when a blackjack only plays instead of , and when not very many rounds are dealt between shuffles i.

A 1—4 bet spread for single-deck games is sufficient to gain the advantage. With double-deck games, the bet spread should be increased to 1—6. Be cautious with making large jumps in your bet spreads from one round to the next. Before I go into the details of how much to bet in a six- and eight-deck game, let me ask you this question: The equation to normalize the running count to a true count is: You are probably wondering how you will be able to determine the number of unplayed decks of cards.

Fortunately, the casinos have provided us with a device to do this. The dealing shoe is to her left; the discard tray to her right. The discard tray is where the dealer places the discards from each round in a neat stack that can be seen by everyone.

By glancing at the stack of cards in the discard tray you can estimate the number of unplayed decks of cards by a simple subtraction. Drill 2 I will share with you another very good drill that blackjack pro Kevin Blackwood described in his book, Play Blackjack Like the Pros.

Using a permanent marker, number the face of each card sequentially from 1 to After you number them, keep then in order. Place all five decks in a discard tray, face down, with the highest number on top. Now guess roughly how many decks of cards remain in the discard tray. Turn over the top card in the stack and see how close you came to your estimate divide the number on the face of the card by 52, to determine number of decks remaining in the tray.

Drill 3 Assume a six-deck game. Maintain an accurate running count. Look at the discard tray and estimate the number of decks that have been dealt. Determine the number of undealt decks by subtracting the result in 2, above, from the number of decks being used in the game.

Divide the running count by the result from 3 to estimate the true count. The way I remember how much I need to bet on every hand is as follows: True count is determined by dividing the running count by the number of unplayed decks.

The number of unplayed decks is determined by estimating the number of decks of cards in the discard tray, and then subtracting that number from the number of decks being used in the game. The more positive the true count, the greater your advantage and the more you should bet. For multi-deck games, a 1—12 bet spread is necessary to gain a respectable edge over the casino.

Drill 2 The following table lists 15 plays and the corresponding true count multi-deck game with s YOUR EDGE By following the above betting and playing strategies for single-, double-, and multi-decks games, your edge as a card counter will be about 0. The Illustrious 18 and Fab 4 contain index numbers, which is the value of the true count where you would change your playing strategy.

Using the Hi-Lo card counting system will give the player about a 0. In an unbalanced card counting system, the tags do not net to 0 resulting in this important point: An unbalanced card counting system eliminates the need to convert the running count to a true count. Before I explain how this can be, let me first delve into some history. The data in the table also includes: Playing efficiency PE , used to predict how efficient the system alerts a player to deviate from the basic playing strategy.

Insurance correlation IE , used to predict how well a counting system predicts when the Insurance bet should be placed. You can obtain more information on the K-O Count, Red Seven Count, and Kiss Count, including preferred betting and playing strategies, from these books: The sum of the tags in a deck of cards for unbalanced counting systems is greater than 0.

Betting and playing strategies for unbalanced card counting systems are based solely on the running count. The pivot point is the value of the running count that is equal to the true count so you know exactly what your advantage is. A small amount of error creeps into unbalanced counting systems when the running count drifts away from the pivot. Overall unbalanced counting systems are quite accurate and effective at giving the player the edge when they play blackjack.

Speed Count is simple to use because: With the K-O Rookie, you use the basic playing strategy to play every hand and you make only two bets: The system recommends you use a 1—6 bet spread as follows: You start your count at 0, at the shuffle, and you: You would play perfect basic strategy and vary you bets as follows: Bet 3 units with a positive count Bet 2 units with 0 count Bet 1 unit with negative count. Entry-level systems will convert a gambler into an AP. Entry-level systems can also be the first step to learning card counting.

The reasons that penetration is so important are as follows: The greater the penetration, the more accurate information the counter has about the composition of the undealt cards.

The deeper the dealer deals, the greater the range of the count will be, meaning the more opportunity a counter has to bet more when the count becomes skewed in his favor.

Typically, casinos will set the penetration at their blackjack games in one of two ways: The first is at the discretion of the dealer with some guidelines from the casino. The percent penetration occurs when the dealer places the cut card in the pack after the shuffling and player-cut is competed.

Usually, casinos give dealers instructions on where to place the cut card; however, sometimes dealers have some leeway as to where they place it. For example, in a six-deck game dealt from a dealing shoe , the dealer places the shuffled cards next to the shoe and then slides the cut card through the notch and into the stacked of cards, before placing them into the shoe. The notch on every shoe has been calibrated so that the penetration will be virtually the same on all tables.

In a double-deck game, after shuffling and allowing a player to cut the cards, the dealer places the shuffled cards into the discard tray. The dealer then slides the cut-card through the notch in the discard tray into the stack of shuffled cards before dealing the first hand.

This is not always a bad thing because in some casinos, the notch is calibrated at 1. However, you need to check and confirm this via. If you are not sure of the penetration, stand to the side of the table and count the number of cards that are dealt before the dealer shuffles. Anything less is not worth your time. The Rule of 6 is as follows: The advantages to spreading to three hands are: The dealer will be dealing more cards in that last round due to my spreading to three hands, resulting in a much deeper penetration for a double-deck game.

This is a very good situation for a card counter. Spreading to three hands also allows you to get three opportunities at getting those tens and aces when the unplayed cards are loaded with them and, sometimes, one or more blackjack hands with those big bets paying Some casinos will allow you to enter mid-game but restrict you to making the minimum bet until the shuffle.

Check out my tips on how to get away with siting out a few hands in sub-chapter You form a team with several other players that you know are good skilled card counters, are honest, and can be trusted the latter is very important.

When the count tanks, the spotter signals the BP to exit the game; then, he or she would wait for a signal from another spotter to enter another game. This method of play reaps enormous benefits: Take a bathroom break. I suggest you also take your chips with you. Time your break so you return right after the shuffle. Step aside from the table and pretend you are making a call on your cell phone and reenter the game when after the dealer completes the shuffle.

Before you use this ploy, check that there is cell phone service in the room. Just leave the table and play on another table. I usually do this if the count is very negative roughly three-quarters of the way into the first deck. Playing games with deep penetration. In a single-deck game, you want to have at least three rounds between shuffles. Only playing games that have a good mix of player-favorable rules. Playing with the smallest number of players.

Using an aggressive bet spread to take advantage of positive counts when they occur. Spreading to more than one spot. Back counting games then jumping in on positive counts.

Playing with a team of card counters. Using an exit strategy to avoid betting in negative counts. Using continuous shuffling machines CSM. Using multiple-decks of cards with shallow penetration Paying only for a blackjack on single-, double-, and multi-deck games Offering poor rules, such as h17, NDAS, and doubling only on hard 10 and 11 Prohibiting mid-shoe entry Probably the biggest deterrents for card counters are the payoffs on blackjack and the shallow penetration.

They watch how much a player bets after the shuffle vs. They watch if a player changes his bet after a push. Most gamblers leave the same bet out; card counters, on the other hand, often change their bets depending on what happened to the count after the previous round was completed.

They know that card counters will stand on 16 when they have a big bet on the felt and hit when they bet small. They watch how much the player has bet on the hand when he takes insurance. They know card counters take insurance only when they have a big bet on a hand, because the count was very positive. The floor supervisor will call surveillance and have them watch how the player plays his hands e.

Sometimes the casino has software that allows the surveillance technician to input the cards and bets made by the player, and the software will compute if the player is varying his bets and the play of the hands in accordance with the count. Some casinos use facial recognition software to determine if the player is a known card counter.

The casino will take a photo of the player and compare the facial features against a data base of known card counters and cheaters. Most casinos have an in-house data base of known card counters photos and other information that they have collected or obtained from other casinos, and they will compare this data with that of the suspected card counter.

Some casinos hire card counters to catch card counters although this practice is not as popular as it once was. Some casinos hire a third party consultant who can analyze and confirm that the player is a skillful card counter either with a live feed or with tape of the player playing. The floor supervisor will come to the table, and for no apparent reason, tell the dealer to immediately shuffle the cards.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

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