Card Counting Myths Debunked


Oct 2011

Ken Tucker | POSTED IN Blackjack | 3 COMMENTS

Card counting is a legitimate strategy for beating the casino, one that is not illegal by any law in the United States, and a strategy that is even recognized as legitimate in some gambling jurisdictions. Card counters are not all high rolling mathematicians, raking in millions of dollars and cheating the casinos. There are so many myths about card counters and card counting in general, that it is difficult to see the truth about this gambling strategy.

Myth #1-Card counters never lose.

This myth is based on the idea that people who count cards beat the dealer and the casino every time they play. This is maybe the silliest and most damaging myth about counting cards–casinos are afraid of card counters because they think their profit is going to walk out the door every time a counter walks in. Real card counting only slightly increases the counter’s odds against the house. We’re talking about tenths of a percent difference in odds, which only make a big difference if you’re betting huge amounts.

Card counters only have a positive edge against the house in certain gaming situations–people who study card counting say that counters only “go up” against the house about 1 in every 6 rounds. The other 5 rounds, card counters have a slight disadvantage, just like people who play using basic blackjack strategy.

Myth #2-Counting cards only works for single deck games.

Since counting cards is really just keeping mental track of favorable and unfavorable cards, it makes no sense that card counters can’t keep track of more than one deck. In fact, card counters tend to stay away from single deck games, as dealers at these games are looking out for card counters and these tables have bet maximums that limit the profits counters could make to begin with.

Learning to count cards is just as easy for an eight deck game as it is for a single deck game; the numbers just get bigger. Instead of keeping track of sixteen 10 point value cards, counters in an eight deck game have to keep track of 128 cards. A little practice, and you could count a shoe made up of hundreds of decks.

Myth #3-It takes a lifetime to learn to count cards.

New methods for counting cards appear all the time, and modern counting methods tend to put an emphasis on ease of use. Older counting methods like the High-Low system can take a little time to learn and perfect, but new methods (such as Speed Count) can be learned in just a few hours of study.

While it is true that the more time you spend learning to count and the more complex method you use, the better your potential profits, learning a simple method like Speed Count can increase your edge against the casino in just a few hours of practice.

Myth #4-Casinos harass card counters.

In Las Vegas and a few other gambling jurisdictions, card counting is really frowned upon. But the truth is that most casinos don’t lose enough money to counters to really worry about them. Casinos are not legally allowed to harass customers for any reason, especially customers who haven’t committed a crime. Since card counting isn’t illegal, most card counters never experience any heat whatsoever.

Myth #5-You have to be rich to make money counting cards.

This myth is based on solid blackjack strategy–every player is going to experience his share of short-term losses. That’s why people assume that you need a massive bankroll to win lots of money counting cards. The truth is, card counters tailor their bet size to their bankroll so that they can weather the losing streaks and live to play another day.

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3 Responses to Card Counting Myths Debunked

  1. Wayne says:

    Card counting is now an outdated skill. Casinos now use multi decks and a plastic red card to separate out part of the deck after shuffling and before dealing. That means that many cards are excluded from play so you cannot any longer ascertain the ratio of high to low cards by the count.

    • Ken Tucker says:

      While you are correct that casinos use multiple decks and a cut card to make sure the cards are not dealt all the way through the shoe, it is completely wrong to say that this makes card counting ineffective or impossible.

      One particular skill associated with counting cards is being able to accurately mentally estimate the “penetration” which means how much of the 6 or 8 deck shoe has been dealt at any point in time. If you know this then you divide the running count by the number of remaining decks that are yet to have been dealt to get the “true count”. This means that the count is more accurate the further the dealer has gone into the shoe as the divisor will be lower. Penetration can vary by casino or dealer depending on where they have been trained to put the cut card in the shoe.

  2. brian says:

    Count all you want if I own casino it might built your confidence / but in the end the chips will be in my cage/ good luck!

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