For many years, card counting has been the surefire way to bank a consistent profit at the blackjack tables. Just like everything else in life, blackjack is subject to change. The casinos have invested time and money in developing better methods of deterring card counters. Online casinos make it nigh impossible to count. With all of these changes we have to ask, is card counting dead?
The short answer is no. There are still multiple advantages to being a skilled card counter. The way blackjack players use their card counting skill is evolving, though, and if you want to stay ahead of the game you have to be willing to think about card counting differently. Here are a few reasons why card counting is not dead.
Card Counting Still Works in Live Casinos
Electronic shuffling machines. Multiple decks. Changes to the games rules. All of these are measures taken by live casinos over the last thirty years to stop card counters, and some of them have been effective. Yet, despite the casinos best efforts, some serious counters still thrive. Why?
The reason is simple math. While the number of professional, skilled card counters has remained pretty much the same, the number of unskilled casino players has risen. With all of the fresh fish in the ocean, the casinos have stopped stressing over the whales. Oh, they still try to identify and ban card counters, but the truth is they don’t lose any sleep over it. The steady flow of people playing slot machines—including the electronic live dealer blackjack games—and other games offsets most of the losses a casino suffers at the hands of a card counter. So, if a card counter slips in and takes the casino for a nice sum once in a while, it is becoming more unlikely that they will be caught. The trick is not getting greedy. Staying under the radar has always been the survival tactic of a counter.
And, here’s something else. Contrary to what many believe, there are still casinos where it is possible to find blackjack tables that do not shuffle up electronically after each hand. Multiple decks are still used, but a little bit of searching will produce many double-deck games and even the rare single deck game. You just have to be willing to work a little harder to find these opportunities.
What About Online Blackjack?
We’re not going to mislead our readers: card counting in an online casino does not effectively swing the odds in a player’s favor. Why? Because each new hand is dealt by a computer program that randomly selects cards from a full deck. Each hand you play is dealt from a fresh deck. In order for card counting to give you an edge, you need something known as deck penetration. That means dealing deep into the deck. The deeper the deal goes, the more accurate your count becomes.
Notice that we did not say card counting online was worthless. On the contrary, you should be counting every hand you play online. Think about it. Where else can you practice your card counting skills for $1 per hand? Dealing card after card to yourself at home is boring and tiresome. When you play online you are being given an opportunity to sharpen skills that you can then use profitably in a live casino. You might even win some money!
Additionally, counting cards online encourages disciplined betting. Because you will be starting with a fresh count on each new hand the chances that you will bet irrationally decreases. Focusing on the count and basic strategy gives you a sort of narrowed vision that will keep you in check if you decide to start using poor money management. Don’t chase your losses. Just keep counting and making the right play while keeping your bets small until you amass a profit. Then you can play with the house’s money and increase your bets.
Card Counting is Alive and Well
At Counting Edge we say … Yes, blackjack players, card counting is alive and well. It is still the best thing going today, and you are not wasting your time learning new counting methods and strategies. Don’t view the changes to the game of blackjack as obstacles. View them as challenges that will help you become a better card counter. Embrace those changes. Find a way to beat them. In doing that, you’ll be joining the ranks of players like Ken Uston, Arnold Snyder, and others who devoted their time to finding new ways of exploiting the casinos’ flaws.
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