Card counting in blackjack is very important if you want to consistently beat the live games at your favorite casino. Over the years blackjack professionals like Don Schlesinger and Stanford Wong have studied ways to improve card counting. One of these advanced strategies is known as back counting.
Back counting in card counting is the act of observing a table and maintaining a count until the deck gets hot. Once the count is high, the back counter takes a seat at the game and begins to make large bets. This is a risky strategy, but it was used to great success by professional teams of blackjack card counters.
Don Schlesinger and Back Counting
One of the most important personalities of the blackjack world is Don Schlesinger. He is a respected player, card counter, author, and mathematician. Schlesinger is also a member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame. There are few people that have amassed more knowledge about the game of blackjack than Don Schlesinger.
One of the things that Don has specialized in is adjustments to basic blackjack strategy and card counting. His Illustrious 18 and Fab Four card counting indices are subjects we have written about extensively on Counting Edge. Back Counting is the most important adjustment that Schlesinger has proposed for card counters. He contends that there is a proper way to do it which reduces the risk of being spotted by casino personnel.
The written works of Don Schlesinger that deal with back counting are geared toward helping teams of card counters accomplish the practice without being caught. He claims to have worked out his practices through many years of trial and error.
Stanford Wong and Wonging
Another name for back counting is wonging. This name is taken from the blackjack author and professional, Stanford Wong. He advocates a similar way of back counting as Schlesinger, but does not necessarily devote as much time to avoiding scrutiny.
Wonging was perhaps more useful back in the days when it was easier for an individual to back count without detection. With advances today in facial recognition and other security measures, it has become almost impossible for wonging to succeed.
How Back Counting is Used
Back counting in card counting is used to maximize the advantage of the card counter. Instead of sitting down at a random blackjack table when walking into a live casino, the player looks for an optimal entry. The player will watch for a table that is about to begin dealing from a new shoe. Back counting depends upon being able to watch the table and determine when the count is high.
Back counting can be used by individuals, and it can also be used by teams of players. It is often more successful when used by a team because the individual that is back counting can signal another player when it is time to enter. This type of system was depicted in the movie 21 based on the MIT blackjack team.
The individual has no one to signal, and he or she will simply enter the table when the count has gone very high. This means that the individual is more exposed because they have to stand close enough to keep the count until they find an opportunity to get in the game. A back counter on a team can actually sit at the table and play the minimum wager until signaling the big player to enter the game.
The Risks Associated with Back Counting
Don Schlesinger was keenly aware that there were risks associated with back counting. The biggest of these was that a player could be caught and banned by the casino. Once banned, the player’s name and likeness could also be shared with other casinos. Being branded as a card counter or advantage player has ended the career of many professional blackjack players.
Can someone be actually prosecuted for back counting or regular card counting? In most cases the courts have said no. Every so often the casinos will make another challenge in court when a player is caught. In the end, getting banned by a casino is considered a worse punishment by the card counter. In fact, this is the primary weapon used by casinos to prevent card counting.
How Casinos Combat Back Counting in Card Counting
Thank goodness we no longer live in the old days when back counting in card counting could get you a trip to the hospital or the morgue. Live casinos don’t rely on violence much anymore to get rid of problem players. They just exercise their right as a private establishment to ban players who may be suspected of card counting.
The truth is that casinos also have other methods which don’t involve a ban. Sometimes the casino will use what is called a back-off to deter counting. In a back-off a pit boss or other casino boss will approach the player and ask to speak with them privately. Once in private, the boss will state that the casino believes the player is counting. The player is asked to stop or risk other measures. These other measures can include forcing the player to flat bet each hand.
Another way that casinos have chosen to prevent players from back counting is to disallow entry into a game mid-shoe. This means that a new player may only enter the game at the beginning or end of a shoe. This is most often seen in games that use fewer decks. Most double-deck blackjack games will not permit anyone to join the game mid-shoe.
Finally, a casino can also shuffle the cards at any time. Today it is becoming even more common for casinos to use shuffling machines. This makes it possible to shuffle the cards after each hand is dealt, just as they are online.
If you are thinking about giving back counting as taught by Don Schlesinger a try, be sure to study his written works long and hard. Getting caught and labeled as a card counter is no fun. A better solution is to play online blackjack with one of our recommended online casinos. You don’t need to be able to back count cards when you play blackjack online. Good options can be Lucky Red Casino or Casino Max, or Las Vegas USA.
Check out the following from Don Schlesinger: