One of the most frequently asked questions by Counting Edge readers is, “How does the casino know that I am counting cards?” While there are many ways casinos can detect a card counter, a few methods are universal and can be found in many casinos.
Using former card counters for security
It is a known fact that many casinos employ former card counters on their security teams. This can be a devastating blow to counters because these individuals know exactly what to look for. They will be able to spot suspicious variations in your bets, count themselves by watching the security camera and seeing if you bet accordingly, or even sitting down at a table beside you in disguise to observe your play first hand.
The fix: If you are playing in a live casino you will likely never know who the security pros are and how they watch. The most important thing you can do is to do things that are very out of character for a counter and do them often. Don’t dress like you think a card counter looks. Dress like someone on vacation. Split tens when the deck is ice cold. Talk to someone at the table and make a bad bet as if you aren’t really paying attention. You will lose some hands this way, of course, but if you don’t do it convincingly the chances are good that you will be marked.
Sharing information among themselves
If you are playing in a gambling mecca such as Las Vegas, getting banned as a card counter in one casino will likely lead to being banned in others. While casinos compete for you gambling dollar, they also take care of their own. The “Black Book” in Las Vegas is legendary. While somewhat mythical, the truth is that a common pool of information does exist and is shared by casinos. With new facial recognition software being developed and integrated every day, a ban in one casino will quickly spread throughout the Strip.
The fix: Plain and simple, don’t get banned. Play in lots of different casinos. Do not milk the cow dry at one casino until you are caught. Take small wins instead of large ones and move on to another session at another casino. If you are counting cards for a living, blackjack is your livelihood. Treat it that way and take every measure you can prevent being blacklisted.
Relying on front-line defenses
In a casino, the front-line defense against card counting are the shift supervisors and pit bosses. These employees use a note-taking method which is called “rating” to track and monitor play. These notes then become a part of a hug data base that can be accessed by security personnel higher up the chain. If a pit boss becomes suspicious, he/she may deploy front-line methods to deter you. Comping you a meal to get you to leave the table (non-counters will almost always fall for this trick). Initiating conversation with you while you play and asking questions about where you are from and what you do for a living. Changing dealers or shuffling up mid-shoe. The casinos reckon that about 90% of all suspected card counters can be dealt with from the floor.
The fix: Strive to be anonymous. Be friendly with shift supervisors and pit bosses but not overly friendly. Do not use a player rewards card. This is the key to rating your play. Sometimes they will ask you for an ID if you do not have a player’s card and then you will have no choice but to leave if you do not want notes on your play entered into the computer. Minimize attention-getting plays such as doubling down on a hard 12.
With a little care and caution you can avoid being spotted as a counter. Many counters have done it for years. Sometimes, though, even the best in the business get caught.
You should also check out what happened to this guy at valley Forge Casino when caught counting cards!
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