One of the most frequent questions asked by Counting Edge readers is whether or not online casinos cheat at blackjack and if learning how to count cards can prevent it. The answer is not a simple yes or no. To understand how blackjack is played online, how the casinos operate the game, and the effectiveness of card counting requires a more detailed explanation.
Do Online Casinos Cheat at Blackjack?
It may seem like blackjack in the online casino is a more difficult game to beat, and that is an honest perception. You will frequently encounter situations where the dealer draws a 5 to his 16 to beat your 20. It will happen with such regularity that most players will begin to suspect the online casino is somehow manipulating the cards.
While it is certainly possible that some online casinos violate player trust and do cheat, the reality is that most of them play it square. Getting caught cheating would put them out of business. The reason the dealer seems to make miracles happen in online blackjack can all be traced back to a single principle: in online blackjack the deck is shuffled after every hand.
Additionally, online blackjack uses one deck of 52 cards. Therefore, when you play online blackjack you are getting true odds on every hand. The deck does not shift up and down in either the player or the house’s favor. The standard house edge of roughly 1.5% applies on every hand. In other words, you can expect to lose in the long run if you sit there indefinitely. The great thing is that you don’t have to sit there indefinitely and can use good basic strategy to improve your chances.
Can I Count Cards in Online Blackjack?
Yes, you can count cards in online blackjack. Is it effective? In most cases, the benefits of counting cards in online blackjack is very small due to the use of one deck and a shuffle after each hand.
In a live casino six to eight decks are most commonly used. Card counting is effective because over six to eight decks a player can begin to get an understanding of how many positive cards are in the deck as opposed to how many negative ones remain. That understanding is the essence of counting cards.
When a deck is hot, meaning it has a high positive value, the card counter can maximize his or her advantage by betting big. When the count is low, bets can be reduced. The presence of a very favorable count in a live casino can even prompt a player to take risks that fly in the face of basic strategy.
For example, basic blackjack strategy would mandate that you never split tens. Overall, it is a losing proposition. However, smart card counters know that splitting tens can be a good play when the count is very high. In addition, if done properly, splitting tens can make the player look like an amateur that doesn’t really know what they are doing and just got lucky.
In online blackjack, this kind of situation is not likely to occur. Because it is impossible to determine if a deck is positive or negative after each shuffled hand, you would be better off never splitting tens as basic strategy suggests.
Why Count Cards in Online Blackjack?
There is one major reason you should count cards in online blackjack: improving your skills. While basic strategy will be far more effective than card counting in terms of profitability, using online blackjack to sharpen your card counting skills is affordable and fun. Most online blackjack games will allow you to play for as little as $1 per hand. You can practice card counting and not risk a lot of money.
If you stick to good basic strategy for online blackjack (don’t split those tens!), you could even win some money while you practice. Some of our readers have reported sizable profits using the small ball blackjack strategy.
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