Ever since Edward O. Thorp released his book, Beat the Dealer, in 1962, men and women have been flocking to casinos to try their hand at card counting. Most walk away from the table disappointed, however, as their knowledge of card counting is not complete enough to succeed. It also doesn’t help that casinos use a number of tricks and techniques to fight card counters, and this list is dedicated to some of the more common methods.
1. With the exception of Atlantic City, casinos throughout the United States have a legal right to ask any player to leave. While they can’t discriminate on the basis of gender, race, or age, that still leaves a lot of latitude for ejecting a player. Casinos won’t hesitate to toss out a successful card counter, and they’ll go to great lengths to keep them from playing there in the future. This is why many successful advantage players use disguises.
2. Casino employees are the first line of defense against card counters. Blackjack dealers will often be taught to count cards in order to spot advantage players, while other tell-tale signs include large buy-ins and bets, as well as table hopping.
3. When a player suddenly increases their wager, the house may counter by shuffling the cards. This can hurt the house, though, as the additional time spent shuffling cards reduces the number of hands played and the casino’s overall earnings. This problem can be overcome, however, by use of an automatic card shuffler.
4. Since many card counters prefer to stand back from the table, count the cards, and then sit down when they’re at an advantage, some casinos will prevent new players from entering in the middle of a shoe.
5. Some blackjack tables now include scanners which examine the play of each individual and look for patterns that might indicate an advantage player.
6. Counting cards requires concentration, so the casino has been known to send an employee over to engage the card counter in conversation. This distracts the player, preventing them from keeping an accurate count of the cards. In past decades, even more physical methods were used.
7. The pit boss can require the player to flat bet, meaning they must wager the same amount on every hand. Since card counting relies on making large wagers when the cards are in the player’s favor, this acts as an effective deterrent.
8. In addition to keeping photos of known card counters, casinos may also employ image recognition software designed to help see through the disguise of an advantage player.
9. Surveillance systems are installed in every major casino, and these can be used to monitor and identify a card counter.
10. The casino may change the rules at a table to discourage advantage players from sitting down. This can include the rules regarding playing multiple hands, splitting, doubling down, or the amount wagered during a show.
It should be noted that card counting is not illegal. It’s simply a method that allows players to determine when the remaining cards work to their advantage and when they do not. If you decide to engage in card counting, I suggest you put in plenty of practice before heading to the casino. And if you do meet with success, make sure you’re as discreet as possible.