Ultimate Guide to Card Counting

Arguably the most seductive concept in all of gambling is blackjack card counting. Countless Hollywood movies have depicted counters as intelligent, cunning and suave individuals. To be honest, that is not too far from the truth. Known as "advantage players" in the casino industry, players who count cards are not exactly doing something illegal - it is just something that the casinos hate.

What Is Card Counting?

Card counting is a strategy employed by professional and amateur gamblers, and it is notoriously associated with the game of blackjack. The objective of a card counter is to predict whether or not the next hand will be in his favor, or the dealer's

He or she achieves this feat by keeping track of all the high and low cards that they see as the game goes on. With this close observation, an "advantage player" can keep an ongoing count.

A count or total score will help him or her decide when it is a good idea to start betting more chips. When they feel like the next hand will be in their favor and have sufficiently grinded down the house edge, larger bets are placed resulting in large wins more often than a normal player.

How Does It Work?

So how does card counting work? A player employing this strategy will assign values to each card coming off of the deck. Then, using simple math skills, he or she will keep an ongoing count of all the cards.

The card counter then has an idea of how many Aces and face cards are left in the deck, which will tell him or her if they have a higher chance of hitting "Blackjack". In addition to the greater chances of hitting 21, a player's odds are increased when doubling because there are a large number of face cards left in the deck.

If an advantage player running a count knows that several low cards are left in the deck, such as fours and fives, they will know not to bet big or bet at all. That is because it is an accepted blackjack truth that low cards are not beneficial to the player.

Working As A Team

Since card counting is a known strategy that is frowned upon by casinos, a player who suddenly exponentially increases his bet as he starts winning may be suspicious. Successful card counters have long known this, and in response entire counting teams were created.

In the early 1970's, a man by the name of Ken Uston created the concept of the "Big Player Team". The team consisted of a number of different "spotters" as well as the main "big player". The spotters would count cards as usual while maintaining a running score. When the count becomes favorable for a player, they use some sort of physical signal to let the big player know it's time to sit down.

Acting as a high roller going from table to table, the "big player" simply appears that he is having quite the lucky night. It is not all luck, though. The big player only sits down at tables when the spotters indicate that the getting is good.

He or she will then sit down and immediately fire off large bets. At the end of the night, the spotters and the big player split up the winnings based on a pre-arranged agreement. Often blackjack teams also have a backer, the person who is providing the bankroll and taking a financial risk in the operation.

Live Vs. Online Card Counting

Live card counting obviously works because a player can actually see how many cards are left in the deck. When it comes to card counting online, that simply isn't possible. The computer generated decks and numbers do not act in the same way as a live deck does. With online blackjack, the decks are created and destroyed after every hand. That means even if you were keeping score, you would be doing so for no reward.

Famous Card Counters

There have been some extremely famous card counters over the years. Perhaps the most famous was a team of MIT and Harvard students, notoriously known as the "MIT Blackjack Team". They started off with a small team of 4 players in Atlantic City and grew very quickly to a team of over 35 players. Their story is so infamous that many movies and books were created with their story.

Another famous blackjack card counter team was the Tran organization. The difference with their counting scam was unique, because the players had an even bigger advantage. The dealers were recruited into the scam as well, and they were responsible for marking the high cards. That meant that not only were the scammers counting cards, but they also knew when a dealer had a high card face-down, as well.