Is it Illegal to Count Cards?
There has always been a certain amount of mythology surrounding astute card players. Some consider these individuals savants in regards to their prowess while others automatically assume that they are cheating the house. In truth, there are certainly times when both observations are applicable. These instances only a small statistical portion of those who are actively involved within the industry. This is why we should address another talented type of player. Those who know how to count cards can dramatically reduce (or altogether eliminate) the house edge. Therefore, many false perceptions tend to dominate their skills as well as how they are applied. Let us take an in-depth look at the theory behind card counting as well as the associated legality.
Counting Cards During Live Casino Games: The Basics
While counting cards can be employed during certain situations such as those associated with poker, the most common reason to employ this method involves blackjack. The basic premise is to beat the dealer before breaking the value of 21 (obviously). The first concept to appreciate is that blackjack employs 52 cards in total. So, the ultimate goal of the player is being able to determine (within a reasonable limit) which cards have already been chosen. This provides a statistically increased chance to surmise the probability to drawing a certain card such as a king or a two. Players will also know when to take large risks as well as when to hold what they have in their hand.
Assuming that counting cards at blackjack is performed correctly, it is reasonable to assume that the player will improve his or her odds of winning by just over one per cent. Of course, this does not sound like a massive margin. The main takeaway point here is that most successful card counters will play multiple hands during a given session. Over time, this seemingly narrow window will quickly add up.
Is it Legal to Count Cards?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions, and for good reason. We have seen countless films portraying an adept player being thrown out of a casino for counting cards. You might be very surprised to learn that this practice is absolutely legal within the United Kingdom as well as throughout the United States. However, it is still frowned upon my management. This is understandable from the point of view of a casino.
Assuming that a professional card counter is allowed to continue playing, he or she is likely to garner a considerable amount of winnings during a relatively short time frame. Not only will this completely eliminate any house edge that might have been present, but the casino may even begin to lose money. This is the main reason why establishments will often try to identify card counters in order to expel them from the premises. The have the legal right to do so in the very same way that the counter has the right to utilise his or her skills.
The ONLY time when card counting is illegal is when it is combined with other measures such as the use of electronic devices. However, this observation is just as valid with other casino games such as poker and roulette.
How Can You Learn How to Embrace this Talent?
To be perfectly clear, counting cards will require a great deal of time and effort. You will also need to possess a decent memory; particularly when under pressure. Having said this, there is no reason that the majority of players cannot learn how to employ this talent.
The first step is to leverage what is commonly referred to as the high-low count. In this case, you will assign each card a value. Cards ranging from 2 to 6 are associated with a value of 1. 7 to 9 are not given any value. Tens, face cards and aces are attributed a value of -1. Players will adopt this strategy because a higher aggregate score during the count signifies that the other cards found within the deck hold greater values (such as tens and face cards).
An additional step involves converting these numbers into a format that you can utilise to determine your subsequent strategy. We need to mention an important point here. While the total card count is 52, most live casinos (and the majority of their online counterparts) will employ multiple decks during the game in an attempt to thwart counting. However, there is a way around this. You will need to divide the number of unused decks by your number. For example, let’s assume that two decks remain closed and your count equates to 12. In this instance, your count would be 6.
If the numbers are in your favour (high digits), it is wise to increase your bets. If their value is closer to zero or even a negative sum, the correct strategy is to lessen your exposure (decrease the wager).
If you are playing within a live casino, it is also important to try and “read” the dealer. Many players feel that this strategy only applies to more complex games such as poker. On the contrary, an inexperienced dealer may provide you with a number of tells which indicate what he or she is holding. Once again, this technique takes time and experience to master.
Is it Possible to Count Cards when Playing an Online Game?
This is an interesting argument and there are two general perspectives. One of the biggest downfalls of many online blackjack games in relation to counting cards is that the gameplay tends to be slower than a live casino. Thus, the task is much more difficult. Another issue is that many virtual casinos limit the number of hands a player can access at any given time.
However, the upside is that some websites will utilise a higher number of decks (this is known as “penetration”). If more decks are used, counting the subsequent cards being dealt is somewhat easier. Still, the fact of the matter is that card counting still tends to dominate the live casino community. There is nothing wrong with employing this method within the virtual world, but always be aware that its impact is not likely to be as profound.
Putting it All Together
Counting cards is no easy task and it will take time to develop this impressive skill. However, those who are motivated can enjoy substantial returns if they exhibit patience and motivation. Although the house advantage cannot be ignored, this “edge” can be substantially reduced by adopting the correct strategies in advance.
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