Card games like blackjack have always had players who like to try and find some kind of edge, usually via using mathematics or memory tricks. Card counting in blackjack is a valid and effective way of giving yourself an edge. It is a game where you are always playing against the house, which, by definition, holds all the power - similarly to new UK slots.
In order to try and take some of that power for yourself, you can count cards while playing blackjack. The techniques behind counting cards are discussed elsewhere, and are beyond the scope of this article. But what we will look at here is the question of whether card counting is allowed or not, and how casinos try and prevent their customers from using perfectly valid techniques like card counting to boost their chances of success.
Is card counting illegal?
The first thing to state unequivocally is that card counting is in no way illegal. After all, all this technique uses is your memory and your ability to count. All you are doing when counting cards is assigning cards a value that allows you to more easily calculate your chances of success when betting on a game of blackjack. It would be very hard for casinos to outlaw the use of maths and memory by gamblers!
Five things to know about card counting
Here are five things that it is important to know about when it comes to counting cards.
- By counting cards you are not cheating.
Casinos may not like their customers counting cards, but this is because card counting reduces the potential profits that they can make from their customers. It would be like preventing a chess player from using their brain, or a top soccer player from using their ability to react to events. In other words, it’s impossible. Real life is not like Hollywood movies, where card counters can bet chased from casinos in dramatic scenes.
- Casinos can stop successful players from playing in them
Anyone who wins frequently in a casino is going to attract attention. Casinos do reserve the right to ask players to stop playing and leave. This is just the way that the gambling industry works – online sports bookies will often limit the accounts of particularly successful sports punters.
But just because casinos do not like it and can ask you to leave does not mean that card counting is illegal. Successful gamblers will always attract attention, and may need to change their casino frequently if they get too good at card counting. You should just accept this as one of the potential costs of success.
- You are playing the game exactly as the casino presents it
Card counting is not like using loaded dice, nor is it like hiding cards up your sleeve. Rather, it is better to see it as using intellect to win a game, in much the same way as in a game of Scrabble. It is not your concern that blackjack just happens to be a game where card counting can be applied perfectly. Blackjack, as it is offered by casinos, is a game that can be won by card counting – this is just a simple fact and there is nothing really that any casino can do to change this.
- Card counting works and you can make money by doing it
There are plenty of books and websites devoted to the art of card counting, a sign of just how widespread the practice is, and just how many people have made a success out of it. Professional card counters post advice on many online forums and social media pages, and you can check this out for yourself. It is all perfectly legal and legitimate.
- Card counting is accessible by anyone
To count cards successfully you do not need to be a mathematical genius, and neither do you need to possess a photographic memory. Card counting is a technique that can be learned and perfected by anyone who has an aptitude for card games. You simply need to be able to concentrate on what you are doing. You also need to practice the technique at home to perfect it before you take to the blackjack tables of your favourite casino.
How casinos respond to card games strategies
The thing that all gamblers need to know about casinos is that they are out to make as much money as possible from their customers. While much of the marketing that goes around casinos presents them as some kind of adult theme park, their aim is empty as much cash as possible from your bank account. This means that, while card counting is in no way illegal, casinos do not like their customers to be doing it. It is the same as with some cheats that were apparent in slot machines and made casinos respond by producing new slots games that do not allow that.
Casinos have a number of ways of spotting and stopping card counters from operating on their premises, so if you want to indulge in a spot of card counting, you need to be aware of these techniques. We list a few of them here.
- Casinos will try and break your concentration by having the dealer and other employers chat to you.
- Some casinos will deploy facial recognition software to keep ‘blacklisted’ players out of their premises. If you have enjoyed some success with card counting, you may find yourselfs on a blacklist.
- More decks can be added to the shoe to make it harder to count cards.
- They might ‘flat bet’ you, making it against the rules of the game to change your bet during a shoe.
Last thoughts on the legality of this Gambling Practice
Card counting is not illegal, and there is little that casinos can do to prevent it. You need to know what you are doing to become successful at it, though, and to avoid detection by the casino. Practice the techniques associated with card counting before you take it to the casino. The more work you put into perfecting the technique, the more likely you are to enjoy success and avoid detection.