Counting cards is a very well-known strategy used by card players to improve their odds of winning in the game of Blackjack. It was invented by mathematics genius Edward Thorp. Indeed, blackjack card counting involves keeping a running count and true count of the cards being dealt and the cards remaining in the deck. That way, the card counter knows how likely it is for a good card to be dealt, and bet accordingly.
However, live online blackjack card counting is quite difficult to execute and there are various ways in which the dealer can stop the player from counting cards just as the player can use various strategies to do the same. Let's find out in detail.
Card Counting in Live Dealer Blackjack
Card counting is possible in live dealer blackjack games. However, card counting for live blackjack is made difficult by a few factors. There are quite a few defense mechanisms at work. The most obvious one is that the game is played with multiple decks of cards, reshuffled after each round. Even though the reshuffling frequency is lesser than it is in online blackjack tables, deck penetration in live dealer blackjack stands at less than 50%. Plus, there are additional methods used such as auto reshuffle machines and 'burning' of the cards that further decrease the possibility of card counting.
Apart from the use of multiple decks, live dealer blackjack games employ other techniques to help identify players who are trying to count cards or cheat in some other ways. For instance, the software monitoring the game keeps a count of the shoe.
If a player exhibits a suspiciously high winning streak, he will be flagged and reported to the operator.
Of course, no player can be banned for winning but for many card counters, their betting patterns consistently match with the shoe count and this raises an alarm for the casino.
Ways for Live Dealer Blackjacks to Stop Counters
Card counting online, especially in live dealer blackjack, is even more difficult because of the rules of the game and the way it is played, which poses some restrictions for the counters. Some of these ways are:
Use of Multi-Decks
The use of multiple decks is the most obvious reason why card counters find it difficult to implement the technique. Live dealer blackjack games are played with 8 decks of 52 cards and shoe penetration is just 50% because it is changed just as 4 decks have been dealt.
Further, on some tables, auto shuffling is facilitated to provide a fresh shoe before each hand is dealt. This is, though rare, extremely unfavorable for the card counters. Burning of the cards, which indicates the act of removing the cards face down or top cards from the deck before dealing the hands is common in live dealer blackjack.
This technique of burning increases the risk of the count going wrong even if the player attempts to count the cards.
In online live blackjack, a continuous shuffling machine (CSM) allows the use of multiple decks that get reshuffled at every hand. Effectively, a continuous shuffler ensures the multiple decks of cards are reset and completely reshuffled at every single hand, making card counting virtually useless.
So why don't all casinos use a continuous shuffler on every blackjack table, then? Well, these machines are expensive and literally kill the dreams of many card counters. And while it seems good, it also makes a lot of card counters go elsewhere and most counters aren't massive professional winners, so their custom is welcomed.
In blackjack, card counting can be done most effectively when there are adequate rounds per hour, making it worth the time of the player. The more hands the player can play per hour, the higher can he expect to make.
However, the scenario in a live dealer blackjack game is just the opposite. These games are extremely slow as the individual players are required to click buttons to communicate their playing decisions. This makes card counting quite fruitless.
While a professional card counter plays 100-300 rounds per hour, even the fastest live dealer blackjack games deal less than 50 rounds per hour. This low round per hour is a major setback for card counters in live dealer games.
Bet Tracking Software
Almost all live dealer blackjack games use software to track not just the shoes being dealt but also the betting patterns of each player on the table. If a player is counting cards, his bets will consistently match the count. As such, a card counter cannot possibly hide while playing online.
Such discrepancy will immediately alert the casino and the player will be spotted soon. Card counting is not illegal but if the player is seen to be winning multiple rounds of the game using this technique, he can certainly be considered a cheat and banned from a particular casino.
Strategies That Work with Live Dealer Blackjacks
In spite of the fact that card counting is made difficult in live dealer blackjack games, there are other strategies that players can make suitable use of to beat the casino's edge. The simplest but important strategy to remember is to avoid playing at tables where the minimum bet is more than 5% of the player's bankroll. With a minimum bet of 5% or lower, the player will be able to play longer.
Similarly, in order to maximize your chances at the game, you must play one hand at a time while also sitting as far as possible from the dealer. If you are playing with a strategy in mind, it will be easier to focus on the same with one hand instead of multiple hands. Sitting far away from the dealer, on the other hand, helps the player to closely observe the cards that are being played out.
In situations where card counting is not possible, the best thing to do is to memorize and use the optimal blackjack strategy charts. Such charts let the player know what exactly to do with specific hands such as when he has a 10 and a 4 and the dealer has a 10 and a 2 and so on.
While playing live dealer blackjack, it is better not to take insurance either. This is because insurance is a good move if the player can count cards but with multiple decks where card counting is not possible, taking insurance can be disastrous. Finally, in live dealer blackjack, you should always choose a blackjack table that pays 3:2 so that the house edge does not end up increasing.
So, counting cards in online live dealer blackjack games is not impossible but extremely difficult for players to execute. By applying certain strategies, however, players can improve their odds in a live dealer game.
This article was published on July 16, 2021, and last updated on July 16, 2021.