Card counting is a technique that blackjack players use to improve their odds of winning by counting cards and deriving a tally of how many "good cards" remain to be dealt, in the dealer's shoe.
Online blackjack card counting, however, is quite difficult and often, impossible. This is because online blackjack software allows casinos to use automated and software tools that just can't exist in a land-based casino.
Let's find out the ways in which online blackjack discourages and prevents card counting.
Deck Penetration When Counting Cards
Deck penetration is a term referring to how many cards are dealt before the deck is reshuffled. Deck penetration is expressed as a percentage rate and the higher the percentage that is the level of deck penetration, the more accurate is the card count. The deck penetration percentage is obviously higher in single and double-deck blackjack games as it is easier to count how many cards are left in the deck, as the game progresses.
Deck penetration might be difficult but quite possible in blackjack games with 4, 6, or 8 card decks as well. The scenario, however, has to be in favor of the player. For instance, shoes should not be reshuffled after each hand. A favorable situation allowing better deck penetration is when in a 6 deck game, the 5 full decks are dealt before reshuffling. An average deck percentage is 4.5 out of 6 decks being dealt before reshuffling.
That being said, when you are playing online blackjack for money, card counting is not of much help. Both live dealer blackjack games, as well as virtual ones, are designed to prevent deck penetration as much as possible. In live blackjack games, there is a huge demand for tables that have a deck penetration percentage higher than 50%, which is very hard to find. While they have a way to deter card counting, live dealer blackjack games are not rigged. Especially ones hosted on licensed online casinos.
Many players wonder why card counting is so difficult with online blackjack. Well, the primary reason is that in online blackjack, the decks are reshuffled automatically after each hand. In the live tables, even a 50% deck penetration appears to be low and of little significance for the player because, in these games, the dealers are trained to shuffle the deck after half of the cards or so have been dealt.
Card Counting In Non-Live Blackjack Games
So, why is card counting almost impossible in online blackjack?
Let's begin by understanding the difference between online blackjack (non-live) and live-dealer online blackjack. The former is an entirely computer-simulated video blackjack while the latter is blackjack featuring a live video feed of a real blackjack table and a real dealer.
In non-live online blackjack, there is neither any shoe to penetrate nor a dealer. Indeed, the cards are randomly generated and that the cards are effectively shuffled is established by the use of RNG, which is an algorithm for generating these numbers. In fact, a more advanced algorithm called the PRNG is being used these days.
Because of the absence of any particular shuffle order and any cut card 80% of the way through the 6-8 shuffled decks, the card counting efforts of the player become redundant after each new round and the counting has to be started again, fresh. That is why; players cannot keep a running tally of more than a single card and this obviously, brings them no benefits in a game of non-live online blackjack.
Card Counting With Online Live Dealer Blackjack
While the legality of blackjack card counting does not stop players from counting cards legally, making the technique of card counting work even in live online blackjack is extremely difficult. There are several ways in which live dealer blackjack prevents card counting.
Deck penetration is very complex with live dealer blackjack games because, in these, the decks are shuffled using Continuous Shuffling Machines. Even in games that don't use CSMs, there will be dealers shuffling the cards in the middle of the shoe, making card counting highly ineffective.
Also, not all the players at the table will be playing with the standard strategy. Some will assume that the previous cards dealt will possibly have no bearing on the decision of the other players while the ones using advanced strategies will know that this will not be the case always. On-table decisions along with the experience of the players will impact the way the card counter plays and hence, he will not be able to rely on the cards he is expecting to get.
Dealer tells are also discouraged in online blackjack. The dealer does not know what his down card is until the betting is complete. The card, though scanned, is not revealed to the dealer either. This is deliberately done to stop dealer tells and prevent fraud and collision. Thus, no player can depend on the dealer for playing decisions.
Other Ways Casinos Discourage Card Counting Online
There are a few other reasons why card counting gets automatically discouraged and in a way, prevented in online blackjack.
Card counting is further prevented in online blackjack by casinos using the software. This software monitors the game as well as keeps a count of the shoe as it is being dealt. In fact, many casino platforms use AI software to identify possible card counters through their betting patterns. When a particular player's betting patterns consistently match the count, the casino is alerted. In online blackjack, card counters cannot hide. They get easily spotted and can be stopped from playing the game if they are found to be persistently trying to take advantage.
Low Rounds per Hour
Online blackjack is extremely slow, compared to the games played in brick-and-mortar casinos. This comes in the player's way of card counting. The combination of full tables requires the players to click on buttons to communicate their playing decisions, slowing down the pace to a great extent. Usually, a professional card counter plays 100-300 rounds per hour and the maximum speed that a player can expect in an online live dealer blackjack is 50 rounds per hour. The online blackjack games can be maximum of 20 rounds per hour. Card counting is impossible in such slow blackjack games.
So, for players wondering how to count cards in blackjack when playing it online, the answer is that you can definitely try as it is legal. However, the way online blackjack games are played, card counting turns out to be, by and large, an avoidable and unprofitable practice.
This article was published on June 27, 2021, and last updated on October 21, 2022.