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How Do Casinos Prevent Card Counting?

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2021-10-09

Benard Maumo

Ask any casino dealer this question, and you run the risk of being thrown out. Invented by Edward Thorp in the 60s, card counting has been a thorn in the flesh of most casinos. Players, notably the legendary MIT Team, have used card counting in blackjack to make huge profits.

How Do Casinos Prevent Card Counting?

But don’t dare think that casinos are bystanders. They have their own mechanisms of catching up with card counters and defeating this legal strategy. So, do you want to know how a casino catch card-counting players red-handed? Read on!

Relying on the pit boss and the dealer

Sounds obvious, right? Yes, employing a dealer and a pit boss is the first step most casinos take to combat cheating.

Usually, the pit boss will walk around the floor to observe play and help struggling players. And if they notice substantial bet spreads, they may count the cards in the discard tray backward to find any discrepancies. Also, there is another ‘dirty’ trick up their sleeves. Once they suspect a player of counting cards, the pit boss walks up to the player, pretending to act friendly.

But, in the end, their main goal to make you uncomfortable and lose concentration. So now you know why professional card counters switch between 1 to 3 unit bets.

Making the rules worse

Immediately after the Beat the Dealer book was launched in 1961 by Edward Thorp, casinos started creating unfavorable game rules. Of course, this was to make card counting unprofitable.

Today, the best online casinos offer multi-deck shoes. During Thorp’s days, most blackjack games were played using a single deck. This alone increases the house advantage by 1.4%.

Also, some tables allow the dealer to improve their soft hands by hitting a Soft 17. Again, this boosts the house advantage by 0.2%. As little as it seems, this percentage might be all you need to win the round.

Scaring off counters

As if making the gameplay miserable isn’t enough, casinos employ scare tactics to “back off” card counters. In other words, the casino will do everything possible to get into the card counter’s head.

For example, the pit boss might walk around to find card counting players. After that, they may head straight to the dealer and start conversing while pointing at the player. They may also come over and stand near the advantage player. This is to make the player uncomfortable.

Keep records of advantage players

Are you winning more blackjack hands these days? Well, you may already be inside the casino’s ‘bad’ books.

For years now, casinos have perfected the art of keeping a database of blackjack gamers. Some even go as far as contracting third-party database companies to keep tabs on advantage players. A good example is the Griffin Investigations, which is famous for nailing down the MIT Team. Unfortunately, James Grosjean sued the company later on, with Griffin International going bankrupt after that.

All in all, any targeted player will find it difficult to get a seat at a blackjack table. Some casinos will block you altogether.

How to Avoid Getting Caught

It’s vital to note that card counting is absolutely legal in blackjack. However, casinos reserve the right to kick you out of the premises for using this strategy. In addition, other casinos will ban you, depending on the extent of the wrongdoing.

Fortunately, there are multiple tricks to use if you want to avoid getting caught. They include:

  • Making basic or beginner mistakes like hitting when you shouldn’t.
  • Tip the dealer more frequently. Remember, they’ll be happy if you win and tip them off.
  • Always choose the best online casinos as they allow players to count cards.
  • If you’re playing at a land-based casino, switch between casinos to avoid being too familiar on the floor.
  • Keep the count private. In other words, never count visibly or loud.

Conclusion

Now you know the multiple ways that casinos catch card counters and how to avoid getting caught. The trick is finding the right online casino and not appearing too wise. Throw the dealer of their scent by keeping it simple. Another thing, get enough practice with free games before going live.

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AUTHORBenard Maumo

Since I graduated from University of Nairobi in Journalism and Media Studies, I have always had a passion for writing. When I started writing for CasinoRank I was a bit nervous, the gambling industry was new to me, and having no previous experience made me a bit jittery. Despite my nervousity I was keen to learn everything there is to know about iGaming. I have learned about professional-strategies and I always keep up to date with industry-news. I've also been captured by Blackjack and its simplicity, the rules of the game are simple and each round is quick - now I am a regular Blackjack player and try to incorporate my best blackjack-tips for my readers.

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