Card counting has long been the most attractive advantage gambling technique. It delivers guaranteed profits when done right and it isn’t overly complicated. If you’re a blackjack player, you might feel that card counting is definitely worth trying.
However, you should consider the following seven factors before diving head-first into the matter. After all, you don’t want to waste time and energy with card counting if it’s not right for you.
1 – You’re Just a Casual Player
Real money blackjack is a fun game in itself. You don’t necessarily have to learn advanced techniques to make it more entertaining.
You may find basic strategy to be challenging enough. The latter involves knowing when to hit, stand, split, and double down based on the situation.
Blackjack strategy charts help you memorize the correct moves. You can take as much time as you need with these charts when playing online blackjack.
However, you might want to look over a strategy chart prior to stepping into a land-based casino. After all, dealers and fellow players don’t want you slowing down games while referring to a chart every hand.
With basic strategy and good rules, you can look forward to 99.5% RTP. This RTP may not give you an advantage over the casino, but it’s about as good as it gets for an amateur gambler.
2 – You’re Not Interested in Counting Cards
Most blackjack players don’t walk into the casino thinking that they’re professionals. Instead, they’re hoping that luck is on their side.
If you fall into this class, then you likely don’t feel like learning card counting. While counting cards isn’t extremely difficult in comparison to other advantage gambling methods, it does require some level of effort.
You first need to master a system. This learning process actually doesn’t take that long with simple systems, as the Hi-Lo or Knockout (KO).
The practice, though, does take a while. After all, you don’t want to enter a casino expecting to play like an expert just because you know a system.
Instead, you must perfect a counting strategy through hours of practice. If this doesn’t sound fun or at least bearable, then you’ll want to stick with basic strategy.
3 – You Don’t Have a Large Bankroll
Bankroll management is the biggest aspect that new card counters overlook. They think that they’ll take casinos by storm after mastering a particular system.
The problem here, though, is that you won’t have a huge advantage over casinos even with expert play. The Hi-Lo, which is one of the most advantageous systems, only provides between a 1% and 1.5% edge.
This thin advantage means that you’ll experience plenty of ups and downs. Card counting isn’t like the movies, where actors walk in and immediately make tens of thousands of dollars. Instead, it’s a slow process that involves grinding out profits.
Assuming you have a 1% edge, for example, then you’ll earn $1,000 for every $100,000 bet. But these winnings don’t come in linear fashion.
As a solo counter, you should have anywhere from a $6,000 to $8,000 bankroll to survive the volatility. As a team, you’ll want between $18,000 and $25,000.
Of course, nothing forces you to start with a large bankroll. But you’ll be more susceptible to the volatility and, thus, losing your bankroll when starting with fewer funds.
4 – You’re Expecting Huge Profits
As explained above, card counting profits aren’t consistent. You may win $5,000 one night and lose $4,000 the next.
If you see card counting as a get-rich-quick scheme, then you’ll be severely disappointed. You can earn low six figures annually with this method if you’re good enough. But you’re highly unlikely to earn seven figures in any given year.
Advantage gambling is like any job in that the cream rises to the top. The absolute top card counters might make mid-six figures per year.
The same gamblers normally use shuffle tracking on top of counting cards. Shuffle tracking is a more advanced technique that can provide up to a 5% edge. However, it requires much more time to master than card counting.
Even if you’re only counting cards, you may struggle in the beginning. Keeping a proper count during a live game is quite a shock at first.
That said, you shouldn’t expect millions when counting cards. You’ll need to temper expectations until gaining experience and confidence.
5 – You’d Be Totally Embarrassed to Get Kicked Out
Card counting isn’t illegal, but it’s definitely not acceptable at casinos. After all, casinos are private establishments that maintain the right to kick out advantage gamblers.
Pit bosses will make their way around a gambling floor to look for potential advantage gamblers. Most are adept enough to spot a decent card counter.
That said, you want to take various steps to camouflage your play. The more you look like a casual player, the better chance you have at sticking around the table.
Even the best camouflaging techniques, though, still aren’t foolproof methods. If you’d find it completely embarrassing to be walked out of the casino, then you probably shouldn’t try card counting.
Even if you’re not bothered by this thought, you’ll likely be banned from whatever casino catches you. You’ll particular hate this if you’re counting at local casinos and eventually run out of nearby options.
6 – You Don’t Feel Like Casino Hopping
Casino hopping is one of the best ways to avoid getting thrown out of gambling establishments. It allows you to quickly hit the blackjack tables and leave before a pit boss becomes suspicious.
It works well with camouflaging to disguise your advantage play. It also keeps you from getting banned by too many casinos.
However, you might not be the type of person who enjoys visiting multiple venues per night. You may instead just want to enjoy yourself at one or two great casinos.
Nothing bars you from sitting at the same table and counting for an entire evening. Your chances of getting caught, though, go sky high when doing so.
Las Vegas is the world’s best place to count cards because it offers so many casinos. Atlantic City, Biloxi, Pennsylvania, and Tunica are other examples of casino-rich areas. If you don’t live near one of these cities/states, then you’ll find casino hopping difficult anyways.
7 – You Like Comps Too Much
Every gambler likes getting free stuff on the side of their play. This is exactly why brick and mortar casinos offer comps.
When gambling in casinos, many establishments routinely give free drinks, meals, and even hotel stays to loyal customers. Under normal circumstances, you’ll want to sign up for the player’s club and take advantage of these perks.
As a card counter, though, you should think twice about joining the player’s club. Too many problems arise when you sign up for the loyalty program:
You may not get much benefit and ultimately waste time by signing up for programs while casino hopping.
You voluntarily give away information to the staff.
Regarding the latter point, pit bosses will often ask for your ID if they suspect that you’re a counter. Common logic suggests that you must hand over your ID.
After all, casinos need to do their part by keeping out underage gamblers. It seems like they should be able to request identification at any point.
But that’s all they can do—make a request. Neither a pit boss, security team, nor any other casino employee have a legal right to your ID.
They’re not police officers, and they can’t legally force you to present identification. This gives you the ability to wear a disguise and come back to the same casino at another date.
However, the staff will have no problem figuring out who you are if you signed up for the player’s club. They can look for your ID on file and likely match up your picture. Going further, they’ll probably ban you from the property and any associated properties.
Card counting isn’t as difficult as some people think it is. However, it’s still not for every blackjack player.
Successful counting requires practice and skill. You can’t merely learn a system and expect to dominate the tables.
If you’re not up to this challenge, then there’s nothing wrong with using basic strategy. You don’t need to study basic strategy as long, and you can look forward to 99.5% RTP with good rules.
Assuming you’ve read the seven points here and still want to try card counting, then you should give it a try. You can make profits with the right attitude and approach.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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