Can You Count Cards in Atlantic City?

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Atlantic City

No location is better for card counting than Las Vegas. Sin City offers over 100 casinos where you can potentially count cards.

With only seven casinos, Atlantic City doesn’t offer nearly the same number of advantage-play opportunities. Nevertheless, it still remains a potential counting destination.

Atlantic City is especially interesting given that they have a unique rule that allows card counting. You can read about this rule below along with the viability of counting in this East Coast gambling hub.

Atlantic City Can’t Bar Advantage Gamblers

When you think of card counters, you may envision skilled gamblers being escorted out of the casino by security. In most cases, you’d be right.

Many gambling jurisdictions give casinos the greenlight to toss advantage players out. After all, casinos are private establishments that can refuse service to gamblers.

They often kick out suspected card counters to avoid losing money to them. Atlantic City, however, is different in this regard.

AC casinos aren’t allowed to discriminate against skilled players. This rule is due to a 1979 court case dubbed Uston v. Resorts International Hotel Inc.

What Is Uston vs. Resorts International?

New Jersey legalized casino gambling in Atlantic City in 1978. Shortly thereafter, professional gambler Ken Uston and his card counting team moved to the area.

Uston was no stranger to both beating casinos and getting barred from them. He got himself banned from pretty much every gambling venue in Las Vegas.

Tired of this trend, Uston fought his ban in Atlantic City. He took Resorts casino to court and won.

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that AC casinos couldn’t ban advantage gamblers. Casinos have been forced to treat skilled players the same as anybody else to this day.

You Should Theoretically Be Able to Count Cards with Ease

You don’t need to worry about being kicked out of AC gambling venues for counting cards. You’re perfectly in the right to count so long as you aren’t disrupting customers or causing any other problems.

Atlantic City

This scenario differs greatly from playing for profits anywhere else. Vegas, Detroit, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and other popular gambling destinations will toss you for counting.

You must expend a great deal of mental energy to blend in and avoid getting thrown out. However, you can breathe a sigh of relief when counting in Atlantic City—at least in theory.

Problems with AC Blackjack Games

As you know, casinos don’t like giving you an easy chance to win profits. They do, after all, hold an advantage in almost every situation.

Therefore, Atlantic City gambling establishments don’t blindly offer you beatable games. They take the following legal measures to make the counting process difficult on you.

8 Decks

Decades ago, you could look forward to single-deck blackjack games in many casinos. Single-deck games boost your chances of winning profits when counting or just playing with basic strategy.

Most casinos around the world—especially those in Atlantic City—have added six or eight decks to the shoe. The house edge increases by 0.58% when the number of decks goes from one to eight.

These multi-deck shoes make card counting less profitable. When combined with low deck penetration (covered next), you have no chance to beat a six or eight-deck game.

Less Deck Penetration

As an advantage player, you need deck penetration to consistently win. A higher count with fewer cards remaining means that you can bet more with confidence.

Tables that allow 75% penetration (three-fourths of a shoe) give you a strong chance to profit. Games with 70% or less penetration, on the other hand, create a dicier proposition.

Casinos are aware of this fact and will shuffle well before 75% penetration. Those in Atlantic City are especially prone to placing the cut card halfway (50% penetration) in the shoe or earlier.

Continuous Shuffling Machines

A continuous shuffling machine (CSM) automatically shuffles cards. It accomplishes two main goals for the casino:

  • Keeps games moving faster by shuffling for the dealer.
  • Thwarts card counters.

The second part is the killer for advantage gamblers. CSMs prevent significant deck penetration by continually shuffling cards.

Luckily, many recreational players don’t like CSMs. These machines make the game feel too robotic for the average gambler. Nevertheless, some Atlantic City casinos aren’t afraid to employ CSMs to stop card counting.

Rules Specifically Aimed at Counters

No law prevents AC gambling venues from placing maximum stakes on players or shuffling at any point. If the pit boss thinks that you’re counting, they can walk up to the table and tell the dealer to reshuffle halfway through the deck.

They could also limit your max bet to $50. Such a low max wager would prevent you from capitalizing on favorable counts.

The pit boss doesn’t even need to create rules specifically for you. They could simply strike up a conversation and throw you off your game.

Atlantic City Blackjack Games Are Tough to Count – But Not Impossible

You can see that AC casinos don’t go down without a fight. They take various measures to make counting harder on you.

If every casino in the town used CSMs or severely reduced deck penetration, then you’d stand no chance to win. Luckily, though, this isn’t entirely the case.

Some AC casinos provide beatable games just like in other prominent gambling destinations. You just aren’t going to find any easy opportunities.

Tips for Counting Cards in Atlantic City

Assuming you want to win profits in AC, then you must be on top of your game. The following tips will improve your odds of winning money at Atlantic City blackjack tables.

Have the Proper Bankroll

Chances are, you’re not counting cards as a leisurely activity. Instead, you’re learning and employing this skill to earn profits.

The problem with card counting, though, is that it doesn’t provide you with a huge edge. You’ll only gain between a 0.5% and 1.5% advantage if you’re good enough.

Even at the higher range, you could easily suffer a losing streak. The larger bets that you must make during favorable counts increase the risk involved.

That said, you want to count cards with a big bankroll. You should aim to have at least $6,000 – $8,000 as a solo counter and $18,000 – $25,000 as a team.

Learn the Hi-Lo System

The card counting world is filled with different systems. These strategies differ based on their complexity and size of advantage that they offer.

You may be tempted to go for an extremely easy system, such as the Knockout (KO). Or, you might see the greatest challenge with a really difficult card counting strategy, like the Omega II.

Atlantic City

However, the Hi-Lo system offers the best of both worlds. It’s accurate enough to provide you with a solid advantage and is also easy to learn.

The first thing that you must understand is the point values assigned to each card grouping:

  • Low cards (2-6) = +1
  • Neutral cards (7-9) = 0
  • High cards (A-10) = -1

You count each card that’s dealt and assign it a value according to the groupings above. You also need to convert this “running count” into a “true count.”

The true count represents the adjusted count based on the multi-deck shoe. After all, you won’t find any profitable single-deck games in Atlantic City.

To make this conversion, you divide the running count by the estimated remaining decks. Here’s an example:

  • Your running count is +6.
  • You estimate that two decks are left in the shoe.
  • 6 / 2 = +3 true count

Given the amount of deck penetration and high true count, you definitely want to raise your bets in this situation.

Increase Bets Accordingly

You capitalize on favorable counting opportunities by raising your bets during positive counts—especially as you get deeper into the shoe.

The question, though, becomes when exactly you raise bets. You also need a guideline on how much to raise them by.

Here’s a common method used by many successful card counters:

  • Start by placing minimum table bets (e.g. $10).
  • Set a unit size (e.g. $50).
  • Determine the true count (e.g. +4).
  • Subtract 1 from the true count (4 – 1 = 3).
  • Multiply this figure by your unit (50 x 3 = 150).
  • You bet the amount of money (no. of units) based on your math.

Scout Out Games Ahead of Time

Again, Atlantic City casinos can’t escort you out just for counting cards. They can, however, make life more difficult on you.

You should research and/or personally scout games ahead of time before playing. Your goal is to find AC gambling establishments that are more lenient with regard to counters.

Casinos that let you spread your bets, as in the earlier example, without bringing too much heat are ideal. Meanwhile, you want to stay away from venues that immediately shuffle decks earlier and/or limit your max bet.

Sharpen Your Skills

Learning card counting and putting it into use are two different things. You need to be well-practiced before entering the casino and risking serious money.

Several worthwhile card counting practice techniques exist, including the following:

  • Deal cards to yourself and other (fake) players at the table while counting.
  • Have a friend deal cards to you while mimicking the dealer.
  • Use an online card counting trainer.
  • Count cards off to the side of a live game.
  • Play for low stakes while practicing your abilities.


Atlantic City seems like the most-lucrative place to count cards. After all, its gambling establishments aren’t allowed to kick you out for being an advantage player.

However, AC casinos can use other means to throw you off. They can place the cut card earlier in a shoe, limit your max wager, and chat with you to ruin your concentration.

Above all, Atlantic City blackjack games feature tough rules that make profits hard to come by. The good news, though, is that it’s not impossible to win money in AC. You just need to sharpen your skills and choose the right casinos.

Michael Stevens

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 since early 2016. ...

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