Live Dealer Casinos: The Perfect Way to Practice Card Counting

Live dealer casinos have become quite popular over the past decade. Using a human dealer and casino studio, they bring a brick-and-mortar gambling experience to you.

That said, you have one major reason for playing at live dealer gaming sites—they’re more authentic than virtual table games.

But live casinos offer another benefit that you may not have thought of before. They’re feature excellent conditions for practicing card counting!

You can keep reading to see why live gaming sites are perfect for sharpening your counting skills. You’ll also find out if it’s possible to make profits in the process.

How Do Players Normally Perfect Their Card Counting Skills?

A few common methods already exist for practicing card counting. I’m going to discuss these techniques and the primary benefit to each one.


A card counting trainer is a program that allows you to practice your counting skills. You had to pay for programs in the past, but now you can find them completely free online.

Trainers deal cards like a normal real money online blackjack game would. The key difference, though, is that they ask you to provide the running count following each hand.

Assuming you’ve correctly tracked the count, the software will proceed to the next hand. If you make a mistake, though, the program will pause to show you the correct count at the moment.

Card counting trainers offer a big benefit by allowing you to comfortably practice counting at home. They’re also great for when you’re first getting into this advantage-play method.

Dealing Cards

You may want to better simulate the casino blackjack setup when practicing your card counting. If so, you’ll find that dealing cards to yourself can be helpful.

This method lets you control the speed at which the cards are dealt. When your abilities approve, you can increase the speed to better mimic a casino dealer.

You might even consider inviting a blackjack friend(s) over and take turns dealing. This way, you can purely focus on counting while your buddy acts as the croupier.

Visiting Casinos

The only way to truly get a feel for counting cards in a casino is by visiting one. Here, you can try and keep up with a real dealer.

What’s great is that you don’t have to wager anything with this technique. Instead, you can simply stand off to the side of different tables and practice.

You want to avoid hovering over the same table for too long. After all, dealers and pit bosses become leery of anybody who just keeps watching a game.

As long as you’re not being weird, then you should be able to practice your counting without being scolded by a dealer or pit boss.

Playing Low Stakes Blackjack

You can take your practice even further by sitting down to a live table and counting while playing low stakes. This method puts you in the player’s seat and provides the most-realistic counting experience available.

Professional card counters increase their bets by anywhere from 8x to 15x the table minimum (e.g. going from $5 to $75) during a favorable count. By sticking with low stakes, you don’t have to worry about losing an incredible amount of money if your count is wrong.

Furthermore, you won’t kicked off the table. Pit bosses look for players with large bet spreads—especially towards the end of a shoe—as a sign of advantage play.

The idea here is simply to the keep up with the dealer’s speed while honing your abilities. Once you feel more comfortable, you can begin spreading your bets.

Why Are Live Casinos Perfect for Practicing Card Carding?

Each of the practice methods covered above can help you transform into a good card counter. But live casinos can take your skills to the next level.

Simulate the Casino Environment

Earlier, I mentioned how you can’t get any more authentic than counting cards in a real casino. But live dealer blackjack sites also simulate the casino environments to a great degree.

Sure, you may be sitting at home and playing blackjack through your smartphone, tablet, or computer. But the action is coming straight from a brick-and-mortar establishment.

A human is dealing real cards on the table. You can’t get any more authentic than this when it comes to practicing your skills.

Low Pressure

Pressure becomes a major problem when you’re counting at low stakes. Even though you’re not risking much money, you’ll feel overwhelmed when blending basic strategy with counting.

As a beginning counter, you’ll also struggle with the speed of the game. Dealers maintain a fast pace to increase the amount of hands being played and, subsequently, the casino’s profits.

But live dealer casinos don’t present quite the same pressurized environment. Sure, you still need to keep up with a human croupier.

However, you won’t feel the pressure of actually sitting at a table and struggling with common casino distractions (e.g. other gamblers, slots sounds).

Practice in Comfort

You probably aren’t thrilled with the idea of visiting a land-based casino just to practice blackjack card counting. You may not even feel like inviting friends over to deal hands.

Live blackjack presents a huge advantage in this area. It allows you to practice anywhere at any time.

You don’t have to drive half an hour or more to a casino. Instead, you can just plop down on the couch and count cards whenever the mood strikes.

Little Risk Involved

Live dealer gaming sites don’t require as high of minimum bets as land-based casinos. Many let you play blackjack for just $1 per hand.

Some live casinos make you wager $5 per hand. Even in this case, though, you’ll still be risking less than at the average brick-and-mortar casino.

You normally must wager between $10 and $25 per blackjack hand at land-based venues. This makes for some expensive “low stakes” practice.

Limitations to Practicing with Live Dealer Gaming

I strongly believe that live dealer casinos are a great way to hone your advantage play skills. For the sake of being somewhat impartial, though, I want to cover the downsides of this method too.

First off, you can’t get any meaningful deck penetration when counting at live casinos. Deck penetration refers to how far into the shoe dealers go before reshuffling.

You stand a much better chance of making profits with more deck penetration. After all, you can have more faith in your count after six of eight decks have been dealt (i.e. 75% penetration).

Live casinos know this and ask their dealers to shuffle much earlier. You’ll normally see less than 40% deck penetration at live gaming sites (approx. 3 of eight decks), which isn’t enough to make consistent profits.

Of course, the point of practicing isn’t to make money. Therefore, I still recommend live dealer casinos when you’re learning the counting fundamentals.

But you can’t get deep into a shoe like at many land-based casinos. You’re ultimately just working on the process and keeping up with a real dealer.

The lack of casino distractions is another drawback to practicing through live blackjack. I mentioned before that this aspect can also play into your favor.

You don’t want other gamblers making comments and cocktail waitresses asking for your drink order when trying to learn. At some point, though, you must deal with these distractions while maintaining an accurate count.

Again, live casinos are perfect for working on the counting fundamentals. But you should eventually graduate towards practicing at a brick-and-mortar casino.

Can You Win Money by Counting Cards at Live Casinos?

Deck penetration is one of the most-overlooked aspects to card counting. Those who are new to advantage play often think that they should increase their bet as soon as the count goes positive.

In reality, you want a game that allows around 75% deck penetration or better. Assuming just 25% of the shoe remains, then your count will be much closer to reality and often result in bigger profits.

Unfortunately, live dealer casinos don’t provide anywhere near the kind of deck penetration that you need to win money. They typically place the cut card around 25% to 40% through the shoe.

Land-based casinos don’t normally shuffle so early, because they want to avoid slowing down games. They’d rather give counters a chance than sacrifice dealing more hands and making extra money off amateurs.

But brick-and-mortar casinos also employ pit bosses to watch for advantage gamblers. Pit bosses are quite good at rooting out card counters.

Live dealer casinos don’t have this same luxury. Given that they can’t watch card counters, they shuffle shoes quicker to prevent deck penetration.


Unless you illegally stream action at a land-based casino, you can’t practice card counting at home. But live dealer blackjack gives you a way to hone your skills without leaving the house.

You can simply fire up a live casino and start practicing your counting abilities. These casinos simulate a land-based blackjack environment by using real dealers, cards, and tables.

I highly recommend that you practice at a regular brick-and-mortar casino before actually spreading your bets. However, live casinos are a great medium between using basic methods like trainers and actually counting at a land-based establishment.

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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