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The virtue of blackjack is that it’s the only game in the house where the odds change as the cards are dealt. All the other games in the house with the exception of poker are fixed in the house’s advantage. The real secret to winning at blackjack is that small cards favor the house while big cards favor the player. If you know that a number of small cards have already been dealt, what does that leave remaining to be dealt? Big cards. This is when the odds to shift form house edge to player’s edge. That’s also when you need to increase your wager. Conversely, if a lot of big cards come out early in the game, the odds favor the house and you would be advised to cut your bets back to the table minimum or go to another table. Of course the only way to determine this is via card counting.
The people who own and manage the casinos would have you believe that counting cards is harder than nuclear physics, It’s not. I could teach a cocker spaniel how to count cards. The other thing the house wants you to believe is that card counting is illegal. Again this is an untruth. I have yet to walk into a casino to find a sign on the wall advising players to check their brain at the door.”
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How Hard is it to Count Cards?
All it takes to count cards is to assign values to the cards other than face value. There are many card counting systems on the market. Some assign values to tens and non-tems, some assign positive values to small cards, negative values to 9, 10, A. Yet others assign a variety of values to many cards (these are called multi-parameter counting systems. While some will tout their system as having a higher mathematical advantage than others, none of this matters if you can't keep the count, play perfect basic strategy and determine your next wager while 100 slot machines are going off right next to you.
Also, it can be difficult to keep up with the dealer during the comeout when everyone at the table gets their first 2 cards. Some dealers are so fast that if you were to try to add one and subtract two for every card that was dealt during the comeout that you would have to have a mind like a calculator. Or worse, your lips would move, blowing your cover. So let me show you a shortcut that effectively slows the dealer down. (View the video below.)
What I discovered during the past 20 years is that the more difficult the counting system, the less money I made. That's because the real enemy of every card counter is not the pit boss. It is mistakes. Make just 3 counting errors in an hour and you are playing at even odds with the house. If you can't play for an hour with 99% accuracy, then you can kiss your profits goodbye. Even worse, if your card counting system of choice comes with a number of count-based strategy deviations, true count count conversions and ace side count requirements, then your ability to play with accuracy is going to go right out the window.
I've been there and done that and can tell you with authority that it doesn't have to be that dificult. Remember, the only thing that card counting can do is tell you that there are extra big cards waiting to be dealt. What no card counting system can do is tell you where, when or if they are going to come out. They also can't tell you when they do come out if they are going to fall your way or to the dealer. That's why you need to have a strong money management system that will let you test the wate to determine when to put the pedal to the metal. If not, you can quickly burn through your bankroll.
Look Before You Leap
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Last but not least, you need to be able to camouflage your card counting ability from the pit boss. This is something that is not covered very well in most card counting books, but it is one of the most important things we teach all our students. The movies would have you believe that card counting is illegal and that if your cover is blown you will be hauled into the back room. Complete and utter hogwash. What will happen should you be discovered n is that you will find yourself sandwiched between two burly security guards as you are read the Flagrant Trespass Act. Then you will be escorted to the cashier cage where you will be allowed to cash out. Your photograph will also be taken and in all likelihood it will be shared with every casino in town. Then you will be escorted off the premises. The only time you will be detained is if you should try to enter a casino in which you have been barred. Then you will be charged with trespassing and possibly incarcerated.
In more than 20 years of professional play I have never been barred, nor have any of my graduates. Just as card counting is an acquired skill, so is the ability to hide in plain sight. Provided that you don't get greedy, a skilled card counter can milk the casino cash cow for years on end. What the casinos don't want you to know is that the playing public can do to them what they do to everyone else, which is capitalize on a mathematical advantage. They also don't want you to know that the game of blackjack has been vulnerable to attack by skilled players since 1963.
That being said, you also need to know that if you really want to learn how to beat the casinos at their own game you have 2 choices: Take 20 years to learn the ropes, or learn from somebody who has 20 years of professional playing experience. If you want to learn more about what it takes to play a game that favors the player, fill out the form below and I will send you my "Winner in Training" eBook that details how I went from working for the casinos to playing lackjack full time in 2 short years. The only thing you have to lose is the house edge.
Carl Van Eton is a professional blackjack player with more than 20 years of professional playing experience. If you want to play better blackjack, check out his Big Game Blackjack website.