Does blackjack card counting really work?March 4, 2018
This is Part 2 of the presentation: Does Blackjack card counting really work? In Part 1, I explained how card counting works, and I showed how the card counters advantage is quite small. In this part I explain why card counting is risky and I make some recommendations How risky is card counting? As I showed in Part 1, when you have an advantage, it is typically in the neighborhood of 1/2 of 1% In this situation you need to risk $100 on a hand to win 50 cents.
On each $100 hand you’ll never earn exactly 50 cents. You will either win $100, or maybe $200 if you double down or split, Lose $100 or maybe $200, Or tie, which is called a “push” in the casino. Winning one or two hundred dollars or pushing is not a problem. But can you afford to lose one or two hundred dollars trying to earn 50 cents?
And can you afford a 10-bet losing streak, $1,000? Streaks like this definitely happen you will also have big winning streaks, but you can’t count on them happening at any particular time. One big losing streak can easily be followed by another.
In movies like “Rain Man” and “21,” card counters win like crazy, which is nothing like real life. Real card counters have a tiny advantage. They win, they lose, they break even, just like everyone else. Their tiny gains over weeks or months are obscured by relatively large winning and losing streaks. To win $5 or $10 per hour in the long run, You need to make bets of $100 and more, and experience winning and losing streaks in the thousands.
If losing one or two thousand would upset you or cause financial hardship, then card counting is not for you. On the other hand, if you can afford to risk that much, you might not be much interested in earning what amounts to the minimum wage. If you want to do card counting, it should be for the entertainment value. It’s not a good way to make money. Do casinos let card counters win?
Card counting is legal, but casinos can turn away or expel anyone for any reason. They closely watch players who vary their bets by large amounts or jump in and out of games. So card counters must disguise their play to avoid getting kicked out. Dealers always shuffle well before the cards are used up, destroying the most favorable situations.
And finally, casinos can Impose unfavorable rules like a 6-to-5 payoff for blackjacks instead of the usual 3-to-2 which ruins the odds for everyone, not just card counters. You can see in the graph that everyone plays deep in the negative zone practically all the time, losing 2% on average. How difficult is card counting?
It does not require unusual talent or intelligence. Anyone can do it However, it takes many months of memorizing and practice to become proficient. There are three basic learning steps. The first step is to learn the basic strategy without card counting. This means memorizing the best action to take for each combination of player total and dealer’s up card. You need to know this well enough to act even without thinking about it.
The next step is to learn how to count cards. Keep track of the count and modify your betting based on the count. With the addition of this skill, you can play with an advantage. To gain the maximum advantage, you can learn how to modify the basic strategy decisions in a few marginal situations based on the count. Here are some recommendations.
First of all, don’t gamble if you’re prone to compulsive behavior. Some people get addicted, which is a serious problem. Don’t play 6-to-5 blackjack games. Risk only what you can afford to lose and gamble only for as long as you enjoy it whether you’re winning or losing. Stop when you have negative feelings like anger, fear, or despair. Be prepared for losing streaks, which will definitely happen, card counting or not.
And finally, learn a basic strategy first and practice it for real in the casino before you try card counting. There are different basic strategies that you can learn. Most websites and books teach the perfect basic strategy, which is really good.
But it takes about a month of studying practice to become proficient. Why not learn a simplified strategy instead, which is faster and easier, and nearly as good. The chart shows you the details. Find out more at blackjackcalculation.com, a free website with no annoying ads, just the information you need. Good luck!