Counting cards is hailed by many as a way to ‘beat the system’ and yield a big profit while playing blackjack in casinos. A form of advantage playing, card counting is widely discussed on the internet and featured in over 250 different books offered by Amazon publishers. So why is it that hundreds of Nevada, Connecticut, and Oklahoma casinos are still in business? The answer is simple: Blackjack card counting is a waste of time.
Does this mean that card counting doesn’t work at all? No. In fact, it can give you a 0.05 to 1 percent advantage over the house. However, the fact that this percentage is so small paired with the four reasons below supports the fact that the time spent learning to count cards should be focused on more profitable strategies.
Card Counting is Tough to Learn
In blackjack, card counting is a mental method that a player uses to do two things:
- Keep track of how many ten-point cards have been played so far
- Compare the number of lower point cards that have been played to the number
Although this might seem simple enough, there are dozens of systems for counting cards. Being great at even one while under pressure can be more complicated than it looks. Not only do you have to count, but you also have to remember the count. Then, you have to actually apply it to the game. Many people learn to do so, but there is a trade-off.
For one, it takes many, many hours of practice. This was the case for Jack, a blackjack player with this to say about card counting:
“After a year of card counting in tons of Oklahoma casinos, I come to this consensus: trying to make a profit counting is nothing but a waste of time.” His reasoning?
Even if you play perfectly, there is a good chance you end up losing money in the long run because when you are down, one of three things will happen:
- The casino will place a slow dealer at your table
- They will mess with the penetration
- They will simply ask you to leave
The last two points will be discussed below, but it is essential to understand that even if you read everything out there on counting cards and become a ‘guru,’ there are always outside factors that can (and will) arise to stop your game.
The Deck Will Be Changed
Let’s say you reject the advice in this article and become a master card counter. Unfortunately, there is still a significant problem.
Casinos know all there is to know about card counting as well, and you can best believe the dealer or someone behind the ‘eye in the sky’ will pick up on what you’re doing. In the next point, we will talk about the repercussions of being found out. But even if you aren’t asked to cash in your chips and leave, the dealer has a simple way to beat even the quickest card counter; they will use a different deck.
One main reason why card counting is a waste of time is that as soon as a player gets a good read on how many cards have been played, the dealer will switch things up. All that time spent counting is now out the window. Many casinos know this, so even those that offer single-deck games make it to where they only offer 6:5 payoffs. Meaning, if you bet five dollars, you would only win six back.
Counting Cards Takes the Fun Out of Gambling
Unless you are a blackjack player with a big bankroll traveling from casino to casino, you probably won’t strike it rich by way of card counting. The reason people play blackjack and other casino games is because doing so can be exciting and fun! Card counting requires such concentration and focus that it feels more like a ‘job’ than gambling, and then there is still minimal payoff. It’s likely that the dealer in his or her uniform is making more than you are while getting paid to do the same thing (count cards.)
Although blackjack card counting might look exciting and glamorous in the movies, it can be very tiresome to those who regularly play in Oklahoma casinos. If you want to make money using skill, you might consider learning a game based on that such as poker instead of a chance-based one like blackjack.
Casinos Will Give You the Boot
Counting cards in Oklahoma casinos, a Nevada casino, or a casino in Timbuktu is not illegal, as long as you aren’t using technology. Read that again. Contrary to popular belief, it is not against the law to count cards while playing blackjack. This doesn’t mean that casino management won’t ask you to leave if they catch you. Here’s an example:
Imagine you’re at a movie theater and in the middle of the film, you pull out your cell phone and begin to talk on it. Is there any federal or state law that says you can’t use your phone during a movie? Absolutely not, but because it disrupts the service the theater owner is providing, they can, and will ask you to take a hike if you continue to chit chat while others are trying to enjoy the film. Counting cards in a casino is similar.
If you think that a casino has to have a reason to ask you not to play, think again. Unfortunately, an establishment can bar you for any reason they see fit. So, before taking part in card counting and other behaviors that some consider ‘cheating,’ consider the risks.
At the end of the day, even the best players are taking a huge gamble by focusing on mental strategies while playing a game of chance. The people who are beating casinos for real money aren’t counting cards. If your ultimate goal is to find an advantage, there are easier and more result-producing strategies with much lower stakes than blackjack card counting.