Counting cards is widely acknowledged as one of the only few ways to beat the house and rake in profits when playing blackjack in casinos. Hailed by many blackjack players as a true-and-tried tactic, card counting is highly debated on the web and highlighted in more than 250 blackjack books currently on sale on Amazon. The big question is – why are hundreds of casinos in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and tribal nations still in business? Can you still count cards in modern casinos?
To answer the question: yes, you can still count cards in modern casinos. Card counting can still give you an advantage of 0.05% to 1% over the casino. However, the problem is that casinos have become smarter and more equipped with cutting-edge technologies designed to discourage card counting.
For instance, the vast majority now use bigger shoes at the blackjack tables – that means they use more decks so that card counters can’t keep and follow count.
At the same time, some modern brick-and-mortar casinos shuffle their decks more frequently, making it harder for card counters to keep the count. Even if you manage to count cards successfully, you can get tossed out or banned from the casino if caught. That’s despite the fact that it is not a criminal offense under any state or federal laws.
It generally takes about six months to a year to learn to count cards, but it may take even longer to become an expert or professional card counter. The time it takes to master card counting may also vary based on useful factors like game rules, the number of active decks of cards, where you play blackjack, and the system you are using.
Every blackjack card counting system takes practice, time, and dedication to learn and master, but some are more sophisticated and complicated than others. The simplest card counting system is often considered to be Hi-Lo, and it is easy for most players to learn it. If you already know the basics of blackjack, you can learn the Hi-Lo system within weeks.
On the other hand, Wong Halves is the most complicated card-counting system to learn and memorize because of its complex setup. It might take you more than a year to learn this card counting system while mastering the Wong Halves version will take years. Average and widely used systems like Hi-Opt I and Hi-Opt II take around 6-9 months to learn and long to master.
Can you still count cards in 2023?
Yes, counting cards in 2023 and beyond is still possible. Although casinos have introduced a series of measures to discourage card counters over the years, card counting still thrives and works today.
The casinos have changed the game rules, introduced multiple decks, and now use electronic shuffling machines.
While some of these measures have been effective, you can still count cards in land-based and live-dealer casinos. Why is that so? The number of unskilled blackjack players now outnumbers professional card counters. Casinos no longer mind card counters because they can still make decent profits from casual and non-skilled players.
Do you have to be smart to count cards?
Popular blackjack films and TV shows have created certain hype around card counting. They have made it to look like real card counters must be geniuses and math prodigies. That they must be able to magic up complex math systems to figure which cards may be dealt out of the deck and when. Think of mathematical formulas so complex and nerdy that they require a team of MIT or Harvard geniuses to develop to tip the odds of blackjack in favor of the player.
The truth, however, is that card counting is a fairly straightforward blackjack strategy. That’s not say that everyone can become a good counter. You will need to be reasonably intelligent and pack a decent memory in your head to follow and keep an accurate count of cards in the shoe. Be that as it may, you don’t need to be a bad ass genius to crack the secret of card counting.
So, to answer the question: no, you don’t have to be smart to count cards. It doesn’t take an Einstein or IQ of over 160 to learn and successfully use card counting to beat the system. Since the process of counting cards is taxing on the brain, it’s advantageous to have a solid memory and excellent analytical skills.
That said, counting cards is really easy and you don’t have to be super-smart to do …
- Know the values of cards in card counting – Each blackjack card has a value when counting cards. Low-value cards 2-6 have a +1 count, cards 7-9 have a zero count, and cards 10-Ace have a -1 count.
- The count –In card counting, the count begins at zero (0). Add the value of each card dealt to the count as the game progresses. For instance, an Ace takes the count to -1, while a 5 adds +1. Don’t count the dealer’s down card until it is revealed.
- Keep the running count – In a balanced card counting system like Hi-Lo, you must keep the running count as the cards are dealt out of the shoe. Note that the minus-plus count doesn’t reset at the end of the hand, so you must keep going with the running count.
- Bet as per the knowledge of the count – If the count is higher, you should place large bets to take advantage of your edge.
- Count cards discreetly – It goes without saying that casinos don’t like card counters. Almost all expert card counters get banned sooner or later if caught.
Can casinos legally ban you for counting cards?
Like all casinos, those in Vegas are private properties. The operators have the freedom to run their casinos as they see fit within strict guidelines set by federal and state law. That means Vegas casinos can request you to leave their premises for whatever reason, including untoward behavior and cheating.
If casino personnel ask you to leave, you have to heed to what they say or get in legal trouble. The casino operators can also ban you from returning to the premise again in the future if you don’t obey their leave orders.
So, to answer the question: yes, a casino can legally ban you for counting cards.
Is it still possible to count cards in Las Vegas?
Vegas casinos (well, pretty much any casino, to be honest) don’t want to lose their edge, and that is exactly what counting cards can do. It can help players turn blackjack tables on them. That’s why most people looking to visit Las Vegas wonder if it is still possible to count cards in Sin City. After all, they want to experience the beauty of making a fortune in Vegas like Micky Rosa the character played by the embattled Kevin Spacey in the movie 21.
Although the casinos like to treat card counting like a terrible offence, it is technically not illegal in most parts of the world. There is certainly no state or federal law that regard card counting as a criminal offense. It’s not prohibited by any law at state, local, or federal level. But since casinos are private entities, they have the freedom in setting their own rules. In layman terms, that means card counting can still get you in trouble in Vegas. How so?
How Card Counting Can Land You in Legal Trouble in Vegas
While police cannot detain you for card counting in Vegas casinos, you can still face other criminal charges associated with counting cards …
● Counting cards with an electronic device – There are no laws that criminalize using intellectual advantage (one of which is card counting) in Vegas casinos. However, if your card counting method uses electrical or mechanical equipment, you have stepped into the cheating zone and can be detained by law enforcement.
● Trespassing – Every Vegas casino has incredibly tight security because players who cheat at games or count cards cost the casino profits. If you’re caught card counting by the security personnel, you could be requested to leave the casino or step away from the blackjack table. Since casinos in Las Vegas are classed as private properties, the casino staff could have you arrested for trespassing if you refuse to leave.
● Cheating – If you physically manipulate blackjack, it is cheating and the casino will call the police to arrest you. For instance, exchanging cards with fellow players or altering the shoe is regarded as cheating in Vegas.
● Disorderly conduct – If you make a scene or refuse to leave the casino when asked, staff have the right to detain or call the police. You will be arrested and charged with a disorderly conduct offense. The best thing to do is heed to their request and leave the casino.
● Assaulting casino staff – It goes without saying that physical assault is a criminal offense under the federal and Nevada state law. You can be detained and arrested for physically harassing or assaulting casino staff. Even light shoving or pushing could land you in legal trouble.
Are you not allowed to count cards?
Yes, you are allowed to count cards. Card counting is perfectly legal and allowed, according to federal, state, and local laws in the United States and across the globe. It is not allowed, however, if you receive help counting cards from another player or a device. And, since casinos are private entities, they reserve the right to throw out and ban well-known card counters to protect their financial interests.
Card counting is a method that calls for perfection to work. Learning and training to become an effective card counter take equally hard work. You will need to take anywhere from 100 to 200 hours of hard practice to acquire the necessary card counting skills for beating the house.
That means it takes 6-12 months for an average person to learn to count cards. It takes even longer to count cards at a pro or expert level. The exact timing to master and perfect the craft of counting cards depends on your betting system, current blackjack skills, and shoe size.