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Card counting to win big at blackjack is the stuff of legend, television and the movies. There are many tales of successful blackjack card counters making a mint. Could you be one of them? More importantly, should you even try to be one of them?

This short article examines whether card counting is all that it is cracked up to be. We provide quick no fluff answers to the following key questions:

  • Can you, in fact, make money with counting the cards at a blackjack table?
  • What happens if you get caught?
  • What should you do instead?

Can You Win by Card Counting? 

Yes, you’ve guessed it, whilst many amateur player may rave about the possibilities of card counting, we aren’t convinced. And we aren’t alone. Check out the many reputable books on blackjack, or sites by well known online odds-pundits like the Wizard of Odds, and you’ll find card counting is a strict no-no! Why is that?

It is certainly well known that blackjack is one of the casino games with better odds. In fact, with perfect basic strategy, and a bit of card counting thrown in, it may be possible to get returns of over 100% on your trips to the table. That makes it an attractive game to play, and goes a long way towards explaining the enduring popularity of blackjack. Nevertheless, for most players, the textbook possibilities don’t translate easily into rich pickings at the tables.

Yes, we’ve all seen the high tech gizmos on television favourites like Las Vegas, or read the stories of criminal gangs with mastermind operations, but the reality is that card counting is hard work. In particular, it requires excellent memory and concentration and is not guaranteed to work. In addition, beware that your bankroll can quickly go up and down, and it may take hundreds of hours of playing time to guarantee a small additional winning margin of around one percent. Hardly rich pickings for most.

…But What if You Get Caught? 

And what if you get caught? Any time a casino has suspicions that someone is card counting, they may well pick him or her up by the ear and dump them in unceremonious fashion quickly out on the street. Not great for the ego, and not great for the winnings either. Casinos don’t have those eyes in the sky for nothing. Their surveillance teams are highly trained and skilled in picking out the potential cheats on the casino floor. For the average newcomer to card counting, theiur nervousness is sure to be a quick gieveaway. For the experienced card counter, any pattern of winnings is sure to draw attention and lead to the casino checking their play carefully. Either way, you won’t find it easy, however photographic your memory is.

So could you get around that by playing online? The quick answer is no. Online casinos set up their games so that it is virtually impossible to card count at blackjack. How and why they do that is a takle for another day. Suffice to say, it isn’t worth your while trying to cheat on that one.

So, we now know that counting blackjack cards in the casino: can: 1) can get you banned, 2) is hard work and 3) isn’t the surefire winner that the media might have us believe. Just take it from us, also, that card counting just won’t work online. So, what to do instead?

What To Do Instead? Try Basic Blackjack Strategy! 

Really, if you want to improve your blackjack, there is just one option: Learn those basic strategy tables! All the best players have a really good grasp of basic strategy. If you havn’t yet, then that is where you should be spending your spare time if you want to make your blackjack table time more enjoyable and maximise your chances of winning. Now just what should I do when I get a pair of 2s and the dealer also gets a 2? Time for some more homework….

Dave Bailey is a staff writer for The Blackjack Guide

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