Tag Archives | Real World

Counting cards in blackjack

Travel back in time a few decades and you will find the source of many modern myths. The most interesting swirl around the group of professional gamblers who devised the so-called basic strategy and those people, blessed with a good memory, that can beat the House by counting cards. Today’s wisdom says that putting the two together gives you the best chance of beating the house edge. There is some truth to this for those of you who go to real-world casinos. Indeed, many casinos actually sell small cards with the basic strategy printed in neat tables and charts. The original math wonks who crunched the numbers used to guard their knowledge and sell it only at high price. Today, the casinos effectively give it away. Why are the casinos so confident you will not break the bank?

For those of you who are serious about learning the game, sitting in front of a live dealer with the strategy cards as your reference point is a daunting prospect. You are surrounded by one-hundred-and-one distractions. You have an audience who immediately see you as a newbie and will enjoy watching you make the wrong decisions. Worse, you will play with the speed of a constipated snail. On tables with several players, there is an expected rhythm to the play. No-one wants to sit idly around while you run your finger up and down the rows and columns to decide which strategy to play given the combination of cards on display. The only place where you can “safely” learn the basic strategy is online. The animated dealer will sit patiently for minutes while you think.

Thanks to the success of the movie “21”, the exploits of the MIT team are well-known. They won millions during the 1990’s by counting the cards. Before you all rush off and start training your own team, you have to recognize the difficulty of the task. Every person has to be able to count and keep it up for hours at a time. You have to develop a system of signalling to other members of the team without the security staff noticing. Although card counting is not illegal, casinos ask counters to leave and blacklist them by sending photographs to all the other casinos. Being barred from one casino is being barred from all major casinos. This is not something you can put together in a few days. It will require months of training and planning. Even then, you are only shading the odds in your favor. You will need a bankroll. Unfortunately, this is one time the online casinos will not help you. The online backjack program uses a random number generator to determine the next card. Unlike the real-world stack of six decks where the order of the cards is fixed until the stack is emptied or changed, you cannot use counting to predict the probability of high/low cards when you play online blackjack. So all your practice will have to be in real time. Do you have that much dedication? Most do not and the majority of card counters play blackjack on their own. More importantly, they keep a very low profile to avoid detection by casino staff. That way, they can maintain a gentle accumulation of profit on their bankroll. It can be done. It just takes time, patience and skill.

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Tips for playing online

When you look at the welcome bonus and all the other benefits from joining an online casino, playing online has real advantages over the real world alternatives. Because the virtual operation does not need a major building and significant number of people to run the games, all that saving can go into financial benefits for members. If you play regularly enough and qualify for VIP membership, you can find the casino more financially generous than through the real world comps. Nevertheless, you still need to play smart to give yourself the best chance of winning more than you lose.

How can you improve your chances of winning? Well, the bad news is you have to study. Even though every spin of the wheel is an independent event and what has happened has no bearing on what will happen, you still have to know all the rules and what the odds are on each bet. This is a game of chance, but which game you decide to play and how you bet can affect the outcome.

As you know from the information contained on other parts of this site, there are two versions of the game. The difference between the two lies in the number of zeros, i.e. if the ball lands on a zero, the house takes some or all of the bets depending on the local rules. In the European version, there is only one zero. This makes the house edge 2.63%. In the American version, there are two zeros. The house edge doubles to 5.26%. Thus, if you have the choice, always play the European version because this gives the house the lowest advantage. Always check the local rules. If the house plays the en prison rule, all even money bets stay on the table for the next spin of the wheel if a zero comes up. This has the effect of further reducing the European house edge to 1.35%, i.e. this version of the game gives you the best chance of winning. Now learn how to calculate the odds and always play the bets giving you the best chance of winning and avoid the bets with the worst odds. The following is a simple guide:

  • single number bets including zero and double zero 35:1
  • two neighboring numbers 17:1
  • any three numbers in a row 11:1
  • any of the four touching numbers in a corner 8:1
  • five numbers, e.g. 1,2,3,0,00 6:1
  • any six numbers in two rows 5:1
  • any twelve numbers in a column 2:1
  • dozens 2:1
  • red/black, odd/even 1:1

Now the choice is yours. If you are playing roulette for “profit”, set yourself a limit on the amount your are prepared to lose. Then play the bets with the bigger returns. If your luck is in and you hit one or two times, take your winnings. You can enjoy the rest of the evening at the casino’s expense. The worst mistake anyone can make is to be seduced by the idea of a hot streak. The reality is clear. If you keep on playing roulette, you will lose all your winnings.

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