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American mathematician Edward O. Thorp is considered the father of card counting. Although mathematically sound, some of the techniques described no longer apply, as casinos took counter-measures such as no longer dealing to the last card.
Also, the counting system described count is harder to use and less profitable than the point-count systems that have been developed since.
Even before the publication of Beat the Dealer , however, a small number of professional card counters were beating blackjack games in Las Vegas and casinos elsewhere.
One of these early card counters was Jess Marcum, who is described in documents and interviews with professional gamblers of the time as having developed the first full-fledged point-count system.
Another documented pre-Thorp card counter was a professional gambler named Joe Bernstein, who is described in the book I Want To Quit Winners , by Reno casino owner Harold Smith, as an Ace counter feared throughout the casinos of Nevada.
And in the book Playing Blackjack to Win , Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel, and James McDermott known among card counters as "The Four Horsemen" published the first accurate blackjack basic strategy and a rudimentary card-counting system, devised solely with the aid of crude mechanical calculators —what used to be called "adding machines.
From the early days of card-counting, some players have been hugely successful, including Al Francesco, the inventor of blackjack team play and the man who taught Ken Uston how to count cards, and Tommy Hyland , manager of the longest-running blackjack team in history.
Ken Uston, though perhaps the most famous card-counter through his 60 Minutes television appearance and his books, tended to overstate his winnings, as documented by players who worked with him, including Al Francesco and team member Darryl Purpose.
In the s and s, as computing power grew, more advanced and more difficult card-counting systems came into favor. Many card counters agree, however, that a simpler and less advantageous system that can be played flawlessly for hours earns an overall higher return than a more complex system prone to user error.
In the s Ken Uston was the first to write about a tactic of card counting he called the Big Player Team.
The book was based on his experiences working as a "big player" BP on Al Francesco's teams. In big-player blackjack teams a number of card counters, called "spotters," are dispatched to tables around a casino, where their responsibility is to keep track of the count and signal to the big player when the count indicates a player advantage.
The big player then joins the game at that table, placing maximum bets at a player advantage. When the spotter indicates that the count has dropped, they again signal the BP to leave the table.
By jumping from table to table as called in by spotters, the BP avoids all play at a disadvantage. In addition, since the BP's play appears random and irrational, they avoid detection by the casinos.
The spotters, who are doing the actual counting, are not themselves changing their bet size or strategy, so they are relatively inconspicuous.
With this style of play, a number of blackjack teams have cleared millions of dollars through the years. The publication of Ken Uston's books and of his landmark lawsuits against the casinos, both stimulated the growth of blackjack teams Hyland's team and the first MIT team were formed in Atlantic City shortly after the publication of Million Dollar Blackjack and increased casino awareness of the methods of blackjack teams, making it more difficult for such teams to operate.
Hyland and Francesco soon switched to a form of shuffle tracking called "Ace sequencing. This made it more difficult for casinos to detect when team members were playing with an advantage.
In , members of the Hyland team were arrested for Ace sequencing and blackjack team play at Casino Windsor in Windsor, Ontario , Canada.
It was documented in court that Nevada casinos with ownership stakes in the Windsor casino were instrumental in the decision to prosecute team members on cheating charges.
However, the judge ruled that the players' conduct was not cheating, but merely the use of intelligent strategy. Automatic shuffling machines ASMs or batch shufflers , that randomly shuffle decks, interfere with the shuffle tracking variation of card counting by hiding the shuffle.
Continuous shuffling machines CSMs , that partially shuffle used cards back into the "shoe" after every hand, interfere with card counting.
CSMs result in very shallow penetration number of seen cards greatly reducing the effectiveness of card counting.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The examples and perspective in this section deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
You may improve this section , discuss the issue on the talk page , or create a new section, as appropriate. So that's it? I can beat casinos now? Get the full scoop, start our Mini-Course access it below.
Why Does Card Counting Work? What's the History of Card Counting? Should I Become a Card Counter? As a rule, your Big Player should be able to bet 8 times or more the size of the each Spotters' bet.
Choose a Back-Spotter to watch the tables from afar. Back-Spotters are particularly helpful in crowded casinos where there is little table room. Select the least talented poker player as the Gorilla.
The Gorilla should be the person that doesn't have the skill or desire to count. As the Gorilla, you move between tables and bet the maximum wager when the tables are hot.
If you have a boisterous friend that likes to throw their money around, they're a great choice for the Gorilla. Choose the most skilled player for the Big Player.
As the Big Player, your job is to play with the same wagers as the Gorilla but in a more skillful way that takes attention off the team.
When Spotters or Back-Spotters find a hot table, they will signal you to come and play. But if you're only at a slight advantage, spread your bets and increase them as your advantage the true count rises.
Remember that the Big Player should be able to bet 8 times or more the bet of each Spotter you have playing.
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Yes No. Not Helpful 1 Helpful 4. Yes, in the long run, a good card counter does expect to come out ahead of the casino.
These systems vary from very simple Ace-Five and Hi-Lo to devilishly complex Wong Halves , but most of them share some common elements.
For instance, different cards are given values that the player must keep track of during the course of a given shoe. In many systems, this number is then divided by the approximate number of remaining decks to get a true count, which tells the player how rich the remaining shoe is in good cards.
In most counting systems, the player will use this true count to decide how much to bet on a given hand, and whether or not to take insurance if the dealer is showing an ace.
Occasionally, the count will also tell players when to abandon basic strategy and play a hand differently, based on the fact that the remaining composition of the deck has changed the odds in favor of an alternative play.
Some card counting systems also ask players to keep a separate side count of aces. This is because aces have a very different effect on the game than other cards.
Thus, more complex systems will keep an ace count independent of an overall count, in order to make this distinction. This brings us to an important point: there is a tradeoff to make when choosing a card counting system.
Method 1 of Learn basic strategy. First things first, you can't really be an effective card counter if you don't know the ins and outs of basic blackjack strategy.
Sure, you could count the cards, but it wouldn't result in you winning anything. Try to walk before you run. It's in your favor to practice in casinos, if you plan on counting cards at casinos.
Unlike at your kitchen table, there are a ton of other factors going on that must be considered -- like hiding the fact that you're hustling everyone.
When you play blackjack with a well-practiced strategy, you get the house's advantage to relatively 0. All casino games are in favor of the house, so this 0 is pretty good!
Get so good at blackjack it's like breathing. You should be a machine when it comes to this game, spitting out the best thing to do in split seconds.
You shouldn't need a book open, you shouldn't need a second to think, and you should be able to do it with one eye closed and both arms tied behind your back.
Knowing this game like the back of your hand is the only way you'll make money. Counting cards gives you a one percent edge.
Familiarize yourself with the concept of counting cards. General strategy for card counting uses the Hi-Lo strategy. When added up, they total the running count.
That's it. The simpler you can keep it, the less your brain will want to explode -- so think of this simplicity as a good thing. Understand why card counting works.
It works because high cards tens improve a player's chances of hitting a blackjack, which pays out at They also increase the dealer's chances of going "bust.
Method 2 of Understand how it works. They keep a number in their heads that tells them when to bet and how much to bet -- or not to bet at all!
A deck with a positive number is good. The higher the number, the more you want to bet. The higher the number, the more high cards are left to be played.
Learn the values. To track the ratio of high cards to low cards thus knowing whether the deck is in your favor or not , you'll need to assign the cards a value.
Start at 0 and as each card comes up, add it to your tally. Cards have no value. Cards worth 10 have a value of Aces also have a value of Learn how to bet accordingly.
Generally speaking, you want to increase your bet by a unit of 1 for each point that the tally goes up.
If you do it any more drastically than that, those eyes in the skies will be on you like a hawk. Test yourself.
Grab a complete deck sans the jokers and rifle through it, keeping track. You should end up at a very round 0 if you've counted the cards accurately.
The remaining cards — sevens, eights, and nines — are essentially neutral. After the dealer shuffles the cards, there is an equal number of high and low cards in the deck s.
Depending on which cards are dealt in the early rounds, the ratio of high to low cards in the remaining undealt cards most likely will change.
For example, if more low than high cards were played in the early rounds, then the remaining undealt cards must have a greater concentration of high versus low cards.
When the latter occurs, card counters will bet more because they have a better chance of getting a blackjack with a bonus 3-to-2 payout and winning a double down.
In addition, if dealers show a low card, they will break more frequently when hitting their hand. If instead the undealt cards contain a higher concentration of low cards, this benefits dealers; by casino rules, dealers must hit their 12 through 16 hands, and the excess concentration of low cards will increase their chances of getting a pat 17 through 21 hand while decreasing their chances of busting.Card counting is a technique that lets blackjack players know when the advantage shifts in their favor. When this occurs, card counters will increase their bets. When the advantage shifts in favor of the dealer, the counter will make a smaller bet or no bet at all by not playing.