We’ve all seen the movie 21, right? The film tells the story of the MIT students who broke Las Vegas and thus inspired whole generations of modern gamblers. Their tricks with card counting proved to be quite lucrative as they took millions – but not everyone is as lucky as they were.
Although this story is true, players who subsequently tried their hand in counting cards weren’t as successful. Nevertheless, the debate is still on – is card counting an efficient technique for winning?
But more importantly, is card counting even legal?
How Does Card Counting Work?
The term ‘card counting’ is self-explanatory. Players count cards during rounds to try and predict the upcoming outcomes. Based on their predictions, they pull certain moves – which may or may not result in wins. Of course, they hope for a success, but that depends on several factors.
For card counting to be effective, the players need a game with good rules. Take Blackjack, for instance. If Blackjack pays 6:5, or there is no doubling down after splits, the rules are already too harsh of a task for the players to beat. Card counting would not help that much in this instance. Other Blackjack strategies might help, though.
Moreover, punters depend on shuffling a lot. If the dealer shuffles the cards too many times during one session (after half the shoe, or similar), the players would not be able to predict anything. After a card shuffle, the remaining cards get mixed up with old ones, thus ruining the chances for a valid prediction using counting.
In land-based casinos, all these factors are neatly covered, and card counters can enjoy their fun and earn money. In online casino games, the situation is different – much to the players’ dismay.
Is Card Counting Legal?
Technically, card counting is legal, although casinos would never say that. It serves them no point, as they would openly allow players to ‘steal’ money from them. From a legal standpoint, they have the ownership over the cards and the venue, so their rules are the only ones that apply.
Granted, card counting is more than just ‘stealing’ money from the casino and cheating. Players have to employ logic and skill – card counting takes effort to master – to predict upcoming rounds and outcomes. They don’t really cheat as they do not see those cards in advance. They just guess them by applying some math.
Nevertheless, the casinos are quite against this method, and we don’t blame them. Las Vegas casinos learned a hard lesson back in the ‘80s with card counters, and there are still players that attempt to count here and there.
But, here is the real deal. Card counting is legal, but the casinos have done everything in their power to prevent it. Strict rules, increased monitoring of the tables, as well as frequent shuffles, have made it impossible for the players to perform card counting.
This is especially present in the online sector. Online casino games are virtually impossible to penetrate thanks to RNG (Random Number Generator). In theory, there is still a possibility to count cards, but that would take a lot of time, effort, and especially money to succeed. So, there is no point in trying at all.
But with the emergence of live dealer games, players have seen a potentially viable source of entertainment (and profit) in counting cards at live dealer tables. Let’s see if it’s actually worth trying.
Card Counting in Live Casinos
Live dealer games include, as you know, a live stream of a table with real croupiers in real-time. Players who join the table can watch the action from their home, but the table will look just like any regular table in land-based casinos.
Over the years, a debate about card counting in live casinos started because players are convinced they could cheat the system and predict outcomes. Some were successful, others not – so it is still up in the air.
The reason why many players haven’t been successful in generating wins is that live casino tables have CSM. CSM stands for Continuous Shuffle Machines that render card counting a useless technique.
If there is no CSM, the dealer is the one who shuffles the decks – but this happens quite regularly, making the counter’s job even more difficult.
So, it would seem card counting methods in live casino games might not be quite a lucrative activity as there are many items to consider. If you do decide to try your luck, be sure to find a table with lax rules and rare shuffles. This might increase your chances of winning and even help you win something – at least a little bit.