Cover Yourself: A Foolproof Guide to Card Counting Without Catching Heat
May 23, 2014
You think you know how to count cards and it’s time to take it into the casino. Yet if you think you’ve mastered the art, you’d be sorely wrong.
Card counting isn’t just about memorizing sequences; it’s also about noticing patterns. Not just patterns in the cards, either, but patterns in the play of other players, patterns in the behaviour of the dealer, and most importantly, patterns in your own play.
Yet what’s the worst that could happen should your card counting system doesn’t quite hit the right notes? Surely you’ll just not win any cash? Well, no. Get it wrong and you could be thrown out of the casino. Get it really wrong and you could be barred. Get it really wrong more than once and you could find yourself blacklisted from every casino in the city.
So, paying attention to all these patterns is probably the most important thing in card counting. That’s right: forget the numbers, the systems and that blackjack strategy book you bought at the flea market, it’s all about your powers of observation.
Don’t be Conspicuous
You may have noticed there are a few distinct types of gambler. In fact, we talked about the 7 common types of blackjack players before. The thing is, it’s not only us that know about this: the casino does too.
Sure, it’s not a great idea to stereotype anyone, but there are distinct patterns to people’s play, their casino table manners, their drinking habits and much more. What’s more, they really do tend to fall into one of these categories.
So it’s in your interest to appear as any one of those stereotypes. Depending on where you are, you can even be ridiculously over the top in your portrayal. If you’re visiting Las Vegas, for instance, loud Hawaiian shirts, a name tag and a money clip can all contribute to that air of the US tourist. The casino will love you and will probably take longer to notice that you’re actually taking money off them.
They will eventually notice, however, so that is what you’ve got to look out for. As we already mentioned, paying attention to patterns in everything is vitally important. Forget that and you can forget your winnings.
Keep your bets relatively consistent
Now, if you’ve been reading all about card counting – and practicing on your own or with online programs – you’ll know that it’s the changing of your bet that actually makes you any money. If you just stick to the same amount every time, then you won’t actually win anything, so you need to change things up.
So why are we saying to be consistent?
Well, put simply, these blackjack tricks aren’t for experienced players. The first time you step into the casino as a card counter, you’re not going to be able to pay attention to every tiny little detail, no matter how important it is to do so.
Instead, you can remove some of the potential heat by playing a bit more conservatively. Sure, by only betting $100 instead of $250, you’re not going to win so much, but it has the benefit of keeping the pit bosses eyes elsewhere.
Why should you limit the amount you can win, though? Well, like with anything, you need practice to become perfect. So why not put in the hours at lower risk. Your pay days may be smaller, but it’ll make it all worthwhile in the long run.
Don’t let this effect how you’re blending in, though. If you pay too much attention to how much you’re betting, you could be caught out playing an act, especially if you’re meant to be a tourist there just to have fun. Instead turn it into a game.
You’d be amazed how much fun can be had playing with this, all the while trying to pay attention to every tiny detail.
Use side bets to your advantage
It’s amazing just how useful side bets can actually be at the blackjack table. No pit boss is going to pay any undue attention to someone splashing out on the 21+3 bet regularly, especially considering the odds. If you win too much, though…
So use it as a way of distracting heat. Occasionally drop a chip or two on it when you have next to no chance of winning.
Don’t be too conspicuous, though: remember, the dealer is aware of everything that goes on, so if you only drop on 21+3 when the pit boss is around, he or she will be mightily suspicious. As we said: you need to pay attention to a lot of different patterns of behavior and the dealer is high up on that list.
Of course, there is far more to winning at the blackjack table: from being precise in your counting to simple luck. Yet you want to not only maximize your chances of winning now, but in the future too. So being barred from the casino is the worst possible outcome.
There are also a number of other little tips and tricks to bear in mind: the hour of the day you should play at, which table to choose, which dealer to “pick on”, and much more. Just remember that one rule, though: every detail can be used to your advantage, so pay attention to every pattern you can see.