How to Become an Expert at Card Counting: Learn the Art of Disguise
Oct 5, 2014
Winning at blackjack consistently requires developing a lot of skills in addition to card counting. You also need to learn how to disguise the fact that you’re counting.
Learning how to count cards well enough to consistently win at the casino is a serious endeavor that requires months of tireless practice. First you need to nail down basic strategy. Then you need to learn the mechanics of counting, how to maintain a running count in a distracting casino environment, then convert that running count into a true count.
But that’s only the first half of learning how to use a card counting system. The second half involves peripheral skills like using a betting spread and disguising the fact that you are counting. This article is concerned with the latter skill, how to count cards while maintaining the appearance of an everyday casino sucker.
Following these simple recommendations will take practice, but if you perform them well enough your chances of being given the “back-off” from a pit boss will get a lot smaller.
Don’t use an outrageous betting spread
The previous article in the series taught readers the proper technique for using a betting spread, which is the difference in betting size from your minimum wager to your maximum wager. While any aspiring card counter knows that they should put more money on the table when the count is high, few know when to stop.
Skyrocketing your bet size in a short amount of time is a dead giveaway to any dealer or pit boss that you’re counting, as it’s something that basic blackjack strategy players simply don’t do. You need to increase your bet size, but in a gradual way so as not to attract attention.
Hollywood star Ben Affleck was booted from the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas this spring for using a card counting system, a fact which was made painfully obvious by the fact that the spread between his minimum and maximum bet reached $20,000 (!). One Vegas insider told reporters: “Putting out a spread of that much is absolutely unheard of and absurd.”
Vary your bet size often
When counting cards you’ll want to increase the size of your bets as the count becomes more positive (and vice-versa). But it’s important that you don’t do this mechanically. Moving upward and downward in a linear pattern is going to tell the dealer that you’re keeping count.
What’s the solution? Arbitrarily vary your bet size from time to time. A basic strategy player will bet more or less depending on how they feel going into a hand, and you should mimic that behavior somewhat (not too much, or else you’ll be wasting money).
One little trick used by some pro blackjack players is to increase bet size after a win (which is what most basic strategy players will do) but decrease it after a string of wins. Cite the “law of averages” as the reason you’re decreasing bet size. Following the same pattern after losing, except decrease your bet.Then increase it again after a string of losses.
Varying your bet size is something that you should do primarily when the count is positive but relatively low. The edge doesn’t really turn in your favor until the count gets to be about seven and up. Once you hit that point, get as much on the table as possible (as long as it isn’t a ridiculous sum like Mr. Affleck’s!).
Talk like an everyday blackjack player
Most blackjack players go to the casino for social interaction as much as for the gambling action itself. Of course everyone has the right to sulk in the corner, but if you want to avoid standing out then casino table manners are important.
You should attempt to engage the dealer and fellow players in conversation. Be sociable, make it clear that you’re at the casino to have a good time. Narrate the game. Portray yourself as someone who has played enough blackjack to know his way around the table, but by no means an expert. A talkative player with some personality is much less likely to be suspected of counting.
This is difficult to do because counting while holding a conversation requires a tremendous amount of concentration. So you’ll need to practice at home. But being able to count cards while acting like a normal person instead of a robot is the most basic answer to the question: how do I count cards without getting caught?
The sum it all up
The key to effective, sustainable use of a card counting system is to use a disciplined betting pattern while making it appear to everyone around you that you aren’t using a disciplined betting pattern.
The real difficulty is not counting cards without getting caught, it’s disguising yourself adequately without blowing too much money on purposely misplaying hands. As mentioned above, you need to vary your bet size arbitrarily in order to avoid detection. Just don’t do it so much that you waste the advantage that a positive count gives. The key then, is finding a perfect balance.
~ To learn more about using a betting spread, click here ~