Card counting is a prickly topic in casinos, and can result in you getting banned and threatened if caught doing so, but how do casinos catch counters? Is it your unusual betting patterns that give you away or are the bosses counting the cards as well?

You’ve seen it in the movies, and if you hang out in Vegas or other casinos, you might have noticed that advantage players are not exactly welcome.

Even though card counting does not break any laws technically, it is frowned upon in casinos, and the staff is always on the look out for those applying card counting strategies.

Striking a hot deck

Casinos will try to do anything to get a card counting player away from the blackjack player.

If suspicions arise, then the casino won’t immediately bring out the heavies, but it will try to implement some subtle hints and tricks to get the player away from what is called a “hot” table.

Other ways casinos spot card counting:

Facial recognition. Some casinos are equipped with the software that takes facial images from the surveillance camera equipment, which compares the person’s face to those in a database

Computer chips. Technology is working against the modern day card counter. Some betting chips are equipped with a device that tracks your bets automatically

Spotting teams. It might have worked for MIT, but card counting in a team can be obvious with signals or if a casino catches sight of all of you present more than once

This result in offering the player comps, like a free drink, meal or even a hotel room. In cases like this the casino wants to get the player away by any means necessary.

Other techniques include changing the dealer mid-game or by imposing a forced shuffle, so that the player loses count in the game and goes back to square one.

Of course, if things really heat up, then the security could get aggressive and throw out the player.

However the above shows that casinos are on the look out, but how do they know? Are the dealers and pit bosses also counting cards?

Casino spies?

Most of the time card counters are caught going beyond the usual blackjack strategies, but how do casinos figure out who is an advantage player and who is just lucky?

In some cases, players count obviously, although these are more amateur players, but then there are those players who are careless to show their spread bets and display abnormal betting patterns.

Most dealers can count cards after years of experience in dealing, and can deduce when the deck is hot or cold.

Also, next time you’re in a casino take a look up – notice all the surveillance cameras around? The casino’s security are monitoring the goings on down on the blackjack tables, and it’s likely some of them are also counting cards.

However, it’s rather tricky for most casino professionals to count cards, since they would need to be confined to one table watching the deck being dealt.

The dealer and the eye in the sky could potentially count cards, but the pit boss is another matter.

The pit boss’ job

The pit boss oversees the casino pit and manages the various tables. He or she is assigned to keep an eye on dealer errors and assure that proper casino procedures are being followed.

While it might look like the pit boss is there to catch card counters in the act, magically counting along and spotting betting patterns, the harsh reality is that he or she will be concentrating on a million and one things, and not counting the cards.

In fact, the pit manager’s job involves a lot of paper work, like player rating sheets, table fill, credit slops, table game inventory sheets and so on.

They also have to take care of any player disputes or dealer errors that come up and the pit boss has to moderate the situation.

The pit boss has advanced knowledge of all the table games and must really know his or her stuff, so as to make the best decision available where the games are concerned.

However, even with the above responsibilities – pit bosses can card count.

The pit boss and the card counter

Just because the pit boss isn’t counting cards at first, doesn’t mean they’re not looking out for advantage players.

Since card counting in general requires focus, and with more than one table to keep an eye on, the pit boss has to look for other telltale signs of card counting.

One such sign is when a player deviates from basic strategy coupled with an abnormal success rate. However, once the red flag goes up, the pit boss will start to run a count to monitor the player’s game play.

If the player is a card counting suspect, it’s the pit boss’ job to notify security to handle the situation.

Pit bosses can, and should be able to, count cards, but unless there is any good reason to suspect card counting, there is no need for the cards to be counted by casino staff.