How Do Casinos Stop People from Counting Cards?

Ask any experienced card counter and they will tell you the same:

It really isn’t nearly as glamorous as it appears to be.

Counting cards at the blackjack table is the only realistic way of reversing the house edge in a casino. The idea being that by making a mental note of the cards dealt, you can build a more accurate picture of the cards still in the shoe. 

And in doing so, make more informed decisions about when to hit, stand, double down and so on. 

Over the years, there have been a few instances where card counting has played right into the pockets of those who’ve mastered it. But for the other 99.99% of people who give it a shot, card counting simply doesn’t work.

Why Card Counting Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

There are three reasons why anyone planning on investing time and effort in a card counting project might wish to reconsider:

1. It’s insanely difficult – you need a very specific type of photographic memory to be able to pull off card counting. Plus, it means focusing so hard on counting cards that it becomes impossible to gain any real enjoyment or satisfaction from the experience.

2. It’s not particularly profitable – successful card counting provides the player with an edge in the region of 1% to 2%. This means that at best, you’ll be winning 52% of the time and losing 48% of the time. Turning meaningful profit by way of card counting can be practically impossible.

3. It’s not easy to get away with – attempted unsuccessfully by millions of blackjack players over the years, casinos know exactly what to look for when spotting card counters. Which means that even if you do learn how to count cards, you’re unlikely to get away with it.

Of course, learning how to count cards purely for the fun of it is fine. If you’d simply like to know whether you can call it off and how it works, go for it.

But if you genuinely believe you’re going to make a fortune counting cards at the blackjack table…well, let’s just say now’s not the time to quit your day job!

Card Counting Countermeasures

Casinos are surprisingly savvy when it comes to most tricks the sneakier gambler likes to pull. Cheating in any way is more or less impossible in a contemporary casino, as they know all the tricks in the book. 

Card counting countermeasures in particular have a tendency to be quite innovative on the part of the casino. Often implemented without anyone in the vicinity having known what’s happened.

So for those who think they’re got what it takes to get one over on the casino, here’s how card counting is prevented from putting a dent in the establishment’s profits:

1. Surveillance from All Angles

First up, you better believe that everything you do from the moment you walk into a casino is closely monitored. Your behaviour at the tables, your body language, your facial expressions, your interactions with others – all watched and scrutinised from start to finish.

Seasoned casino security specialists can spot the signs of foul play from a mile away. They know exactly what to look for in a card counter and will pounce on anyone they suspect is breaking the house rules.

Not literally, of course – you’re more likely to receive a gentle “We know what you’re doing” whisper in your ear, before being allowed to make your own way out. Being roughed up behind the scenes by a burly team of casino security cards is really something that only happens in the movies…thankfully! 

2. Distractions and Misdirection

Another cunning tactic casinos employee to prevent card counting is simply distracting those suspected to be breaking the rules. There are so many ways of going about this – anything from approaching them will free meals vouchers to planting deliberately annoying and distracting stooges next to them. 

It’s a simple yet hugely effective trick, designed to take their eyes of the prize and lose track of what’s happening. 

Some casinos even send staff members over to congratulate suspiciously successful players at the blackjack table, glass of champagne in hand. In doing so, making the player acutely aware of the fact that they are being watched and have found themselves on the casino’s security radar.

3. New Shoes, New Dealers

All casinos have the right to swap out the shoe at the blackjack table at any time and without providing justification for doing so. As each hand is supposed to be 100% unique, it matters not whether the shoe is replaced or shuffled after each hand.

This is technically what happens when playing blackjack online, which is why card counting is impossible at a virtual casino.

Swapping out the shoe on a regular basis can therefore be a way of preventing card counting from taking place outright. Bringing in a new dealer can also throw card counters off the scent – particularly those who know this is a sign they’ve been spotted. 

4. In-House Actors

Last up, some people are lucky enough to be hired by casinos to spend their days and nights gambling for free. Albeit, with credit that isn’t really worth anything and doesn’t pave the way for prizes of any kind.

Instead, these unassuming-looking individuals are hired to keep an eye on what’s going on. Some of whom are pretty fantastic when it comes to spotting the signs and signals of card counting.

Make no mistake about it – anyone you encounter in any casino could be a paid stooge. Irrespective of how convincing they are or how unlikely they look, they could be watching your every move and reporting back to security. The busier the casino, the more likely there is a whole bunch of people who are actually employees in disguise. 

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