In this article, we’ll be hearing from blackjack expert Henry Tamburin and we’ll be talking all about card counting and blackjack.
Henry has written several books on casino gambling, including Blackjack, take the money and run. He publishes the monthly blackjack Insider newsletter devoted to the game and is also an experience card counter, as well as a seasoned, blackjack tournament player, and he also writes monthly gambling columns for A half-dozen regional and national magazines and has appeared on several TV documentaries about casino gambling in america. I’Ve sure learned some interesting things from Henry about card counting and blackjack, and now here’s henry Tamburin, A lot of players asked me what is card counting Card-counting is nothing more than keeping track of cards since the shuffle and the cards we keep track of. Are the high cards and the low cards, and by keeping this ratio high cards to low cards it gives the card counter a prediction on whether or not he has the edge? On the next hand, A lot of players ask me: oh you know, card counting is a great technique, but do you have to be a genius in order to master it? The answer is no. Anybody with an average intelligence can learn how to count cards, and this is how it works.
We just simply assign a plus value or a minus value to specific cards in the deck. Generally the low cards we count plus one a high cards, we count -1 and what a card counter does. Is he just tracks each of these plus cards and minus cards? As he sees them on the table, and he keeps the sum of these cards – and that gives him his running count and that’s what he uses to know whether or not he has the edge Now are there more than one card counting systems. The answer is yes: generally, there are very simple card counting systems and one of the simplest ones is speed count. There are others like the k.o rookie count.
These are card counting systems which I would recommend for average players who are basically basic strategy players and want to try card counting. So I would recommend that they start with one of these simple card counting systems and something like speed count. You can learn in an hour or less now the more complex card counting systems are systems like high low and KO. They are much harder to learn, but you’ll get a greater edge than you will with the simple card. Counting systems, I’m always asked, is card-carrying legal and my response is: it’s perfectly legal to use your brain when you play blackjack and that’s all you’re doing when you’re card counting you’re using your brain.
So the short answer to the question is: yes: it is perfectly legal to count cards now. The second question I get asked is well, you know, are the casinos gon na? Let you card count, and the answer is yes, and no, Basically, if you’re a low limit player, they’re not going to get excited if you’re counting cards. But if you come in with a team or player and you’re in there for hours on end betting, thousands of dollars – yes you’re, going to get the casino nervous and they’re gon na watch you play and if they feel that your play is too strong, meaning you’re Going to affect their bottom line, yes, they can ask you to leave. Also the public has a misconception that, if you’re a card counter you’re going to win every time you play and that’s furthest from the truth, the fact of the matter is card. Counters will win but they’ll win over a specific period of time.
Generally, we like to say, we have the edge and it’s a long term edge, meaning in the short term, which is any individual session or even a week’s worth a play, and sometimes even a month. We could lose money. The analogy I like to make is compare card counting to investing in the stock market. If you invested in the stock market for twenty or thirty years, you certainly have more money than you started with, but on an individual, daily or weekly or monthly basis, your stock portfolio, probably whent up and down, but the curve went straight up. That’S what it’s like with card counting, we go up and we go down, but the curve always goes up.
Players always ask me: how do the casinos know that a player is card counting And there’s one characteristic of all card counters and there’s one thing that card counters have to do? No matter what system you learn and that’s to vary. Your bet size card counters, win money by betting more when they have the edge and bet small when they don’t have the edge. So this bet variation is one of the indicators that the casino uses when they suspect somebody is counting cards.
So, that’s why you don’t want to go to a casino if you’re a card counter and start betting five dollars and then throw out a hundred dollar bet that’s kind of a flag that lets the casino know that more than likely you’re counting cards. What are the negatives if you want to be a card counter And – and I say negatives just because a lot of people don’t understand this concept of a bankroll generally, you need money in order to make money if you’re a card counter and that’s because of the Short term losses that you can anticipate when you play blackjack at this website as a card counter. So as a general rule of thumb, you need about a hundred times your maximum bet, and that should be your bankroll. So let’s say you’re gon na spread from ten dollars to fifty dollars as a card counter. You should have fifty times a hundred, which is a five thousand dollar bank roll set aside for the sole purpose of using it.
When you played blackjack spreading ten to fifty dollars. Now as your bankroll grows, then you can increase your bet spread and when your bankroll takes a hit, then you should go down in your bet, spread and try and keep that 1-100 ratio. How long does it take for an average player to master card counting Again, it depends on the complexity of the card counting system. If you wan na learn the popular high low card counting system, it’s going to take you several months of practice two to three times a week, And how do you learn card counting? Well, first thing you should do is is is read a good book on what card counting is all about, and then you need a deck of cards and you got ta practice. Keeping that running count flipping the cards and adding the pluses and minuses and you’ve got to be able to count down a deck of cards accurately in about 30 seconds or less. So it takes a little bit of a practice to do this.
Now, if you’re going to learn a simple card, counting system like speed, count card counting system like that, you can learn in less than an hour. One of the most important conditions that card counters want to see in a blackjack game before they sit down and play is what we call the penetration penetration is the percentage of the cards that are dealt before the dealer shuffles. So, for example, if you’re playing a two-deck game and one deck is played out and now the dealer picks up the cards and shuffles, that’s a fifty percent penetration. You’Ve only seen one out of the two decks: that’s not a very good game for a card counter.
What a card counter would prefer is a two-deck game where more than one deck is played before the dealer shuffles, so the greater the percentage of the cards that are dealt, the greater will be the card counters edge, so card counters always look for games with deep Penetration as a benchmark for a two deck game, you want at least a sixty percent penetration and for a six deck game. You want at least 75 percent penetration. A lot of players have seen the movie 21 and they’ve seen the MIT guys beating the casinos, but they play in teams and some the most successful card counters are the ones who have played in teams and why is playing in teams so important? And the answer is, if you’re playing as an individual you’re playing against your own bankroll. If you play on a team, you have a joint bank and everybody on that team can play against this larger bank.
So if you play on a team, you can bet at a much higher level and therefore your profits are much greater and you’re doing this with absolutely no additional risk to your bankroll. So that’s why a lot of the professional blackjack players tend to form teams when they play in casinos. If you go the casino you might see signs on some other table that says: “ no mid-shoe” entry and a lot of players. Ask me: why did the casinos do that? Well, if you ask a casino manager, why do you have that sign?
Why don’t you let a player jump in in the middle of the shoe he’ll, probably say because the players at the table don’t like it when somebody jumps in because they’re gon na change the flow of the cards and they’ll cause players to lose? Well, that’s a lotta hog, wash the real reason that casinos don’t want players to enter in the middle of the shoe. It’S because of a technique that card counters use, which is quite profitable and the technique is known, is back counting and what card counters do is they’ll, stand behind or on the side of the table to wait for the shuffle they’ll watch the cards they’ll keep the Count and when the count goes positive, then they’ll jump out jump into the game. They’Ll make big bets they’ll continue to make big bets. When then, they have the edge and then when the count goes negative, they’ll leave and then they’ll wait for the next table to go positive and jump in. So that’s a very profitable technique for players and that’s the reason why casinos have those signs to not allow players to jump in.
In the middle of the shoe. There have been a lot of card counters who got a lot of publicity over the years, and I think the the first person to go on national television as a blackjack card counter was Kenny Houston. He appeared on 60 minutes and he kinda explain what card counting is and it really became a popular avocation for a lot of people.
After seeing him on TV, and there have been other players, who’ve gotten a lot of publicity and certainly the MIT team. I received a lot of publicity, but there’s also been a lot of players who haven’t been in the limelight that are really legends in the field of blackjack and there’s a book called the legends of blackjack written by Kevin blackwood and Larry Barker. And it’s an actual book, the scribes, a whole host of players who have made a ton of money as blackjack card counters.
And I encourage anybody who wants to learn about these legends to get a hold of the book legends of blackjack. And you can get that book on our website. Bjinsider.Com. A lot of players who watched the movie 21 saw this technique.
That card counters use with a BP which is known as a big player and that’s a popular technique that the professional players use, and this is how it works. Basically, you’ll have a player at a table, keeping track of the count and when a count goes positive. Instead of this player making large bets, he will signet one of his team players known as the big player, and he will then go to the table after he gets a signal and he will make the large bets now from the casinos perspective. He’S just gon na look like an average player walking up to a table making big bets now. He’Ll continue to make the big bets until his partner on the table signals and that the count has now gone negative and then the BP will then leave the table and then he’ll walk around and he’ll.
Wait for the signal from one of his confederates who are on other tables in the casino So by using this technique, they’re having one player known as the big player, making all the large bets whenever the count was positive. So this is how team players can win a lot of money in casinos by using the big player concept. A lot of players ask me: how can I become a successful card counter? One of the things you have to do is you have to be committed to learning, not only the technique of card counting, but you have to be able to understand the risks involved and you have to have enough money for your bankroll to sustain you.
When things. Don’T go your way and you will have some variances when you play blackjack and sometimes you’re gon na lose some money. So you’ve got to understand all this plus you have to have a certain comportment.
When you play, you can’t just sit there and always watch the cards and never talk and never drink. You’Ll. Just a stick out like a sore thumb that you’re probably card counting because you’re just staring in looking at all the cards.
So all of these techniques and skills you have to master and the way to do that is again. You got ta get a good book. You got ta read about card counting, you got ta practice and don’t practice at home with a deck cards. When there’s no noise, because in the casino there’s a lot of noise, so you need to practice at home with the TV on the Radio on and you have to continue to practice and to you can master the skills and counting down a deck.
You got ta understand risk a rowing. You got ta, have the right bank roll and you really need to start out at a low level of betting until you feel comfortable that you’re not making errors, and then you could advance to a higher level of betting. If you wan na learn more about me and some of my blackjack books and some of the articles, I’ve written you can go actually to three sources.