Is Card Counting Illegal at Casinos?

Is Card Counting Illegal at Casinos?
Published: Mar, 12 2024
3 mins read
Is Card Counting Illegal at Casinos?

Card counting is a controversial topic that has sparked debate among gamblers, casinos, and legal experts for decades. While it’s not illegal in itself, casinos have taken measures to discourage and even ban card counters from their premises. But does this mean card counting is illegal? Let’s explore this issue further.

What is Card Counting?

Card counting is a blackjack strategy used by players to gain an advantage over the casino. Card counting means keeping track of dealt cards to predict which ones are likely to come next. Skilled counters use this to adjust their bets and improve their chances of winning. Counting cards is a skill anyone can pick up with the right approach. It’s a simple strategy that relies on precision and concentration. Players who count cards accurately can potentially raise their winning odds by 1%. Though it may seem small, it’s a proven method to effectively double your bankroll.

Despite its effectiveness, card counting is not considered illegal. In fact, it’s simply a strategic skill that a player uses to improve odds at the blackjack table. However, casinos can choose not to serve card counters under the “right to refuse service” rule.

Casinos employ various tactics to detect and deter card counters. They have surveillance cameras and trained staff to identify suspicious behaviour, and they use automatic shuffling machines. Additionally, casinos use legal measures such as banning suspected card counters from their premises. 

What is punishable by law is when players use electronic devices or marked cards to assist in card counting. This is considered 100% cheating. Players caught using such devices may face criminal charges and fines.

To sum up, card counting isn’t against the law, but casinos don’t like it and discourage it. Although players do not get in legal trouble just for card counting, they could get kicked out of casinos or face legal repercussions if caught cheating. So, players should understand the risks before trying card counting in a casino.

How to Count Cards in Blackjack?

There are various strategies. Here’s a simplified guide to counting cards in blackjack:

Assign card values

Give each card a value. Cards 2 to 6 are worth +1, cards 7 to 9 are worth 0, and cards 10 to Ace are worth -1.

Keep a running count

 Start counting from 0 when the deck is shuffled. Adjust the count as each card is dealt.

Calculate the true count

Divide the running count by the number of decks remaining. This gives a more accurate measure of the player’s advantage.

Adjust your bets

A positive true count means more high cards are left, favouring the player. Increase bets in this case. A negative true count means more low cards are left, favouring the dealer. Decrease bets then.

Practice and be discreet

Counting cards takes practice and focus. Stay inconspicuous to avoid casino detection.

Know when to stop

Counting cards doesn’t guarantee wins. Set a limit for losses and stick to it to avoid overspending.

Remember, while counting cards isn’t illegal, casinos may ask you to leave if they suspect you’re counting cards.

Card counting in online casinos, especially in games like blackjack, is much more challenging compared to physical casinos. This is primarily because online casinos typically use random number generators (RNGs) to shuffle the cards, making it impossible to track the deck accurately like you would in a live game. Yet some players use card counting when they play online blackjack games with a live dealer.

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