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HOME > > The Horror of the Card Counter

The Horror of the Card Counter

15 November 2022

By Frank Scoblete

I am sure all blackjack players, and perhaps all casino players, have heard of card counting at blackjack. In short, a fractional-percent of blackjack players have the skill to follow the play of the hands, keep track by a formula of what cards have been played, and make their betting and playing decisions based on this information.

If the card counter is good at this, he or she will have a small edge over the casino and will be the favorite in the contest between them.

How much of a favorite will the player be? Somewhere between one-half and about 1.5 percent. There are some other methods that can be learned as well that can push the player’s edge to about 2 percent or so.

True, these edges are not huge but, come on, an edge over a casino is certainly a big deal. The casinos think of this as a big deal too and they are not at all in favor of such players. One term some casino folks use is to call card counters “earners” and “parasites.” There are some other terms too but this is a family column.

What are the steps in becoming a card counter? Easy-peasy. Learn a counting system. These go from relatively easy ones such as high-low, to counting almost all cards, to double and triple systems where cards have different impact on the game. These multi-level count systems are difficult to execute.

A normal person can learn to count cards in about a week, more or less.

You will learn counting at home by either dealing yourself decks after decks or using a computer app that will guide you through it.

Okay, that’s the good news. Now, for the difficult news or the bad news (I might as well be frank here). Counting at home is easy. You tend to go into a private room or area of your house or apartment and do the process over and over again. Oh, yes, you’ll get the hang of it in a somewhat short time.

But then, the real challenges arrive. You must learn to count in the casinos!

Take it from Joseph Delaney Jr., a card counter of over 35 years. “At home it is silent and you can concentrate. You go into a casino and it is noisy and usually loaded with players and your table will usually have some players too. Often these players want to talk to you. Or you’ll have a talkative dealer and you’ll have to pay some attention to these people.”

Anything else? “Oh, yeah,” says Delaney. “You know the casino bosses don’t care for card counters, you’ve probably watched the movies, or read a few books, and you know that what you are doing is frowned upon --- I put that mildly. Now you are nervous about them too. Are they going to catch me?”

Delaney sums it up. “You can learn to get over all of this with time. But it does take time. For some it takes lots of time, and many of those people generally quit the process. The few that remain will get the skill to handle all of the annoyances. They had the discipline to see it through.”

And that’s it right? Sadly, no, it isn’t that.

Delaney tells us, “Here comes a giant pitfall when counting cards, a player can lose and lose a lot and lose that ‘a lot’ in a very short period of time. You see when you have the edge you have to bet that edge when it comes up. During the game you usually play your opening bets, which will be relatively small, but when the odds favor you then you have to bet that real edge, meaning higher than normal bets, sometimes very, very big bets.”


“And you can lose them, one after another. You can be in a hole so deep that you wonder why you ever learned to count the darn cards. You have to get used to big losses in order to get the edge. Sounds nuts doesn’t it? Bottom line is that you have to be well-financed or you could be doomed by the nature of what you are doing. Look, card counting is a great skill but only a small number of players can get it and use it and afford it.”

All the best in and out of the casinos!

Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books, libraries and bookstores.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe@optonline.net.

Frank Scoblete
Frank Scoblete is the #1 best-selling gaming author in AmericaFrank Scoblete is the #1 best selling gaming author in America. His newest books include Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machines; Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo and Pai Gow Poker!; Beat Blackjack Now: The Easiest Way to Get the Edge; Casino Craps: Shoot to Win! and Cutting Edge Craps: Advanced Strategies for Serious Players.

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