Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Spacemilk » Tue Nov 24, 2009 3:09 pm UTC

Isn't that a good way to get beaten up in a dark alley behind a casino in Vegas?

...honestly I've never been to Vegas, that's just what I've heard. Um, I guess good luck not getting beat up...
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Decker » Tue Nov 24, 2009 3:12 pm UTC

Spacemilk wrote:Isn't that a good way to get beaten up in a dark alley behind a casino in Vegas?

...honestly I've never been to Vegas, that's just what I've heard. Um, I guess good luck not getting beat up...

While I'm pretty sure that people don't get beat up behind casinos anymore (Or not quite as often anyway), it is a good way to get permently banned from a casino.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Spacemilk » Tue Nov 24, 2009 3:42 pm UTC

Uh the OP was deleted so now apparently I'm appearing as the OP... I rather wish I'd quoted the guy (I thought I had) but ANYWAY he was just asking for tips and tricks with it...
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby -.Mateo.- » Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:05 pm UTC

A few years ago, I used to compete with two friends: One of us would quickly draw one card after the other, and the other two had two count and guess what the last cards were (for example, "there are 3 cards left, the count is on -2, so there are two -1 cards and one 0 card.")...After some time, we got really good at it, and competing didn't make much sense, as we always tied.

I actually tried it a couple of times when playing with friends and it worked, but I never thought about going to a casino...I wasn't even old enough, and the one time I actually went to a casino, I stayed away from the card games (I just don't have that much money)...Besides, I know what we did was just some kid's games, not the real stuff.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby MiB24601 » Tue Nov 24, 2009 7:06 pm UTC

Unless you have a large dedicated bankroll when you start, you'll probably go bust before you have a chance to make some serious money using card counting.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby folkhero » Wed Nov 25, 2009 7:01 pm UTC

Casinos love people who think they can count cards. I think you have to really be an expert to get a good advantage over the house, so most people end up thinking they are so smart while their chipstack gets smaller and smaller. If you actually are good at counting cards, it's not too hard for the casino to figure it out because you are always changing your bet based on the count, and the casinos probably all have computers that keep track of the count for them. One possible way to avoid detection is to have 2 different people, one bets small amount and is the one who is counting, another who is a big spender but who only plays when he/she gets the signal that the count is good.

I tried counting cards for a little bit on a not-for-real-money online blackjack site. I don't remember doing particularly well.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Tass » Wed Nov 25, 2009 7:23 pm UTC

folkhero wrote:I tried counting cards for a little bit on a not-for-real-money online blackjack site. I don't remember doing particularly well.


That requires the deck to be simulated correctly. If it just gives random cards then you're screwed.

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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Splendid » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:05 pm UTC

Tass wrote:If it just gives random cards then you're screwed.

I heard casinos have, like, three decks to pull from now, randomly switching out any number of cards for new ones at any given time.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:22 pm UTC

folkhero wrote:Casinos love people who think they can count cards. I think you have to really be an expert to get a good advantage over the house, so most people end up thinking they are so smart while their chipstack gets smaller and smaller. If you actually are good at counting cards, it's not too hard for the casino to figure it out because you are always changing your bet based on the count, and the casinos probably all have computers that keep track of the count for them. One possible way to avoid detection is to have 2 different people, one bets small amount and is the one who is counting, another who is a big spender but who only plays when he/she gets the signal that the count is good.

I tried counting cards for a little bit on a not-for-real-money online blackjack site. I don't remember doing particularly well.
That's also a good way to end up in the aforementioned back alley with the aforementioned bruisers for the aforementioned asskicking that totally no longer happens. Totally. Actually, I have no idea how legal or illegal someone else counting the cards while you take advantage with the betting is. Given that using a notebook to keep track is illegal, I kinda find it hard to believe that using someone else's brain isn't as well. You're perfectly within your rights to use your own, but there's a couple of things the Casino can do to stop you, once they find you. And yes, you can evade them for a while, sure, but not indefinitely.

But no matter what, you're going to be battling the Pit Boss. That's the guy or gal who will likely at first politely ask if you'd like to try the poker table or maybe the slot machines if you didn't take the hint by the shuffling deck and dealer getting switched out on you a couple of times. If you don't take that hint, they'll throw you out.

Casinos, like webforums, are private property and the folks running it are perfectly within their legal rights to tell you to get the hell out and never come back and if you don't, unlike webforums (fucking hell), Casinos can have you arrested for trespassing.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Aetius » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:26 pm UTC

Splendid wrote:I heard casinos have, like, three decks to pull from now, randomly switching out any number of cards for new ones at any given time.


Most casinos will use a six deck shoe for Blackjack (which both lowers the utility of card counting as well as making it hard as hell to remember that many cards).

In other games like poker, where the deck gets shuffled after every hand, card counting is absolutely useless.

As a general rule, you can't beat the house.

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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:30 pm UTC

Poker and Blackjack are the only games where someone who's skilled can make a (small) amount of money. Poker has you playing against other people, so the House doesn't give a fuck. Blackjack, with the measures they've put into place, is a game that requires a lot of skill for a minor payoff. Anything more than a minor payoff will have the Casino asking you to leave as you're hurting the bottom line too much.

But yeah, in general, any game that puts you against the House.. the only reason it's offered is because the House wins.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Philwelch » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:36 pm UTC

Maybe we're looking at this the wrong way. A lot of Vegas hotelcasinos will give you free rooms if you gamble enough, and also keep you in free drinks for a good while, so you might still end up +EV even if you lose money gambling (assuming you want a free Vegas hotel room and free drinks for awhile.)
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Briareos » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:39 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:A lot of Vegas hotelcasinos will give you free rooms if you gamble enough
I thought it was "if you lose enough." Anyway, the free drinks I can get behind.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:47 pm UTC

See Above: The House Wins.

Even if you end up taking a lot of money from the Casino on your first visit, they enjoyed your visit so much that they'll totally give you a free hotel room and food on your next visit! Just be sure to visit the Casino itself, located off the Lobby, of course.. here, have the key to the Speed Elevator, that gets you from your room to the gambling floor in a jiffy, so you don't have to wait at the general elevator with everyone else.

And remember all that money you won last time, with how little you started with? Imagine how much MORE you can win if you bring all that money back! And hey, go ahead and bring more money too, so you'll win even more!
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Yakk » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:49 pm UTC

I've heard that in Spain, there are laws that mean that the casino cannot kick you out for things like card counting. They can only kick you out if you cheat (or the like).

The justification is that, in exchange for the licence to operate a gambling establishment, they are no longer allowed to pick and choose losers.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Philwelch » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:57 pm UTC

If you have self-control and don't go on tilt when you're surrounded by blinking lights and bells and whistles, you can still come out ahead depending on how much a hotel room and free drinks for a day are worth for you. Casinos usually count on people not having self-discipline.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby MiB24601 » Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:51 am UTC

Aetius wrote:Most casinos will use a six deck shoe for Blackjack (which both lowers the utility of card counting as well as making it hard as hell to remember that many cards).


When card-counting, you don't have to remember every card, you only have to remember the current count. However, I certainly agree that it's easier to lose the count the longer you play. Oh, and when you have more decks, the counts get higher and the games get more interesting.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Aetius » Thu Nov 26, 2009 2:07 am UTC

MiB24601 wrote:When card-counting, you don't have to remember every card, you only have to remember the current count. However, I certainly agree that it's easier to lose the count the longer you play. Oh, and when you have more decks, the counts get higher and the games get more interesting.


Maybe if you're an amateur, but a pro knows exactly how many of each rank is left in the shoe, as well as the total number of cards left in the shoe, and is running the EV calculations in his or her head on the fly ;).

The difficulty of this maneuver explains why casinos aren't terribly concerned about card counting (although Stu Ungar could do it).

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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby MiB24601 » Thu Nov 26, 2009 2:56 am UTC

Aetius wrote:Maybe if you're an amateur, but a pro knows exactly how many of each rank is left in the shoe, as well as the total number of cards left in the shoe, and is running the EV calculations in his or her head on the fly ;).


What ranking system requires knowing how many cards of each rank have been dealt? If you can do that easily, you wouldn't need a ranking system.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Thu Nov 26, 2009 3:18 am UTC

From what I've heard--this means, Wikipedia research after I watched 21--card-counting will, statistically, make you money. However, your advantage is something like 51%, if that makes sense. You'll win, yes, but it will take a while before the law of averages starts swinging your way, and of course the casinos in the US have no problem throwing you out. At least the Vegas ones. I'm in Oklahoma, we have lots of Indian casinos, I don't know what they're like.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Quadropus » Fri Nov 27, 2009 11:15 am UTC

Card counting is an awful lot of work and risk for a very slim advantage over the house. As someone mentioned earlier, they only offer games that they know they'll make money off, casinos are after-all, a business. One where they count on you believing you can beat them so betting "just once more".
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby folkhero » Fri Nov 27, 2009 8:47 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Poker and Blackjack are the only games where someone who's skilled can make a (small) amount of money.

I think some versions of video poker give you an advantage over the house if you play it 100% perfectly. Of course most people don't play it perfectly and even if you do the amount you win over such a long period of time makes it a pretty poor way to make money. They way you make money is just to lose money for a long time until you get a royal flush, and if you don't have patience or a big bankroll to start with you may well never see a royal flush.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Aetius » Fri Nov 27, 2009 9:11 pm UTC

The easiest way to make money at a casino (assuming you don't own it) is to sit down at a poker table, identify the lag-tard and bleed him dry.

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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Yakk » Fri Nov 27, 2009 9:42 pm UTC

.. and if you cannot identify the sucker at the table, you are the sucker at the table.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Chfan » Sat Nov 28, 2009 3:03 pm UTC

I'm not old enough to, but if I was old enough to have had the chance, I'd probably say "No, I like money."
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Hawknc » Sat Nov 28, 2009 3:10 pm UTC

Chfan wrote:I'm not old enough to, but if I was old enough to have had the chance, I'd probably say "No, I like money."

So do other people. Which is why they come up with systems like card counting to get more money from gambling.

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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sat Nov 28, 2009 4:33 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:I've heard that in Spain, there are laws that mean that the casino cannot kick you out for things like card counting. They can only kick you out if you cheat (or the like).

The justification is that, in exchange for the licence to operate a gambling establishment, they are no longer allowed to pick and choose losers.

I think this is also the case in New Jersey.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby korora » Sat Nov 28, 2009 5:09 pm UTC

I've never been to a casino, but I played a lot of cards in high school and counted cards in almost every game. Counting is comparatively easy in a lot of non-casino games (e.g. Hearts, Euchre) and gives you a huge advantage over people who aren't keeping count.

My roommate went to the casino a couple weeks ago, drunk off his ass, and sat down to play blackjack. One of the guys at the table was just sitting there, not playing, and counting out loud, so my roommate followed his count and made ~$40.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Dromtry » Sun Nov 29, 2009 12:22 am UTC

I would never take the chance...I don't want someone to break my cheekbone with a small hammer.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sun Nov 29, 2009 1:00 am UTC

No, seriously: A casino's interest in stopping card counters is making money. Incurring civil trials for assault and battery does not serve this interest. Incurring criminal trials for assault and battery, conspiracy, etc. does not serve this interest. Incurring a shutdown by state regulators does not serve this interest. Dissuading non-counters from playing blackjack does not serve this interest. Unless you are playing at some sort of secret Mafia casino (which is already a bad idea), you will at the very most be banned from the premises.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby dedalus » Sun Nov 29, 2009 3:46 am UTC

Here's the point: Card counting is not illegal, but the Casino has ways of making it unprofitable. These days most blackjack tables have 6+ decks stacked together, and they reshuffle after 3-4 hands, meaning that maybe 10% of the cards have been dealt (if that; some tables reshuffle every game). If you play blackjack perfectly you have a 99 cent return on the dollar assuming the deck is fresh. Statistically, it is very unlikely for you to ever surmount these odds in the short time before the deck is reshuffled, and even alternating your bets 10-20x when the game is in your favour won't beat the small odds advantage the casino has normally. Also, you have to be perfect at counting, and it's hard to play perfect blackjack and count cards perfectly, and it's not worth it learning. And most casinos keep track of the count now, and reshuffle faster when it plays in your favour.

If you want to make money gambling, play poker. Online poker sites have a small enough rake that a good poker player is profitable (enough to live off even), and there's plenty of guides and forum advice out there. However, it is hard to get the discipline, and you have to have a fairly deep stack to cover your losses to win out overall. So unless you're prepared to donate a large amount of time to learn, it's not worth it.
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Re: Card Counting -- has anyone ever tried it?

Postby Armadillo Al » Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:03 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
folkhero wrote:One possible way to avoid detection is to have 2 different people, one bets small amount and is the one who is counting, another who is a big spender but who only plays when he/she gets the signal that the count is good.

I tried counting cards for a little bit on a not-for-real-money online blackjack site. I don't remember doing particularly well.
That's also a good way to end up in the aforementioned back alley with the aforementioned bruisers for the aforementioned asskicking that totally no longer happens. Totally. Actually, I have no idea how legal or illegal someone else counting the cards while you take advantage with the betting is.

This is exactly how the MIT team did it in Bringing Down the House (as well as in 21 boy, it's a shame they never made a movie of that book, isn't it?), but that was in the mid-90's, so the casinos have wised up to it and created countermeasures (banning mid-shoe entry in any game worth protecting, among other things).

While I didn't exactly do much counting last time I went to the casino (but still played basic strategy), I managed to lose my shirt while my dad next to me, who plays with the strategy of "eh, it seemed like a good idea at the time" was actually winning money. Yeah, that was fun.
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