October 07, 2022

Is Card Counting in Blackjack Still a Thing?

When Edward Thorp introduced the concept of card counting in blackjack, players could not hide their joy.

They finally had a way to bring down the house and make a lot of money.

Soon enough, players were hitting casinos and making away with hundreds of thousands of dollars, propelling the making of movies such as 21, which depicted card counting to a high degree.

But this trend soon changed with the invention of online gaming.

Is Card Counting in Blackjack Still a Thing?: eAskme
Is Card Counting in Blackjack Still a Thing?: eAskme

Once the best blackjack online casinos became available to players far and wide, it was not long before players realized they had hit one major roadblock – they could no longer count cards as they had in physical casinos.

But did this mean that the card-counting era was no more? Let’s find out:

Can You Count Cards Online?

Players who counted cards in physical casinos followed a similar pattern.

They would mark the cards that had been dealt, keep a mental note of the running count, and figure out the true value of the cards in the deck.

It was quite a lot of brainwork, but over time, even those who were not math geniuses got the hang of things.

All they needed to know was whether a good card would likely get dealt, and they would base their moves on this. Easy!

Online casinos changed this in the following ways:

Constant ReshufflingThe premise of card counting relies heavily on deck penetration, i.e., how far the dealer goes into the shoe before shuffling.

The more penetration in a game, the easier it is to count the cards.

Online casinos are well aware of this concept and figured that the easiest way to beat card counters would be by often reshuffling the cards.

You will find that most dealers shuffle the cards after each hand, resulting in a new shoe, giving the card counters minimal or no deck penetration.

Without a certain advantage, you will have no option but to bend to the game's rules.

Edge Reduction:

When you are playing live dealer games, you will have somewhat of an edge.

After all, the dealer cannot keep reshuffling the cards after each hand, as this would slow the game.

They combat this loophole by only allowing 25% to 50% deck penetration.

Ideally, card counters have a high advantage when they have at least 65% deck penetration, with 70% being the best starting point.

As such, a reduction in this penetration considerably slows their roll.

However, some card counters can still win despite the odds against them, as they can still predict the future based on the previous deck.

Thus, counting cards in online casinos is quite hard to achieve.

Can You Count Cards in Physical Casinos?

We have established that getting the upper hand via card counting in online settings will not work.

But can you get away with it in physical establishments?

Not quite.

Physical casinos have adopted the following strategies to keep card counters at bay:

Dealer Switches:

When players start winning so much at one table, casinos respond by assigning a fast dealer to that table.

The dealer who comes in has much faster gameplay and is more experienced, so they can easily outpace the players.

The players will barely have time to count cards as they will be trying to keep up with the fast game.

Moreover, most players are superstitious, and such a replacement can thwart their confidence in the game.

Constant Reshuffling:

While physical establishments cannot shuffle the cards after each hand, they ensure to do so each time the deck penetration is high.

Most of them avoid hitting above 50% as they know this gives the players an upper hand. So, anytime the dealer reshuffles the cards, they affect the card counting in play.

Player Removal:

Casinos have implemented numerous ways to spot card counters. These include CCTV cameras, on-ground staff, and wary dealers.

When they realize a player has been counting cards, they approach them and ask them to leave the table.

But they don’t do it forcefully.

Instead, they offer the player a voucher or a payout to avoid causing any drama.

Sometimes, the casino forces the player out by raising the minimum stake by a high degree, which forces the player to go to another table or ask for a payout.

Hence, as many people may argue that you can easily count cards in physical casinos, that has not been the case since the MIT Blackjack Team.


Card counting is not illegal.

However, casinos discourage it and do their best to keep their players from using this strategy as it lowers their profit margins significantly.

As learning and implementing this strategy has gotten harder over the years, your best bet lies in learning how to play the game and leaning on proven strategies.

These are:

  • Understand the basics of the game,
  • Have a clear bankroll that dictates how much you can spend,
  • Play online to enjoy higher RTPs and numerous bonuses, promotions, and free games, and
  • Practice using demo games to understand your weaknesses.

That’s the easiest way to win a blackjack game.

If you rely on card counting, you will only lower the house edge by an average of <1%, even after mastering how to assign values and predict future hands.

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