Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Must-Know Card Counting Strategy Tips

Blackjack Card counting MUST be optimally camouflaged.

With all the buzz on the movie 21, everyone and his uncle want to be the next Jim Sturgess, Jeffry Ma, Kevin Lewis, or anyone else either realistically or fictionally involved in the MIT Blackjack Team movie. My e-mail box is filling up every day with questions about the team, the movie, card counting strategy, tips, anything and everything at all concerning this new phenomenon that is, at least for the time being, getting more hype than poker.

All the inquiries have been concentrated on card counting strategies, techniques, which countries and casinos offer the best counting opportunities, as well as legality issues, which it is of course perfectly legal to card count! However, not one of my e-mailers seems cognizant of the fact that the LEAST important component of card counting is card counting. That's right, card counting itself is easy. Anyone with half a brain, relatively good eyesight and some capacity for data retention can learn to count cards sufficiently in a day or two, be it the simple plus/minus system or some of the more advanced counting methods.

But what's really important and most integral to a successful card counting operation is being able to implement it without drawing attention and being able to play for as long as possible before you finally do, which at some point has to happen, unless, of course, you're bad at it or never win enough money to get noticed.

So how do you do this? As an individual or a card counting team? The answer is in one word: CAMOUFLAGE. The word has obvious military connotations, but any good card counting team should indeed be run as a military operation. My 25-year casino cheating operation surely was. So then remember what you're about to read here, because it is the most important ingredient to success in card counting. In fact, I will list these crucial camouflage techniques in random order because one is as important as the other.

1) The LAST places you or your team should visit at the casino are the blackjack tables. That's right, if you're alone or using the counter/big player team strategy, make sure your big players are seen playing big elsewhere in the casino first. Have them play craps, roulette or baccarat before blackjack. You may think that it's a bad idea for them to be seen by the casino bosses. Not so. The key is that they will be seen as high rollers; craps high rollers, roulette high rollers and baccarat high rollers. See what I'm saying? So that when they are later signalled over to a hot blackjack table with a high true count and lay down the big bets, the bosses in the blackjack pit will already have been made aware that these big players have been gambling big in games other than blackjack. Yes, communication from the craps, roulette and baccarat pits reaches the blackjack pits. True, gambling elsewhere will hurt your bankroll a bit, but it more than pays off at the end because it will have bought you much more time card counting at blackjack where you will spend many more hours than you did at the other games, with at least the same percentage advantage as the disadvantage you had playing craps, roulette and baccarat. Of course while playing those other games, stay away from foolhardy bets like "hard-ways" and other proposition bets in craps, tie hands in baccarat, and use single-zero roulette wheels if the casino has them.

2) When you make scores card counting, do not have your big players cash out chips of a denomination higher than $100. Instead, have them break down $500 chips and up into smaller denomination chips at the tables they were playing at BEFORE your team started playing blackjack. This means have your big players return to the craps, roulette and baccarat tables where they first showed their big action and break down their big chips into $100 and $25 chips. If you've won too much, then just get the $100 chips. The key is you don't want to hit the casino cage with $500 and $1,000 chips. THAT draws heat!

3) When you have losing sessions, it doesn't necessarily mean that you've taken less exposure and can return to the same casino on the same shift the next day. Remember that casinos hip to card counters watch HOW you play more than whether you win or lose.

4) VERY IMPORTANT: Learn how to change your card counting strategy in mid-play! Yes, there are other ways to go about card counting than the classic counter/big player strategy. When I was a professional casino cheater, my team was able to change its strategy (which cheat move we would do at a table) at any given moment due to certain playing conditions in the casino. The same capability is necessary for successful card counting teams. To read the specifics of changing strategy, go to my card counting page. For those of you seriously interested, I do teach card counting classes.

Finally, remember that above all, discipline, perseverance and cleverness is what makes the successful card counter, not the ability to count the cards.