There’s always a house edge for the casino when playing blackjack. Playing perfect basic strategy will reduce the advantage for the casino. Unfortunately, this will only reduce the edge. The casinos still have a mathematical advantage.
Card counting and proper bet sizes can swing a small edge in favor of the player. If nothing else, card counting can be a good way for a player to lose less often. Having said that, counting cards isn’t for everyone.
I practiced card counting for a while and realized that it’s not for me. Card counting is a skill. I don’t mind practicing skills at home to become a better gambler. Practicing card counting and basic strategy over the years have greatly improved my blackjack game.
Part of being a recreational gambler is finding the right mix of strategy and fun. I’ve created a good blackjack foundation by learning how to count cards and play nearly perfect basic strategy. Card counting is part of the foundation but it isn’t something I use every time I play blackjack.
The skills I’ve learned have allowed me to minimize the house edge enough to a comfortable point. Counting cards involves paying very close attention to the game. The combination of booze and socializing makes it difficult to pay attention at the level needed to be a successful card counter.
Here are a few things to consider if you’re a recreational gambler considering learning how to count cards.
- Work vs. Play: Counting cards feels like work when playing blackjack. This is time I’d rather spend playing close to perfect basic strategy while having adult beverages and chatting with new and old friends. Counting cards properly takes time, focus, and effort that reduce fun at the table for me.
- Location: Card counting isn’t illegal but it’s frowned upon. If a player is caught they could be backed off or blacklisted from the casino. I prefer to gamble in certain casinos and don’t want to risk being able to spend time at places I enjoy. Sometimes the best places to count cards are the less desirable casinos. This is something to consider.
- Profit margin: Counting cards could swing the edge to the player by only a few percentage points. Someone mastering the skill will have to play a lot of blackjack at higher limits to turn a profit. My gambling budget won’t allow for riches no matter how good I am at counting cards.
These are my reasons for not counting cards. Gambling is an entertainment expense and I’m okay losing money. Sure I want to win but it’s not the only reason I gamble. I’ve spent time testing out different blackjack skills and I’m happy with where my game stands today.
Card counting is a next-level skill that could be profitable for a blackjack player. It may not be for me but it may be right for you. Here are some tips for counting cards at blackjack from an experienced blackjack dealer in Las Vegas:
- Assign card values
- Count cards
- Learn the true count
- Learn when to stray from the count
- Understand bet spreading
I start to lose focus on step two when I’m playing blackjack in a casino. There are just too many stimuli for me to pay 100% attention to the count.
There are numerous systems for card counting. You can learn more about the systems and the specific steps involved in card counting here.