Blackjack Cheating : Devices & Electronics
When I think about cheating at blackjack, I think about hiding cards up my sleeves, using blackjack teams or past posting. Methods that famous cheats like Jerry Palmer, Joe Classon and Mark Abromowitz were known to use. Methods that were known to work.
One method I never thought about using was various electronics. Devices that count cards for you, peek at the dealer’s hole card or transmit information to and from an outside party. No sleight of hand, marking cards or mucking — none of that stuff.
But to my surprise, cheating at blackjack with electronics is actually popular.
Cheating with electronics got it’s start and was made popular by Keith Taft. Keith played his first hand of blackjack in the 1960s and was instantly hooked. He wanted to learn how to beat the game. However, despite reading every book that he could, Taft never managed to beat the game legitimately using card counting.
What Taft did manage to do was build a microcomputer, which was considered to be one of the world’s first. George, as Taft named is, weighed 15 pounds and was strapped along with batteries to his waist. The computer was controlled by switches attached to his big toes inside of custom made shoes.
Using George Taft started to win at the lower stakes blackjack games. However, after moving up in limits he started to lose, so Keith took a break.
During his break Keith was contacted by Ken Uston, who was interested in creating another computer. And they did. This computer was named David, and required a team to operate. One player would be counting the cards and operating the device, and the other player would make large bets once David signaled that the count was in their favor.
Taft and Uston (and their team) were caught using David at some point. But because the device only counted cards and they weren’t actually cheating, and there were no laws in place at that time that prohibited the use of electronics at the blackjack tables, they were let go.
Keith Taft made a couple of other tools in his lifetime, too. One tool was called the belly-telly. This tool would try to get a glimpse at the dealer’s hole card, then broadcast that information via satellite to a truck outside the casino. The guy in the van would then figure out the most optimal play and relay that back to the guy playing blackjack.
Taft also made a tool which he named Thor. This device would track the shuffle so that you could figure out where the cards might be, namely the 10-point cards and aces. However, casinos started to add decks and shuffle them more often, which rendered Thor useless.
Ultimately, Keith Taft was a huge influence on the blackjack community. So much so that he was inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2004. He died a couple of years later.
How to Cheat at Blackjack Using Electronics
If you’re interested in cheating at blackjack with electronics (purely for entertainment purposes only), relax, you don’t have to be Keith Taft. You don’t have to create your own electronic devices. There are some blackjack devices already made available to the public.
Blackjack Beater is a device that is about the size of a car alarm remote. It’s real simple to use. You press a button whenever a high value card is dealt and another button for low cards. Blackjack Beater will then keep a running count for you. If you ever need to know the count you press another button, and through a series of short/medium/long vibrations, Blackjack Beater will tell you whether or not the count is in your favor.
CV Shuffle tracks the shuffle so that you know where the high, low and ace cards are at.
There’s an app for that.
There is, actually. You can find card counting apps that will keep a running count for you. Depending on the app you find, you’ll be able to choose from various strategies like the Hi-Opt-I, Hi-Opt-II or Omega II.
Build Your Own
Of course, you can build your own blackjack devices. However, you’ll need a good deal of knowledge, which would include programming, building computers, soldering, etc. You’ll need time, too.
How the Casinos Detect Cheating
Nevada outlawed electronic counting devices in 1985. So if you use one and are caught, you can face felony charges and up to 10 years in prison.
Casinos will catch electronic cheaters using similar methods for finding other types of cheats. They have facial recognition software, they can manually track your wins/losses and betting patterns to see if anything is suspicious (via surveillance). Often times, when the casino is consistently losing money that’ll raise a red flag, too. If you want to learn other ways casinos can detect a cheater, have a look at this article.