How to Use Card Counting at Other Casino Games?

How to Use Card Counting at Other Casino Games?

May 24, 2021

Card counting has been around since the days of the dinosaurs (in casino years). Edward Thorp published his infamous book on card counting, "Beat the Dealer," in 1962. Since that time, hundreds of books on card counting have been written. Movies such as Rainman, "21" and The Hangover have featured card counting. Documentaries about card counting include The Hot Shoe, Breaking Vegas and Holy Rollers. Card counting was even the topic of an episode of The Simpsons (Sky Police, 2015).

With all of this attention, it is no wonder that when the words "card counting" are used, everyone thinks of blackjack. The surprising truth is that card counting works in a far more general way to beat a wide variety of games.

Card counting can be considered for any betting opportunity on a casino game that is dealt from a shoe (or single deck), when multiple rounds are dealt between shuffles. Card counting is based on the simple principle that the house edge for the wager changes as cards are removed from the shoe.  Card counting does not require the counter to have a precise memory of each card that has been played. In that sense the word "counting" is a misnomer -- better would be "proportioning," though that hardly rolls off the tongue. What's true is that it's much simpler than it sounds.

In most methods of card counting, the player simply identifies two groups of cards, so called "good cards" and "bad cards" and uses a system to weigh whether there are more good cards than bad cards left. By keeping track of the relative proportions of these groups, the counter can estimate when the wager tilts to his side. The counter bets big when he has the edge and voila, he beats the house.

For example, in blackjack, the player keeps track of the relative proportion of the high cards (T, J, Q, K, A) and low cards (2, 3, 4, 5, 6). High cards are good for the player. He gets more blackjacks, his double downs get better cards and the dealer busts more often. Similarly, low cards are good for the house. The player gets fewer blackjacks, his double downs get lousy cards and the dealer makes more hands. All that's needed is a simple method to keep track of the relative proportions of these two groups. I'm going to skip the details.

Anyone who has visited a few casinos will have run across a variety of variations on the game of blackjack. Among these games are Blackjack Switch, Free Bet Blackjack, Pontoon, Spanish 21 and Super Fun 21. Each of these games can be beaten by card counting, some more than others. If you check, you can even get a book on beating Spanish 21 and Pontoon. But these are still blackjack and the good cards and bad cards are roughly the same as in standard blackjack. I am sure you saw the movie “rain man”:

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