Card Counting Myths And Truths

I have been fascinated by the idea of card counting for some time. You see, I secretly wish I was Superman, mainly so that I could lay down some serious wrath on people who cut me off in traffic. And perhaps go smack some presidents around in my off time. Ones who will not be named.

And, it seemed to me, that card counting really was something akin to having a superpower. So, I decided to set out and do a bit of research, not at all thinking that I myself might be able to master the skill, bringing me one step closer to red capes and blue tights.

You Need Superpowers

My most solid impression of card counting came from the movie Rain Man. The movie portrays card counting, demonstrated by Hoffman’s character Raymond Babbitt, as a sort of power that makes a person unstoppable at blackjack. Of course, Raymond Babbitt in Rain Man was an autistic savant, so perhaps superpower-like card skills required some sort of mental disability in order to be possible. Damn, guess the cape and tights were going back into my cupboard.

But, in the real world, two very important things need to be made clear at this point. First, card counting does not require that you are an autistic savant (although this does help). Real world savants have astonishing photographic memories, to the point that they really do seem like walking encyclopaedias.

In order to count cards, however, all one really needs to do is train themselves appropriately. Now, I’m not in any way suggesting that this training is easy. It is in every way incredibly, astonishingly difficult, and I doubt many average people would have the time or patience. But, as far as I understand, an average person is capable of doing it. At least under certain circumstances.

It Never Fails

The next thing to make clear is that card counting doesn’t make the player unbeatable at any card game; it simply gives them an advantage. Card counting is the process of keeping track of which cards have been played, thus giving an idea of which cards still remain in the deck. At some point, the card counter will determine that the deck has a certain selection of cards remaining, meaning that the chances of receiving a beneficial card have gotten higher. It is not an exact science by any means.

You Can Get Rich

With enough time a card counter could probably, gradually, rack up a pretty good amount of cash playing blackjack. But, a card counter will never get that chance. The casino will have the player ejected fairly quickly, and this means from online blackjack as well, and any winnings will be confiscated.

Very simply put, card counting unbalances the house edge in a card game, and casinos are not in the business of giving away more money than they intend. In real world casinos, security teams are on duty 24 hours a day, watching for signs that card counting is being performed. At online casinos, a computer system keeps track of every players winning statistics, and looks for signs that something is amiss. So, in both cases, it is not possible to get away with card counting for long.

I Shall Not Be Superman

With all this research completed, I had to face the hard reality that I would not take up card counting. This broke my heart, of course, as dreams of being a James Bond like casino God rapidly faded away.

As an afterthought, however, I didn’t put my cape and tights away just yet. Reading about card counting made me realise that the human mind is capable of some petty astonishing things, if specifically trained to do so. I started a memory-training course just for fun, and can confirm that my memory is, by far, way better than I had ever dreamed. I’m not joking about this. In less than a week I was recalling long lists of items, using simple but effective little techniques. The cape and tights remain on my nightstand, just in case.

Marc Armstrong - Signature