What is card counting and can Ben Affleck teach us how to do it?
Thanks to Hollywood blackjack enthusiast Ben Affleck, we all got one more term to add to our gambling phrase book this weekend, ‘card counting’. Once Ben’s did he or didn't he Vegas saga hit the headlines, card counting became the gambling term du jour. But before we start accusing every person who beats us at snap of ‘doing an Affleck’ we might want to find out exactly what this tricky technique entails.
Ben Affleck, the face of 'card counting'
Now, although ‘card counting’ is not illegal, it is a pretty sure fire way to get yourself ‘politely asked to leave’ at a Casino’s blackjack table (as Ben now knows). The casino’s don’t want you to do it, but that’s all part of the gamble and if your crafty enough a little ‘card counting’ could go a long way.
Of course ‘card counting’ is not a trick for the novice player, this complex strategy is solely for the seasoned pros for whom blackjack is like second nature. The strategy allows players to determine whether or not the next hand is likely to give a probable advantage to the player or to the dealer. It is one of the many ‘advantage gambling’ techniques that mathematically minded players can use to try and get the upper hand on the casino.
The first element of card counting is keeping a running count of the high and low cards played from the deck giving you a better estimation of your chances of beating the dealer. The most common way for a player to do this is by assigning each card a value and keeping a running tally. Typically cards two to six will be given a plus one value, whilst 10 through to king will get a minus one and the 7 and 8’s get zero. An ace is usually awarded a minus one as well, though it all depends on the player. What the player is looking for is to know when the deck is in their favour so they can place low bets when it is ‘cold’ and higher ‘bets’ when the deck is hot.
The real trick with this strategy comes in the betting. Many casinos are able to pick up on this hot/cold betting pattern and if you're doing it to an extreme (we’re not looking at you Ben,) that’s when suspicions are raised. If you want to be an effective and undercover ‘card counter’, once you’ve mastered how to ‘count’ the next thing is to work on the art of betting.
Would you let this man in your casino?
Perhaps the hardest part of ‘card counting’ is being able to pull it off without getting your coat handed to you by casino security. This only comes after careful practice and knowing how to be subtle enough with your bets not to draw suspicion, but also make the 'card counting' worth it.
Perfectly legal, but also terribly tricky those who can will when it comes to ‘card counting’. Affleck might have blown his cover in Vegas, but hey, it’s all part of the gamble.