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Thursday, 19 July 2012

Las Vegas, Part 1 - Card Counting in Las Vegas

So my Blackjack 'Card counting' career has finally lulled to close after 20 glorious years. Yesterday morning, the Mirage casinos gaming floor boss kindly took me aside and asked me not to vary my bets in the blackjack tables - This is casino talk for i.e. ' We notice that you are card counting and likely to win, and we don't like that so, please can you play so that you lose money in this casino, or not play at all.'

Ho hum, at least thats a new approach, and at least it was polite. The Mirage was basically my last place in Vegas where I thought I could quietly play the $25 (dealer stands on soft 17) good penetration double deck game and pay for my holidays therever after. When all the other 'M' group hotels politely would 'Ask me not to play blackjack in this casino' I felt safe in this little haven of mediocrity, counting away and making some steady dough.

Anyway, so now i think i'll shed some light on this subject, since i'm not allowed to actually play anywhere anymore....


First thing I must say though to budding card counters (Card counting is a system of playing blackjack that uses reasonably simple statistics to win at blackjack, as hordes of MIT students will testify) Its not easy, its boring, and eventually, your career will be over and your name blacklisted in every casino in Christendom.

BUT if you're still keen to make steady and good money at least for a while, from just...well using your brain and some discipline, then read on....

The first thing to do is learn to card count. This i think took me 3 years, but its not really so difficult, just difficult to do PERFECTLY, and it must be done so. THIS link will show you how.


Single Deck games are only available in Las Vegas. But they are pretty awful rules, and have low penetration. Double Deck is therefor the game of choice for card counters (6 deck is also fine, it's just obviously less predictable)

You'll need a bankroll of 400 odd hands - which for a $100 min. bet table is $40,000. The higher the limit, the better the rules generally. However, there are some places in downtown Vegas have good double deck for $25-50 minimum bet - Binions for example, and Golden Nugget.

El Cortez does have this too, but their owner, one very pleasant man called Alan once happened to be watching me play and took me for lunch (telling me in no uncertain terms that I wasn't to ever set foot in his casino again) But he knew card counting well and gave me some great advice on avoiding 'heat'.

On the strip - the $25 double deck game I was thrown off of is just outside the high roller room, at the back of the casino. The $100 minimum in the high roller is the same, and shares its good rules with Bellagio, Aria, Mandalay Bay and the other high limit rooms in Mirage Group Casinos.

Luxor has a $50 minimum high limit room which is good, but they seem to be pretty 'on it' when it comes to throwing you off the table.


Well, I've always just done it on my own, but that causes a lot of problems with disguises, getting caught etc. So i'd say in general a 'one man wolf-pack' isn't such a good idea.

If you work in a group then one person can do the counting, while others can roll in when the deck becomes 'hot', and roll out again soon after, ideally even without even handing over ID.

Just watch/read 'Bringin Down the House' or the movie '21' to see how they do it, its actually not far off the mark. To get in with a team of card counters, you'll need to get involved in some of the blackjack forums online, but really, i have the (paranoid) feeling that the casino detectives are in on this too, so make sure who you speak to is genuine.

The most important thing you must know, especially if you get some trouble from the Casino, is that CARD COUNTING IS NOT CHEATING. It is also not illegal, its just simply good play. A card counter even successfully took Atlantic City Casinos to court, (which is why you won't find double deck blackjack there anymore as far as I know)

Here are a couple of interesting stories re Atlantic City Blackjack....

From this link -

'Atlantic City casinos in the State of New Jersey are forbidden from barring card counters as a result of a New Jersey Supreme Courtdecision. In 1979 Ken Uston, a Blackjack Hall of Fame inductee, filed a lawsuit against an Atlantic City casino, claiming that casinos did not have the right to bar skilled players. (Uston v. Resorts International Hotel Inc., 445 A.2d 370 N.J. 1982).[18] The New Jersey Supreme Court agreed, ruling that "the state's control of Atlantic City's casinos is so complete that only the New Jersey Casino Control Commission has the power to make rules to exclude skillful players." As of 2011, New Jersey Casino Control Commission has not promulgated a regulation to the contrary. According, Atlantic City casinos are not allowed to bar card counters. In response to Uston's legal victory, Atlantic City casinos began adding decks, moving up shuffle points, and introducing other player-unfriendly rules to further decrease a skilled player's potential advantage.[19]'

Ok guys, keep it quiet, and...Good Luck!

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