Could Card Counters Actually Be Good For Business?

Jack of spades and Ace of heart in a casino table

I know, it sounds crazy. Maybe even unfathomable. But think outside the box with me. It’ll be a quick one, I promise.

For decades now, the main concern of table games management has been advantage play, specifically card counters. Now, there have been select few, who we’ve all read about, who have done serious damage to departmental bottom lines across the country. Across the world even. But the fact is, the overwhelming majority of card counters are not a threat at all. I’ll tell you why.

The problem that most advantage players have, is they go out and start playing before they have a full understanding of what they’re doing. They read a book, study how to play the game and eagerly go out into the field, unprepared. Without an understanding of how to structure their bets, what rules to play, or how much money they need, these players are likely not playing with an actual mathematical edge. They may know how to play the game, but they’re still at a disadvantage. Most players are vastly under-bankrolled, and don’t know how to manage their money according to the count, which is great for the casino. Anytime someone plays and thinks they have an advantage, that’s an ideal situation for the house.

Also, as I mentioned, many players do not fully understand the game, so they’ll play a game that they can’t beat. Such as a 6:5 table, or a spinoff like Super Fun 21. Not to say these games can’t be overcome, but it takes more than simple Hi-Lo counting, which is what most people try to play with. I’ve seen players attempt to beat these games but the fact is, the advantage is too much to overcome by simply counting cards. With that in mind, when you see someone on your games moving their bet with the count, there’s a high probability that they’re still playing at a disadvantage.

Another problem a lot of players have is their unwillingness to put in a complete effort into learning to count. Many players are out there moving their bets with nothing on their mind other than the running count. When asked about true count conversions, index plays, ace tracking, or any other aspect of a serious advantage player’s game, they can muster nothing more than a blank stare and a raised eyebrow. The fact is, without the true count, without index numbers, they’re probably playing against a house edge. This could be even better for the casino than a standard player. They’ll stay longer and dig deeper, because they think they’re supposed to come out ahead.

The fact is, very few people truly understand card counting, both players and casino staff. Obviously, the players who do, can cause a threat to the bottom line and need to be prevented from playing. However, so much effort is exerted trying to prevent and detect these players, when really, most of them don’t even have an advantage. Sure they may win, but even the worst gamblers win sometimes. And if they do win, the other players around will see that, and maybe stay a little longer, maybe bet a little more. And who doesn’t want that?

So, considering all these variables, maybe we need to redistribute our efforts elsewhere? Is it possible that how we’ve thought about advantage players all these years is wrong? Could be…

For more casino related content, join the Insider community by entering your email below.