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Counting cards
buzzed, B&W
So, as some of you know, I've dabbled in counting cards. I use a very basic strategy, that barely gives me any edge. The basic premise with counting cards is you track the number of high cards vs. low cards. When there are more high cards, you bet more, as your odds of getting a strong hand increase, as do the odds of the dealer getting a high card when they take a hit (causing them to bust more frequently). Casinos can count a deck the same as a player, so one of the easiest way to detect individual card counters is by keeping the count, and if players bets track with the count, then you probably have a counter. From what I've heard, to really make money at this, you need to have at least a 10-1 swing, but that's also pretty easily detectable by casinos (jumping your bet from 10 to 100 or 25 to 250 sort of screams of counting). Other tells are dropping to the minimum bet when the count isn't favorable, always betting the minimum off of a shuffle, etc. (Note, team play, a la the MIT team, makes things much harder for the casino to track as there are no longer large bet swings.) The first time I tried counting in a casino, I was asked to stop playing blackjack, even though I was only using a 1-2 bet swing, and playing $5 hands. I even posted about this in a blackjack forum, and people thought I was lying as it's a bit absurd for the casino to care about a small fish like that (professional counters tend to play $25 as their betting unit).

Anyway, I was killing some time earlier this afternoon. My general M.O. is I'll play $100, and either double up or lose it all. There's been this guy the last couple times I've gone - taller, skinny Asian guy, wearing a fanny pack (facing the front). He sits down, and probably has around $3,000 in purple ($500 chips) and some smaller chips. Trades in a purple for all green ($25), and a black ($100) for all red ($5). He then proceeds to play $30 hands, with occasional jumps to $330, and drops to $10. Anyway, very obviously a counter, and I'm surprised he hasn't been asked to leave as he's getting into “real” money amounts for the casino.

I’m also surprised he doesn’t camouflage his play at all - but he’s very bad at concealing his counting. When he’s making his large bet, you can tell he’s nervous - his breathing becomes heavy, he stares intently, etc. When he wings one of these, he does a “yes!” with a small fist pump.

Anyway, just a bit strange . . .