Blackjack Game Guide

Does card counting work and is it legal

Card Counting Legalities – Is Blackjack Card Counting Legal?

Card counting is a commonly used blackjack strategy, which keeps track of the proportion of high cards to low cards in the deck. But is blackjack card counting legal?


Does Card Counting Work?

There are many reasons why card counting works in the game of blackjack.

  • A dealer must hit up to a soft 17- If a dealer holds a soft 16, he has to hit. If the deck is full of high cards, this increases the chances that he will go bust. A player is not required to hit on any specific number so he can play more cautiously if the deck holds a high proportion of high cards.
  • There is more chance of scoring blackjack – When the deck holds a high proportion of tens and Aces, there is more chance that the player will score a blackjack. This is true for the dealer also, however, as blackjacks pay out 3 to 2 for the player, this is a more valuable hand for the player than for the dealer.
  • More successful double downs occur when the deck is rich in tens and Aces.
  • Player splits are more successful – In decks that are rich with tens and Aces, split hands tend to be more successful as they are disproportionately against weak dealer cards. In this case, the dealer will tend to bust more often when the player splits.
  • Insurance pays off more often – If a deck has a high proportion of tens and Aces making it more likely for blackjack to occur, insurance is a good bet for the player.

Does Card Counting Work?

The best that you can hope to achieve with card counting is approximately a 1% advantage over the casino. There are many factors that will affect exactly how much of an advantage you can achieve, such as your skill at card counting, the strength of your strategy, the game rules and the ratio of your high bet to low bet.  

Is Card Counting Legal?

In a word, yes. Card counting, without using any external devices, is completely legal. However, casinos are aware that skilled card counters have an advantage over the house and, of course, they don't want to lose money. Casinos will employ all sorts of techniques to attempt to prevent card counting from occurring. They use surveillance machinery to gage how skilled a card counter is. A dealer may engage the counter in conversation to attempt to break his conversations. He may shuffle the deck more often or whenever the card counter increases his bet. Casinos in Las Vegas, which are private property, will simply prohibit a known card counter from playing blackjack in their casino.