November 7, 2021
Card counting in blackjack is a tried and proven strategy invented by Ed Thorp in the 60s. Players, notably the iconic MIT team, have gone on to win millions on the casino floor with this strategy. But as enticing as it sounds, card counting in online gambling isn’t a much-discussed topic.
So, is it possible to count cards while playing blackjack at the best live casinos online? And if yes, is it even profitable in the long run? Don’t worry; this article answers all these queries and many more.
The internet is awash with blackjack ‘experts’ claiming that card counting is a special reserve for mathematicians. But that’s not the case. Card counting is a reasonably simple strategy where players keep running a tally of all the cards that the dealer has dealt. This information can give you a sneak peek at which cards to anticipate.
That said, card counting will reveal to you if you stand any chance of hitting a natural blackjack or 21. If you’re playing on a player-friendly table, then you may get a payout rate of 3:2 for that. However, some tables offer 6:5 payouts.
If you’re a seasoned blackjack player, then “shoe or deck penetration” isn’t an alien term to you. It generally refers to the number of blackjack cards dealt before reshuffling the cards. The croupier shuffles when a specific cut card is reached in shoe games, whereas a fixed number of rounds apply in single-deck games.
For example, when playing an 8-deck blackjack and the dealer deals five decks before reshuffling, it means your deck penetration rate is 62.5% (5/8). On the other hand, you can sit at a 6-deck table, and the croupier deals five of the decks before reshuffling. In this case, the penetration rate is 83.3% (5/6).
From these examples, it’s evident that your count will be more accurate with the former. That’s because you need at least a 70% to 80% penetration rate to make any serious profits. Anything else only adds more volatility.
So, why do online casinos shuffle the cards more often? Simple, online casinos depend on software to shuffle their cards with no time being wasted. In return, they reduce the deck penetration rate to almost zero.
On the flip side, land-based casinos don’t shuffle cards more often because they fear losing the advantage. In other words, they win more profits in the long run by dealing more hands.
Therefore, mixing the cards more often can slow down the game and cut down on the land-based casino profits. All in all, card counting and deck penetration is a “mission impossible” on most online gambling sites.
Fortunately, many gambling sites offer live dealer blackjack games. These games are streamed in real-time from land-based casinos, with professional croupiers dealing players the cards.
With that in mind, it’s always best to stay at home and count cards on live online blackjack. After all, the conditions are strikingly similar to what you get in a land-based casino.
Remember, however, that live casinos know more about deck penetration and card counting than you do. That’s why the dealer will shuffle the shoe to prevent much deck penetration, although not so often. Here, the percentage is something between 50% to 75%. Now that’s enough to give you an edge.
Up to this point, it’s safe to conclude that card counting in blackjack at a land-based casino is best. That’s because most online casinos shuffle cards frequently.
But as said, live casinos offer players a 50% to 75% deck penetration rate, which is good enough, considering the number of miscellaneous expenditures at a land-based casino.
It’s also critical to note that online casinos give players a lower house edge than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Players can trim the house edge to less than 0.5% compared to 1.5% on land-based tables with the correct strategy.
All said and done, it’s a win-win scenario, although playing blackjack at live casinos offers more convenience and profitability.
Mumbai-born Priya is India's rising star in the realm of online casino guides. With a knack for fusing traditional Indian gaming narratives with cutting-edge digital dynamics, she's an essential bridge between classic and contemporary gaming for a vast Indian audience.