Have you ever thought about becoming a professional Blackjack player? Maybe you’ve seen a high-stakes tournament on TV or on YouTube, and was wondering how to get a slice of those huge prize pools. There are a lot of qualities needed to become a professional Blackjack player: nerves of steel, a firm grasp of advanced strategy, a deep bankroll are just some of them. For this blog post, I’ll be tackling card counting.
It doesn’t matter what your personal playstyle is. You can be aggressive or conservative, thoughtful or hot-headed – whatever your playstyle and personality are, you will have to learn how to count cards. In this article, I’ll be writing about card counting, and the different skills you’ll need to sharpen to become a terror of a card counter. This is just your first step. There is enough card counting info to literally fill a library. But for now, I’ll be dishing the basics. Hopefully, they help you become a formidable professional Blackjack player.
What are you waiting for? Let’s do this!
Is Card Counting Illegal?
Before I get to the meat of the article, I thought I should tackle this question first: is card counting illegal? Some of you might have seen a few movies where an expert card counter gets escorted out of a casino. If that’s what happens when someone gets caught counting cards, surely doing so must be against the law, right? Wrong. Card counting is 100% legal. Let me rephrase. Card counting does not violate any law.
But here’s the rub: card counting might be legal, but it is prohibited in casinos. A casino is a private establishment, after all. And that means they can impose any house rules. As a professional gambler, I have mixed feelings about this. I get that a casino is a business, and as a business, it needs to keep money coming in. And to do that, it has to prevent people from winning more than they lose. But card counting simply means playing well. It isn’t cheating in any way – you’re simply using our brain to calculate the most optimal ways of playing.
But it is what it is. The result is you have this sort of cat and mouse game between professional card counters and casino personnel. The best card counters know how to effectively “disguise” their counting (they usually do this by intentionally losing a few hands, so as not to attract the attention of casino floor managers). Casinos, in turn, have gotten pretty good at knowing how to spot a card counter. It’s a never-ending arms race which, honestly, is pretty cool to observe, since this sort of tension is what encourages professional Blackjack players to improve their card counting techniques – in fact, knowing how to hide card counting and fly beneath the radar is just as important as card counting itself!
So if you want to become a professional or elite level Blackjack player, you will have to know how to count cards, and how to hide it. Card counting is an integral technique in every professional card player’s arsenal.
Qualities of Successful Card Counters
I’ve been a professional Blackjack player for quite some time now. I’ve observed countless tables and faced just as many opponents. Every player is unique, but these are the qualities all pro Blackjack players have, regardless of personality and personal approach to the game.
Nerves of Steel
Card counting is, to put things mildly, a high pressure situation. Not only are you trying to win and get ahead, you’re also trying to avoid getting caught. Casinos will ask you to leave when you get caught. This especially sucks when you’re on a roll; leaving can have an adverse effect on your momentum. And when you’re worried that you’ll get buster and constantly looking over your shoulder, your game suffers.
The best players I’ve seen have ice running through their veins. They’re not afraid of getting caught (or simply pay it no mind). They focus on the game, and the game alone. And if they do get caught, they calmly cash their chips and move to the next casino. They’re unflappable, and that is something you should also emulate.
The casino environment is a study in sensory overload. The place is noisy, bright, and it’s all too easy to get hammered on alcoholic drinks. All of that is done on purpose. Casinos deliberately create a distracting environment in an effort to make it hard for you to focus on your game. They will give you free drinks to dull your playing skills, or offer you bad playing advice. Some dealers are even trained to give you sympathy when you lose. They do this not out of a desire to become your friend, but to encourage you to keep playing (and losing).
If you want to become a successful card counter, you will have to drown out all distractions and focus. Fortunately, focus isn’t just a quality, it’s also a skill. And like all skills, focus is something you can strengthen with practice.
A Decent Bankroll
Having a deep bankroll isn’t a skill per se. But entering a casino with sufficient funds can help ease the edge a bit. Professional gamblers treat money as a tool, or as a resource. Sometimes, you gotta lose a few hands to build up your momentum. That’s part of the game. And sometimes, you need to keep playing enough to beat variance and come out ahead of the house. You can’t do that if you have a shallow bankroll that could get used up after a few hands. That’s why it’s a good idea to have enough money to keep you playing longer.
Pays Attention to Detail
Card counting involves just that – counting cards. It involves being able to notice subtle variations and shifts in the game, and being able to make the necessary adjustments. To become a professional Blackjack player, you will have to focus on the game and pay attention to all the details that amateur players might not even notice.