Advantage play is one of my favorite gambling topics to cover. I get excited when newer casino gamblers share their successes with me.
I try to preach the importance of diminishing or eliminating the house edge whenever possible. The fact is that many gamblers don’t realize there are proven ways to win money in the casino.
Blackjack is my favorite casino game. I love the elements of strategy, but I love the chance to make money.
Card counting makes winning at blackjack a reality. The basic techniques are simple to learn; with the proper practice, anyone can count cards.
Still, I talk to gamblers that insist card counting won’t yield a long-term profit. I guarantee you that it will, when done correctly.
Address these top 9 reasons your card counting isn’t returning a profit. Then you’ll see the benefits you’ve been missing.
1 – Your Bankroll Management Needs an Overhaul
Having the edge over casinos does not negate the importance of bankroll management. Some card counters believe they can slack on fundamentals because they are guaranteed to win.
That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Yes, you can sometimes win by ignoring basic gambling principles. But without solid money management, it’s more challenging to see a profit.
When you’re confident that your counting abilities are on point, bankroll management can still hurt you. Even with the mathematical edge, you can have losing streaks.
If you go bankrupt before wins come, the entire exercise is pointless. The same is true for not having enough money left to take advantage in favorable situations.
I watch card counters vary their bet amounts with a poor count out of boredom. That’s robbing profits when the count is rich.
Get back to bankroll management 101, and your profits will start to improve.
2 – You Aren’t Finding Games with the Best Rules
Card counters must be playing in games with the best rules. Any rule that slides the edge back into the casinos’ favor is costing you money.
Not long ago, many paid 3 to 2 for a natural and allowed players other courtesies. That’s not the case in today’s casino climate.
Casinos are catering more to the recreational gamblers that view casinos as a resort experience. That allows casinos to make the games worse for players.
The average casino guest doesn’t know the impact of a 6 to 5 payout in blackjack. Many people probably see 3 to 2 and somehow think 6 to 5 is better.
You do know the difference between the two. Sometimes players can feel overwhelmed by the prospect of finding good tables.
Don’t surrender to playing poor games. If your objective is to make money playing blackjack, you’re going to have to put in some work.
The rewards will be worth the effort. Only playing games that give you the best opportunity to succeed is paramount to your success.
3 – Deck Penetration Isn’t a Priority
The number of decks in play will have a significant impact on your success as a card counter. It’s much easier to keep count in games with only one or two decks in play.
You’ll also have a minor variance when the count is favorable. For example, there will be fewer opportunities for low-value cards to come your way.
It took me years to comprehend the importance of playing with minimal decks in play. However, deck penetration was a more challenging concept to grasp.
Deck penetration refers to how deep into the shoe a dealer goes before shuffling. Some games use a continuous shuffling machine.
That means you get zero penetration. It’s impossible to get a count or make a profit on these tables.
Finding games that provide over 80% deck penetration should be the bar. Any games below 70% penetration are best to avoid.
I can’t stress the significance of getting deep into shoes. It’s the only way a card counter can maintain a profitable model.
If you aren’t making money from card counting, you may not be seeing enough cards in a deck. Find games that allow a greater penetration for better results.
4 – You Don’t Practice Enough
Many card counters put weeks and months into learning and developing card counting skills. When they’re satisfied that they understand the fundamentals, they cease all practice routines.
That’s a horrible plan on several levels. Novice and intermediate card counters should be practicing more than they play.
One of the best ways to become a better card counter is through practice. Practice is among the few aspects of card counting you can control, take advantage of that.
Regardless of what task we’re trying to improve, practice is a vital aspect of getting better.
Start your practice sessions by burning through decks while keeping a count. I’ll give you a hint; you should always finish with a zero.
You can increase the number of cards you deal with, simulating the nature of a casino blackjack table.
When you’re confident that you have that down, mix in distractions. Casinos are busy places, and there’s always something trying to steal your attention.
Stay true to your practice routine, and you could see a dramatic shift in your profit margin.
5 – You’re Not Looking at the Big Picture
Your problem may be that you’re failing to see the big picture. Card counting gives players an edge over the casino, but it’s a long-term edge.
That means in small samples; there could be variance. It’s the same variance that allows some players to win against the casino.
For example, a player sits down at the baccarat table and bets on the banker for an entire session. The house edge is 1.06%, so expect to lose over $1 for every $100 wagered.
Yet, there is variance at work. That allows players to sometimes win, despite the casinos’ advantage.
Still, over several sessions, the losses will usually wash any wins away. When players reach 10,000 or more hands, the house edge has probably shown itself.
Don’t look at a few losing sessions as not being profitable. You may need more time at the tables for your edge to come out.
6 – You Deviate from Basic Strategy Too Much
Basic strategy is a cornerstone of good card counting. However, there are times when deviating from basic strategy can lead to more significant wins.
Unfortunately, some card counters deviate to the point of abandoning basic strategy altogether. You can’t make the most of your sessions card counting without the basic strategy.
Regardless of experience, you don’t have a better formula for success. Otherwise, you’d be raking in the money by the truckload.
Stick to the basic blackjack strategy, and you’ll get back on a profitable path.
7 – You’re Attracting Too Much Attention
One of the most considerable obstacles for card counters is the casino staff. The dealers, pit bosses, and security are always on the lookout for potential advantage gamblers.
If your play is getting the attention of casino personnel, it’ll be hard to make any money. Casinos will back off suspected card counters.
The level of infractions necessary to be backed off will depend on where you’re playing and how much money is in play. But the more money the casino stands to lose, the better your chances of getting pushed off the tables.
When you lose the ability to play blackjack, you obviously can’t make a profit. If you’re getting backed off before you can make decent money, work on camouflaging your play.
That should give you more time to get in, make a profit, and get out unnoticed. Bouncing around to different casinos will also help disguise your motives.
A big part of card counting is not letting the casino know that you have the advantage.
8 – You Need a Better Betting Spread
If you don’t have a good betting spread for blackjack, you won’t maximize your profits.
The betting spread is the amount of your flat bet size (table minimum) and your wager when the count is favorable.
Most card counters go with a spread of 8x. For example, you play for $20 per hand until the count is favorable, then jump to $160.
When you go too low, you can’t make a profit. Yet, when you go too high, the casinos take notice.
You can help yourself by only increasing bets after a win and decreasing after a loss. But that will further cut into your profits.
9 – You’re Easily Distracted
It’s hard to keep your focus in the casino. There are hundreds of variables at play to distract you.
If you’re easily distracted, you’ll have a tough time keeping an accurate count. You can combat this by practicing with distractions.
You won’t ever eliminate the sights and sounds of casino floors, but you can learn to deal with them.
If you don’t have profitable blackjack sessions, there could be an easy fix. Look at the top 9 reasons your card counting isn’t returning a profit for the apparent offenders.
Counting cards isn’t guaranteed to make you a winner every time you play. Yet, it is profitable in the long term. You won’t get many of those opportunities in the casino.