Confessions Of A Blackjack Dealer: Part Two
I have no problem if you count cards. My employers, on the other hand see things differently. Blackjack already gives them pretty much zero house edge against players who know the optimal strategies – like standing on a Hard 12 when the dealer’s card is a 4, 5 or 6. But if players keep track of which cards have already been dealt from the shoe, they can turn the odds in their favor. It’s not cheating. It’s not even that difficult.
There are two things casinos can do about it. One, they can use a shoe with six or eight decks in it. This makes card counting (and also my job) tougher to do, but not impossible. Two, they can deny you service. At any point, the casino has the right to “back off” a customer from the blackjack tables. Sometimes, we’ll let you stick around and play the other games. Sometimes, we’ll call you a cab.
The trick to not getting caught is to keep it subtle. We’ve got cameras all over the place looking at all the tables and all the players. If you do anything suspicious, legal or otherwise, you will be seen. Then our lovely Surveillance Information Network kicks in and warns all the other casinos about you.
And then there’s me. If you make a decision at the table that only makes sense if you’ve been counting cards, it’s my job to announce it to the floor – after I’ve double-checked your play with you. This happens every now and again. Let’s say I deal you a 10 and a deuce, and my face-up card is a 6. Like I said earlier, the proper strategy here is to stand. Players who don’t know better just look at their 12 and figure they need to hit, which is fine, if not optimal.
Then you get the people who double down. This is a dead giveaway. You should never, ever be doubling down on hands of 12 or more unless they’re soft hands. It only makes sense if you know there’s a whole bunch of 7s, 8s and 9s left in the shoe. “Doubling on a Hard 12,” I’ll announce to the pit boss, using my best Michael Buffer voice. I used to really want to use my Bruce Buffer voice while jumping up and down and pointing at the guy. Maybe I’ll do this on my last day of work.
This actually happened not too long ago with a certain celebrity who shall remain nameless. Nice enough guy, sharp as a tack, but he didn’t even seem to care that we could tell he was counting. We even told him a couple of times, cut it out or else we’ll have to call you a cab. Maybe he wanted to get caught. He did get some free publicity out of it, I suppose. Too bad he and his wife won’t be coming back. Especially his wife.