How Do Casinos Recognise Card Counters?

Last modified: August 8, 2019

Many people who want to play blackjack ask the following question – is counting cards illegal? Much to their surprise, the practice is not recognised as unlawful by either American or British law.

Nevertheless, casinos don’t really like card counters playing blackjack and often ask them to leave the table.  In fact, even online live casino card counting is perfectly legal as long as you don’t get caught. Just like blackjack players have methods of masking their activity, so do casinos have their own approaches to discover card counters.

Let’s take a look at how casinos recognise card counters, both in real casinos and live casino games.

New Card Counters Display Certain Behaviour

First of all, even someone who never played a single card game in their life can spot a card counter as they often seem to lack focus. They concentrate on counting cards in their head so much that they forget about chatting with the dealer or socialising with other players around them. If you want to count cards, you should practice on hiding it. Otherwise, the casino security will ask you to leave even before you play your first hand.

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Betting Patterns

As the end of the deck approaches, card counters usually raise their bets. This and several other betting patterns are the signs that a player is counting cards. This is important to know when you play live casino games for real money. Even if dealers cannot actually see you, your betting patterns might give away that you are counting cards.

Splitting 10’s

People who follow basic blackjack strategies that are accepted by casinos will never split 10’s. It’s a big no-no for every professional blackjack player. Only newbies and counters would split 10’s, and casinos are aware of that fact.

Taking Insurance

If card counters calculated that it’s the perfect timing to take an insurance bet, they would do it. Insurance bets are there to give casinos a more significant edge over the player, meaning that every professional player avoids it. In other words, it’s a casino’s tell just like splitting 10’s – only inexperienced players and card counting professionals use it.

Casinos Hire Professionals

All casino personnel is trained to recognise card counters. They undergo thorough training and even gain the “sixth sense” for card counters after a couple of years. Whenever they suspect that a player is using this technique, they will ask them to leave or ban them from playing live dealer blackjack games in online casinos.

If you want to learn card counting and still not get caught, you must play a lot of games in various casinos. Only after you master it, should you go to Las Vegas or register at popular online casinos. Even then, you should take into account that popular casinos hire pure professionals who have an extended track record of catching card counters.


To sum up, the right question to ask is not “Why is counting cards illegal?” but rather “Does counting cards pay off?” Even if you master this technique, there is never a 100% guarantee that you will get the most out of it and it may, sometimes, be better not to count while playing.

Casinos also have various methods of discouraging card counters from playing blackjack using the infamous system. For example, they would spice up the rules, so that card counting becomes more difficult, or they would play with minimum and maximum bets.

In other words, counting cards is a sort of bet itself as you never know what may happen to you. On the other hand, you can utilise blackjack strategies accepted by casinos. They will help you minimise the house edge and not risk being banned or asked to stop playing and leave the table.

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