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Jerry Patterson - Does Card Counting Still Work?

  • Jerry Patterson Biography
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  • Jerry PattersonKenny Uston writes about downswings in Million Dollar Blackjack:

    ". . . if you were to play and enjoy a 2% advantage on every hand (which is unrealistically optimistic), after 2,500 hands you would have a 20% chance of losing. This statistic is continually borne out by our actual playing experiences . . ."

    He then goes on to describe a 22-day period "in some of the most favorable games I've ever experienced. The interval included five days of playing only positive four-deck shoes at the Fremont (team play), five days of juicy single-deck game at the Dunes and six days of playing only positive shoes at the Desert Inn."

    At the end of this period, betting optimally to his large bankroll and with the true count, Kenny was down $35,000.

    Now you have an understanding of why I stressed two bankroll divisor numbers in Chapter 3 of Blackjack: A Winner's Handbook; today's player, playing to the short-term, with winning strategies in this book, can start with a bankroll 1/or even 1/10th the size of the traditional card counters' bankroll.

    Here, then, are my recommendations for the traditional card counter in confronting the realities of today's multi-deck shoe games:

    1. Do not bet up with the count on successive losses as most other blackjack books recommend; set a rigid table stop-loss amount and adhere to it count or no count. Table departure is the best decision you can make under these losing conditions because it is quite possible that this same low-card clump may come back to whack you in the next shoe.

    2. Consider some alternatives from Blackjack: A Winner's Handbook and my best selling Casino Gambling on how to exploit those other 90% of the hands where the count does not indicate an increase in your bet.

    3. Consider abandoning the count altogether in the multi-deck shoe games and choosing an alternative non-count method (see Chapters 13 and 14) of Blackjack: A Winner's Handbook and Chapters 7 and 8 in Casino Gambling.

    4. Play the single- and double-deck games in which card counting results more closely approach the theoretical models. Use a short-term strategy in these games. There are many such games in the Nevada casinos and many casinos in other locations also offer these games. Study the methods in Chapter 17 of "Handbook" for possible use.


    Yes, blackjack can still be beaten. But it is not as simple as it was in the '80s when blackjack players could learn a point-count system, a basic playing strategy, and money-management betting tactics.

    You have to recognize two realities of today's game:

    1. For reasons already discussed; i.e., the non-random shuffle engendered card clumping, the count does not always work. You must learn when to use a count system and when not to.

    2. Even if the count would always work against today's game, the pit bosses have become very adept at spotting card counters by their betting patterns. In Atlantic City, where state regulations prohibit the casinos from barring gamblers, pit bosses can either restrict a player's betting spread (the ratio between a big bet when the count is high and a small bet when the count is low) or shuffle up (shuffle and restore the cards to a new deck or new shoe to effectively remove the player's advantage) on a player if his or her betting spread becomes too high. In Nevada a person detected as a card counter or thought to be a card counter may be barred from play.

    An internationally known gaming author, player, and instructor, Jerry is the author of five gaming books:

  • Casino Gambling
  • Blackjack - A Winner's Handbook
  • Sports Betting - A Winner's Handbook
  • Blackjack's Winning Formula
  • Casino Gambler's Winning Edge.

    The two most popular are Casino Gambling and Blackjack: A Winner?s Handbook. Either can be purchased at Amazon by clicking the links below, or at Jerry?s Web Site:

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