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Can You Effectively Count Cards at Live Dealer Casino

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1. Unfavorable Table Conditions

The short answer to this question is no. Card counting is theoretically possible at live dealer casinos but unfavorable table conditions render it ineffective in practice. Live casino operators are familiar with the technique as well and take all possible precautions to protect themselves against card counters.

2. Unfavorable Rules Grind Down Your Advantage

You need player-friendly conditions when counting cards for the practice to be effective. If the rules are very poor, card counting will not suffice to help you beat the game. Rules such as no resplitting, no doubling after a split, and doubling only on totals of 9, 10, and 11 are too disadvantageous for card counters to overcome.

Blackjack payouts of 6 to 5 are also offered at some live dealer tables, further worsening the situation for advantage players. The vast majority of live tables implement eight decks, which significantly takes away from card counters’ edge.

3. Too Few Rounds per Hour

No matter how savvy you are at counting, you will not see adequate results in terms of expected value unless you play enough rounds per hour. Counting cards at live dealer tables is generally not worth your while due to the incredibly slow pace of play. Tables are often full and you have to wait for other players to make their decisions.

There are also intervals between rounds (approximately 13 seconds) for players to post their next bets, which further slows the action down. Successful counters normally play at least a hundred rounds per hour but the most you can manage at online live dealer tables is fifty rounds per hour. This snail pace grinds down your hourly expected value and renders counting a waste of time.

4. Insufficient Shoe Penetration

Card counting is only effective if the dealer gives you sufficient enough deck or shoe penetration, i.e they must deal enough cards before the reshuffle. This is not the case at online live casinos where blackjack dealers usually reshuffle in the middle of the shoe at best. With eight decks in play, the best you can hope for is four-deck penetration.

For reference, dealing four out of six decks in a six-deck game is considered bad penetration. Savvy counters look for dealers that show at least four and a half to five decks at six-deck tables. Respectively, a live dealer must show at least six and a half or seven out of eight decks to give you adequate penetration in eight-deck games.

Needless to say, this never happens. It is theoretically possible to extract some value under such conditions. However, you will be generating minuscule hourly profits because you will rarely see high positive counts. The bottom line is you will be better off collecting aluminum cans for recycling than playing live eight-deck blackjack with 50% penetration.

5. Continuous Shuffle Machines

Counting cards to an advantage becomes completely impossible at live blackjack tables that use continuous shuffle machines (CSMs). The dealers in such games deal out a couple of rounds, collect the discards, and load them back into the machine for a reshuffle. The CSM constantly shuffles the decks, rendering it impossible to keep track of the cards and count effectively.

Continuous shufflers are bad news for both counters and basic strategy players. They speed up the pace of the game because the dealer never pauses for a manual reshuffle. Basic strategy players thus go through more hands per hour at a disadvantage, losing more money in the long term.

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