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Live Dealer Casino: Can you Count Cards?

Heard the term ‘card counting’ before, but not sure what it refers to? It’s a learned strategy, used by skilled blackjack players, to determine the likelihood of the next hand giving either the player, or the dealer, a possible advantage. With this knowledge they can keep count of the low and high cards they’ve seen to decrease the house edge. As a result, they’ll be able to place bigger bets at a lower risk when the count’s in their favour, or minimise their losses if it’s not. While this practice is possible at some land-based and online casinos, steps are taken at many others to make it hard or even impossible to perform. But can card counting occur in a Live Dealer environment at an online casino? Let’s take a closer look.

Deeper Deck Penetration

A shoe can contain a number of card decks – the more there are, the harder card counting gets. And deck penetration refers to how deep into the shoe a dealer will get before reshuffling the cards. The deeper they get, the more confident card counters will be in what they’ve counted, and the better their odds of making a profit off their count. So in a Live Dealer Casino, card counting can be done, though most of these casinos are likely to tell their dealers to shuffle each shoe when half the cards are finished being dealt. This 50% rule won’t make it worthwhile for card counters. However, if the dealers forget to do it, luck will be on the card counters’ side.

Dealer Tells

Another way of enjoying better blackjack odds at a Live Dealer table is to read the dealer. Dealer Tells can reveal more that the dealer would like, if you know what to look for. If a player can read into the gestures, facial expressions and timings of a dealer, they can get the extra edge to improve their game. One such trick is to try and reveal the dealer’s Hole Card. Rule of thumb is that the small stiff cards (2 – 6) are harder to read, so the dealer might look a little longer at these cards. Paint/face cards with a value of 10 or more (as well as the Ace) in turn, are easier to read, so the dealer will only take a second to identify it at a quick glance.

Learn Card Counting

If you have a great memory and a thing for numbers, you might be able to acquire the skill of card counting. There are various online courses, books and manuals available on the topic, taking you through every step of the process. To learn card counting, you need to follow a strategy or system on how to keep track of the ratio of high and low cards. You can follow four basic steps to get started. Firstly, assign a value to each card, then keep a running count of the cards-dealt-values. Step three would be to use this info to calculate the real or true count per deck and then change your bets as this real/true count rises.


The only way to master the skill of card counting is to practise as much as possible. You don’t want to bankrupt yourself, so a free play environment might be the best option to hone your skills and strategy at first. Once you’re confident, you can start off with small bets at an online, land-based or Live Dealer casino. Just pay attention to the level of deck penetration to see if it’s worth your while to count cards at your selected casino.