Card Counting in Live Dealer Blackjack Games

Learn why live dealer blackjack card counting is an acceptable practice, but not very helpful to strategic players.


Live Dealer Blackjack Card CountingBlackjack enthusiasts have long debated the superiority between land-based table games and online casinos. Professional players laud the brick-and-mortar variety for providing a more strategically beneficial platform. Online players are drawn to the sheer convenience of playing on a desktop or mobile device.

But what if the two were combined? What if you could play real live table games on a computer or smartphone? Well, you can. They are called live casinos, and they’ve been around for quite some time.

The games take place on real tables, in a large studio, with real cards dealt by real, professionally trained dealers. The games are live streamed in real time to players, who can interact with the dealers and other players around them via web chat.

These games are extolled for presenting the absolute best of both worlds. But do they really offer all of the superior qualities players are looking for? The biggest question that comes to mind is this:

Can players use card counting in live dealer blackjack games?

Live Dealer Blackjack Card Counting

We know that traditional, RNG-based online blackjack does not offer any form of card counting strategy to players. The decks are electronically reshuffled after every single hand, no exceptions. Land-based casinos, on the other hand, are a perfect breeding ground for professional players to invoke this top-shelf strategy.

At live casinos, it really is a mixture of the two. The cards are physically shuffled, and there is some level of deck penetration, like a land-based casino. But there is a cut-off point enforced by live casino management.

Live blackjack games require their dealers to reshuffle the shoe when it gets to about 50% deck penetration. So once about half the cards have been dealt, the dealer will stop and shuffle the cards.

Realistically, yes, a player can count cards at live dealer blackjack tables. However, the efficiency of doing so isn’t nearly so beneficial as it is in a land-based casino, where most of the deck is utilized.

Any professional card counter will tell you that the further into a deck you count – whether it’s a single deck or the maximum 8 decks – the more effective the strategy becomes. Knowledgeable counters are only able to successfully judge the probabilities of profiting from a blackjack game once they get well past 50%.

The end result is that yes, you can count cards in live casino games. However, it won’t be nearly as helpful in beating the house. And unfortunately, all live blackjack tables use an 8 deck shoe, and enforce the 50% deck penetration rule.

Live Dealer Casinos Still Beneficial

Just because you can’t count cards doesn’t mean live casinos don’t have their benefits. They are still a great choice for players who enjoy the convenience of online gaming. Especially if they want to experience the communal interaction of a live table.

They also give novice card counters a real live forum to practice their counting skills. Believe me, it does take practice, and the last place you want to test underdeveloped counting skills is in a brick-and-mortar casino. It may not be illegal, but they have every right to throw you out if they suspect you’re counting the cards.

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