Mathematical models to beat the casino

Some players believe that you have a fair chance against the house at blackjack, unlike other casino games. Common blackjack tactics involve the use of mathematics, but not always in the way most people think. The idea behind these tactics is to for the player to gain a mathematical edge over the house, which may involve a complex system or simply getting the casino to alter its rules.

Creating an Edge

Both famous gamblers, Nick the Greek and Don Johnson used the same type of method to get a mathematical edge over the house. By getting ahead of the house, the gamblers increased their odds of bigger and more consistent wins.

In Las Vegas during the 1950s and 1960s, Nick used a system designed to get the house to change its usual rules and make concessions on the blackjack table. He would play purposely to break close to even on many blackjack games in a row.

The tactic earned Nick a high roller status, making the casinos accommodate him to keep his business. By making consistent concessions to keep Nick gambling in the casino, such as pushing an extra bet each hour, Nick began to earn a mathematical edge over the house.

Don Johnson used casino loss-rebates in Atlantic City in 2011 to a similar effect. In order to get Don’s business, a one million dollar deposit in the casino’s cage, a casino would have to give him a 20 percent rebate on his losses and raise the blackjack table limit to $100,000.

Don would not receive the rebate until his losses totaled at least $500,000 as part of the arrangement, but these concessions gave Don an edge over the casinos mathematically speaking. Don could quit after a few hands and take very few losses, depending on how he bet and played.

Card Counting

A common, more simple mathematical model in blackjack is card counting. The player keeps track of the cards played from the deck, allowing him to determine when the deck has cards that will work in his favor.

In most card-counting systems, the player keeps track of all low and high cards he has seen come out of the deck during the game. The player uses the information to temper bets, limit losses and change playing strategies during the game based on the remaining cards in play.

A player does not need superior math skills to count cards, but he must be observant and able to remember what he’s seen. The player will not want to draw unwanted attention by writing items down or doing other things usually not permitted at a table.

There are many distractions during live blackjack, including background casino noise. Being able to keep track of the drawn cards without attracting the dealer’s attention is vital for a card-counting tactic.

Using a card-counting strategy online may or may not work. If the player doesn’t have a live dealer online, he can still base his tactics on how the virtual dealer is dealing.


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