Why Poker Players Should Count Cards At Blackjack

This isn't an article on how to count cards. If you are interested in that, check out this article on counting cards. Instead, this is an article on why professional and semi professional poker players should learn how to count cards. Consider it professional development.


Learn How to Count

If you are a professional or semi professional poker player, then it is worthwhile to learn how to count cards at blackjack. First of all, counting cards really isn't that hard. It takes about a hundred hours of dedicated practice at home to be able to play a winning game of blackjack. That includes memorizing basic strategy, learning how to count, memorizing the top 20 or so deviations from basic strategy, learning true count conversion, and betting based on the true count. This is really not a huge investment of time when compared to say going to college or learning how to play a winning game of poker. And the payoffs from learning how to count can be remarkable.


Huge Potential

With great conditions, and a six figure bankroll, you can have an hourly rate of up to $1000 an hour. I know this because I've played in such games. Spreading $25 to 2 x $1000, in a 6 deck, H17, DAS, DA2, ES10 game, with 1 deck cut off out of six, and playing heads up getting 200 rounds per hour I had an hourly expectation of over $1000. And I got considerable volume in under these conditions as well. Now this was a very good game, and I had a massive bankroll, but even still it should be clear that even with a smaller bankroll and a worse game three figure hourlies are still possible for professional players. And that is pretty good for someone who didn't go to law or medical school.


Branch Out

As a professional poker player, it makes sense to branch out into other areas of professional gambling. This can only expand your opportunities, and allow you to achieve higher hourly rates. Instead of bemoaning the waitlist at the casino, you can take advantage of the time it takes you to get onto the table and put in a blackjack session instead. Not only can this help you generate some additional expected value, but it is also great cover for your blackjack longevity. By playing both poker and blackjack at a casino, you can establish a business relationship which may make the casino less likely to impose counter measures on you or back you off, especially if you keep your spread polite.

Comp Hustle

Having the ability to put in volume at the tables playing a winning game is also a godsend when it comes to comp hustling. If you are on an extended gambling trip, then free room and board at the casino can be a life saver when it comes to expenses. All you have to do is put in a few sessions with a modest spread, generating a small amount of expected value and hopefully RFB comp from the casino. Plus you'll get mailers. But if you are going to put in heavy action, do it down the street where you aren't playing rated.

An Easier Game

In many ways blackjack is a much easier game to play than poker. Your opponent has a fixed strategy, from which they never deviate. And your opponent has extremely deep pockets. Imagine a fish that never busts but always rebuys. That is the casino. Blackjack starts out as an almost 50/50 proposition. 49.75/50.25. That's a 0.5% house edge. Yes, the casino has position. You go first. If you bust, and they bust, you still lose. But you can double down, split, and you get 3:2 for blackjack. Combine that with being able to spread your bet and make hit / stand decisions, and the game is almost a statistical draw. It only takes a few extra small cards to be dealt out before the game is 50/50, and a few more before you have an edge. Not only is blackjack an easier game to beat, but it scales almost perfectly. If you can beat blackjack at the lowest stakes, you can beat blackjack at the highest stakes.

And there are more ways to beat blackjack than counting cards. If you can have foreknowedge of an ace or a ten as one of your cards, then that is a tremendous opportunity to raise your bet. Likewise, if you can spot the dealer's hole card on a regular basis, that is another very lucrative opportunity. So long as there are gambling games, and human error, there will be opportunities that sharp gamblers can exploit.