“Colin, can I count cards at one of those live dealer online blackjack games?”
I get asked this question nearly every week.
To answer the question, let me first explain the conditions needed to beat blackjack with card counting:
- Rules that give the casino a small enough house edge that card counting can be effective. If the blackjack rules are too crummy, then card counting won’t be enough to beat the game. Things like “Blackjacks pay 6:5” or “No doubling after splits” tend to be too much for card counting to overcome.
- Adequate Deck Penetration. The dealer needs to deal enough rounds before the shuffle for card counting to be effective.
- Adequate Rounds per hour (to make it worth your time). Card counters are like assembly line workers, assembling positive expected value (EV) hands of blackjack. The more hands you can play per hour, the more you can expect to make.
So let’s cover each of these areas with online live dealer blackjack:
- Rules: Most online casinos offer pretty poor rules. But you can find average rules, making this not great, but not terrible for a card counter.
- Deck Penetration: If you’re considering counting cards online, this one is the killer. Many online casinos employ continuous shuffle machines. Those make card counting ineffective. But for online live dealer blackjack games that don’t use a “CSM,” they will have the dealer shuffle in the middle of the shoe. The best I have seen is a dealer shuffling after 4 of 8 decks. This is a huge problem for a card counter.
- Rounds/hr: Because of the combination of full tables and players needing to click buttons to give their playing decision, online blackjack games are incredibly slow. A professional card counter will be playing between 100-300 rounds per hour. The fastest online live dealer blackjack game I was able to find was less than 50 rounds/hr. Many online blackjack games will be closer to 20 rounds/hr.
So what does this mean in terms of money?!?
I ran a computer simulation based on the best online casino live dealer blackjack conditions I could find. Here are the results:
Betting Up to $100 Online Blackjack
Expected Value: $1/hr (if 50 rounds/hr), less than $1/hr if slower table
Bankroll Needed for <1% Risk: $40,000
So with $40,000, you can hope to make upwards of $1/hr online.
Let’s compare that with live casino blackjack with the exact same average rules as online, but with a normal deck penetration and rounds/hr:
Betting Up to $100 at a regular casino
Expected Value: $19/hr (if 100 rounds/hr), more if you play a less crowded table
Bankroll Needed for <1% Risk: $17,000
You can see that live casinos can be beaten for real money, but online casinos are basically worthless based on these conditions.
But let’s say you have a larger bankroll and want to make more money. Here’s what you could expect to make if you bet up to 2 hands of $500
Betting Up to 2 hands of $500 at Online Blackjack
Expected Value: $22.75/hr (if 50 rounds/hr), less if you play a slower table. Even at 100 rounds/hr, you’d expect to only make $45.50/hr
Bankroll Needed for <1% Risk: $250,000
So you would need a quarter-million dollar bankroll to hope to make upwards of $45/hr, but more realistically, you’ll make $10-25/hr (with a quarter million dollar bankroll!!!).
Compared to real casinos:
Betting Up to 2 hands of $500 at real casino blackjack
Expected Value: $101/hr (if 100 rounds/hr), more if you can play less crowded tables.
Bankroll Needed for <1% Risk: $50,000
At a normal casino, a card counter would be making at least $100/hr with 25% the bankroll needed to try to beat an online casino. And this is with mediocre rules. With better rules, it is possible to make $200/hr or more with this bankroll.
Blackjack can be beaten! But you’re not going to make money playing online casinos from home. The online casino blackjack games are just designed to crush you.
Blackjack at real casinos is viable as ever. My career win rate is $428/hr, at real casinos. And we’ve got hundreds of Members at Blackjack Apprenticeship making side income or full-time income as card counters. But you have to master the skills, then get off your couch and into the casinos to take their money!
To learn more about card counting and how to beat it for real money, we have a FREE card counting Mini-Course. Check it out below: