“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