Using the “Running” Count to Confirm Card Counters

Recently, I have been getting information that the occurrence of card counting in the casinos throughout North America has increased.  Several casino executives claim that the COVID masks make it more difficult to detect known (published) card counters and advantage players (and probably cheaters for that matter).  Who knows?

The following email comes from a casino executive who came up with an interesting question.  He is not the first individual who has run into this situation and is looking for a short cut to a difficult process for determining when the card counter will increase his/her wager profitability with the count.  It got me thinking about how the problem can be solved in a manner that does not confuse surveillance and floor personal and might make their jobs somewhat easier.

Email Question:

I need some direction.  I work with a good group of young surveillance people, but they are having a hard time with the concept of true count.  Is there any way they can determine a bj player has the edge using only the running count?

My Reply:

Good question.  There is a method for using the running count as the tool for determining at what point a suspected counter would wager more money.  Instead of converting the running count to true count, you can determine the count needed to wager more money (and take insurance) when certain portions of the dealt shoe have been seen by the suspected counter.

The cards in the deck provides the counter with an advantage any time the “true count” is equal or greater than +1.5 (about 0.5% advantage over the house).  Using a six-deck game (and only a six-deck game) as the basis, at different deck penetrations a profitable “running count” can be estimated and will work just as well as TC conversion.  Since there really are not any profitable opportunities before the counter sees two out of the six decks the following estimates start after two decks have been seen by the counter.  Note: These are decks that are actually “seen” by the counter playing at the table, not just dealt.

Two decks seen – Running count is +6 (+12)

Three decks seen – Running count is +4 (+9)

Four decks seen – Running count is +3 (+16)

Five decks seen – Running count is +2 (+3)

As an example, when the six-deck game gets to 2-decks (approximately 100 cards) seen, the running count needs to be +6 or greater before the counter can profitable increase his/her wager.  When the six-deck game gets to 3-decks (150 cards) seen, the running count needs to be +4 or greater.  And so on.

The positive number inside the parenthesis is used for determining when the counter may wager the Insurance bet profitable.  In the multiple deck game of blackjack (two or more decks), the counter gains 70% to 80% of his/her advantage through wagering more in profitable situation, and 20% to 30% by deviating from basic strategy based on the count.  Of all the strategy deviation gains, wagering Insurance when it is profitable provides approximate 50% of strategy gains which is 10% to 15% of total profitability.  If you have your surveillance (and casino floor) team focus on correlations between profitable counts and wagering up, and profitable insurance counts and placing insurance bets (regardless the value of the hand the counter holds), your team will be better equipped to spot the true card counters.  I hope that helps.

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