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One example of such a play is "splitting tens." That is an agressive play that's usually foolish, except when someone is "card counting"? When suspected, card counters are "barred" from casinos (or worse).

Can casinos protect themselves against card counters by limiting bet variations in blackjack?

Card counters are usually identified by wildly changing their bet sizes. (That's mostly how they make their money, but they can make "a little" extra money by using card-counting to inform their play). Suppose someone "split tens" without making large bet variations. Would he still be "suspect?"

BTW, what is the rule for splitting tens? Do they have to be the same denomination (two tens, two jacks, etc.) or merely of the same value (e.g. king and jack).

Years ago, someone was harassed by casino authorities for hitting to an 18 and catching a 3 (usually a bad play that made 21 this one time). Upon questioning, this person told the casino that the dealer had a "tell" that said the dealer had 20, so the "heat" went on the dealer, not the player.

Could a player get into such trouble today under the new rules (the dealer is not supposed to look at his "hole" card, but merely turn it up after all the players have played)?

What other kinds of plays may draw "heat" and why?

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I would guess if the casino considered "Aggressive" (and other factors) a sign that the person in question was a card counter or cheating some other way. Just for making "Bad" moves they won't throw you out of a casino because after all the casino's business model is around players making bad moves so that the player loses and the casino wins. –  Joe W Mar 11 '13 at 22:56
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Could you move the splitting tens question into it's own question? I think that it gets lost in your more general question about behavior, thanks. –  WPickett Mar 12 '13 at 19:35

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think winning an excessive number of times get you thrown out of a casino. And the casino will then try to find "good" reasons like card counting or whatever dodgy moves you made. If splitting tens is one of them, and you placed a high bet and you won a lot, then certainly the casino will use that to support their claim. If you just split tens and then lose, I don't think the casino will throw you out. :)

I think the unwritten rules that you mention are a set of heuristics that the casino uses to decide whether or not you are suspicious. More or less like a spamfilter deciding whether an email message is spam or not. Some actions make you more suspicious and once you go over a threshold the alarm bells start ringing. Of course the number one alarm bell would be the fact that you are winning, but I can imagine that a persistent ten-splitter might eventually become suspicious for being "out-of-the-ordinary". I just don't think the casino will chuck you out as long as you don't win too much.

Regarding your card counter's book. In the end (s)he is a card counter, so if the casino chucked them out for splitting tens perhaps (s)he had been doing other moves in line with being a card counter inherently, and has, perhaps without knowing, made several other alarm bells ring already. Maybe the splitting of the tens was "the straw that broke the camel's back"

As far as my knowledge reaches regarding Blackjack, I believe in order to split tens they need to be the same denomination. So a Jack and a King cannot be split.

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I consider your answer "warm." My understanding is that the casino will first look to see if someone is winning. If he is, then they'll make an evaluation of his play; is he "lucky" (a tourist) who is playing "randomly" or is he "doing something" (cheating or card counter). But I once read a card counter's book that opined that you could get thrown out just for breaking "unwritten rules" like by splitting tens. After all, if you break those "rules," you may also break the "unwritten rules" against card counting. –  Tom Au Mar 12 '13 at 22:27
    
I think the unwritten rules that you mention are a set of heuristics that the casino uses to decide whether or not you are suspicious. More or less like a spamfilter deciding whether an email message is spam or not. Some actions make you more suspicious and once you go over a threshold the alarm bells start ringing. Of course the number one alarm bell would be the fact that you are winning, but I can imagine that a persistent ten-splitter might eventually become suspicious for being "out-of-the-ordinary". I just don't think the casino will chuck you out as long as you don't win too much. –  Bazzz Mar 13 '13 at 9:08
    
Regarding your card counter's book. In the end (s)he is a card counter, so if the casino chucked them out for splitting tens perhaps (s)he had been doing other moves in line with being a card counter inherently, and has, perhaps without knowing, made sever other alarm bells ring already. Maybe the splitting of the tens was "the straw that broke the camel's back" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_that_broke_the_camel's_back –  Bazzz Mar 13 '13 at 9:12
    
I accepted your answer based on your comments (not on the original answer). So I've taken the liberty of attaching your comments to the answer. You delete the comments if your wish. (Unless you prefer to leave them in and "roll back" the answer to the original.) –  Tom Au Mar 13 '13 at 20:48
    
Perfect. I'm fine with the current state of the answer. I also prefer to leave the comments the way they are, so it is visible how the answer came to be. –  Bazzz Mar 14 '13 at 8:13

Casinos are much like any other business; if they want, they can tell you that you are no longer welcome for any reason, or no reason at all. There are some exceptions, primarily the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prevents "places of public accomodation" (basically any property that welcomes the average Joe coming in off the street) from refusing service based on protected statuses such as race, color, creed, etc, but casinos can, and often do, throw someone out just because they were a little too lucky.

In this particular case, playing in a way that disrupts the normal flow of the table, such as not playing according to basic strategy, can distract other players, diminishing their experience. That alone is plenty good reason for a pit boss to come over and invite you to play another game, or to ask you to leave altogether.

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Like other executives, dealers, pit bosses, and "floor (wo)men" in casinos are concerned about "career risk." This could occur if they lose too much money to the "public" for the casino. Hence the concern about card counters, who will "make money" off the casino (or at least have a positive "expectation.")

In the example of the person who drew a three to 18 against the dealer's 20, the casino clearly lost money. Hence its executives investigated why it happened. The answer was different from what they expected. Apparently, the player was not card counting. Nor was he running the usual cheat (bribing the dealer to tip him off). Questioning established that the two did not know each other before that day. And the player identified the inadvertent "tell," smugness, that the casino executives had also observed, but did not appreciate the meaning of.) So the dealer was sternly warned to "tighten up" his body language. He did, and all was well. Nowadays, dealers are not allowed to peek at their hole cards before all the players have played and they play, so they won't have these tells. (An electronic buzzer will alert them to the fact that they have a Blackjack, the identification of which was their rationale for peeking.)

Would casino personnel throw out people on "suspicion?" That's a gray area. "Splitting tens" is either a very bad play or (occasionally) a very good play. In any event, it is "sophisticated," which is something that the casino personnel don't like.

After the publication of Ben Mezrich's "Bringing Down the House," about card counters from MIT, casinos reportedly hired detectives to round up MIT yearbooks and otherwise spy on incoming classes of MIT students. That's not an established fact, but it does illustrate how antsy some casino executives might get. Would they throw out someone for admitting to being a math or computer science major, and hence a potential card counter? Who knows? Unfortunately, those facts alone might meet some people's definition of "skilled player."

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