For reason discussed below, "card counters" make their money by observing the flow of cards as they leave the deck. This is legal in most cases (although it's a felony to use a "device" such as a computer in Nevada). It is frowned upon, probably because it violates an unwritten rule (the house is supposed to win).

Because the rules of the game (the deal plays after all the players), the casino will win the majority of the hands. But there are several offsetting rules that reduce the house edge to about 1%:

1) Players are paid 3-2 for blackjacks (more like 5-4 nowadays), unless the dealer also has a blackjack, in which case it's a tie.

2) The dealer has to "hit on 16, stand on 17." Players are free to make better decisions.

3) Players can "double down" in advantageous situations.

4) Players can "split" two equal cards if it is to their advantage, essentially doubling their bets, and getting two potential blackjacks for e.g. A-A.

Card counters do one more thing to tip the odds in their favor. There are rare situations (when a lot of small cards have come out of the deck, leaving a disproportionate number of ten valued cards). At such times, the game is actually in the player's favor ( 1) greater potential for blackjacks, and 2) greater potential for the dealer to bust.) Card counters will "bet big" at such times, and "bet small" at others. The bet size variations (typically 5- or 10- to 1, larger than that of a typical "tourist), help identify a card counter. If someone were to "flat bet" (bet the same on every hand), card counting probably would be useless.

Nevada casinos will typically bar (eject) or harass people identified as card counters. (Following a court case, Atlantic City casinos can't do this, but will merely "shuffle up" after every deal to eliminate the counter's advantage.)

IMHO, Nevada casinos shouldn't be allowed to do what they do, but should have the privilege of "money managment" available to every player. If casinos had the right to limit bet sizes, and more importantly, bet VARIATIONS to say 2-to-1, it would be roughly even money against the best card counters (and make money from a bunch of wannabees).

Is this a workable solution for the casino to not lose money at blackjack? Would this be "fair" to both the house and players?

  • Not sure of the question here. Are you asking that by making the maximum bet double the minimum bet, does this put the house/player at even odds all of the time, on average (most of the time), ... ? "Fair" only has one meaning here (on BG.SE), and it would mean even odds.
    – user1873
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 15:50
  • @user1873: That's basically what I meant. That is, my question is, if you can come up with a construct that gives "even odds, on average," is that a result that would satisfy SE's notions of social justice? Or put it another way, should this be a solution that should satisfy both players and the house (so they stop "going to war?")
    – Tom Au
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 16:44
  • One thing to remember people who count cards are doing it to get an advantage then anything that puts them at even odds with the casino will also put non card counters at a disadvantage. Personally there sound be no reason to ban a person from "counting cards" because all they are doing is using public knowledge. Though I do think that card counting teams are not in the spirit of the game.
    – Joe W
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 20:35
  • @JoeW: By "teams," you mean a "Big Player who has teammates spread all over the casino making minimum bets, and signalling him when and where to bet big, right? To fight this, casinos could have a rule than anyone joining a table after a new "shoe" has started can be limited to a minimum bet at the discretion of the casino.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 21:04
  • 1
    @JoeW Who said anything about cheaters? you mean the casinos who rig just about every game in their favor? Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 2:11

1 Answer 1


The answer to this is most likely no since a casino wants players to maximize their bets and placing any kind of limit that would keep a player betting lower would not be in their best interests. Minimum and Maximum bets at a table are established to maximize the amount that a casino can win while limiting a player to take advantage of long term odds to win by placing small and large bets over time. The short of it is a casino wants players to make larger bets when they are feeling lucky but they also know that a lot of players are not going to want to place large bets all of the time so they need to allow them to place both small and large bets depending on how they feeling their luck is running.

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