Whatever Happened to Fair Play?

Most people like to play fair, but when it comes to blackjack there are many who disagree as to what constitutes as fair. Casinos will try to convince you that card counting is wrong and warrants suspensions and dismissals for those who practice it, but many players think differently. Card counting to most is an innocent trick, like reading the form book for greyhound racing, checking the team news for a football game or even reading your opponent in a poker game, but the casinos don’t like losing and card counting is one of the only ways in which they will consistently lose. Card counting isn’t the only way to “cheat” at blackjack though, and blackjack cheats are are old as the game of blackjack itself.

We obviously do not endorse any of these methods, like many blackjack players we see nothing wrong with card counting, but the same can not be said for the techniques that follow. These techniques are all highly illegal and can get you serious jail time, but by reading about them we hope to help you spot the cheats and the players who don’t play fair.

Deck Switches

One of the easiest ways to ensure that you have a signifiant edge over the house is to preload the decks and then swap those decks with the ones used by the dealer. One of the most common ways that this method is achieved is by getting the dealer involved in the scam, because when the dealer is involved then the scammers only have to hide their trickery from the cameras and other casino staff, whereas without them they would have to do it under the nose of the dealer.

These days this technique is very rarely employed and pretty much stopped when sophisticated cameras were introduced, but it is still possible and has been known to be used at smaller venues with less sophisticated surveillance equipment. When the dealer is not involved the trick typically involves several people, with the majority creating a distraction whilst one makes the switch.

Chip Switches

Another sleight of hand trick involves switching the chips during the hand. If a player senses a losing hand then they can use some distraction techniques and some sleight of hand to take away some of the chips from their stack. Those who are quick, skilled and brazen enough simply cover the chips with their cards and then palm some of them. This trick is also used to add extra chips to winning hands and is often employed when the dealer is not paying compete attention or when they are in on the scam. In full table games, with 5 or 6 other players, it can be difficult for the dealer to keep an eye on every player, which is what makes this trick credible.

Card Marking and Card Showing

Along with switched decks, marked decks have also been employed. This requires the dealer to be in on it and is very rarely used in modern casinos as pit bosses and surveillance teams have become very wise to these methods. If the dealer is also part of the scam then they have been known to use sleight of hand and practiced techniques to flash the cards to the player before dealing.

Switching the Split

One of the most bold techniques that cheaters have used is employed during a “split”, where the blackjack hand is split into two and the player effectively plays two hands at once. The player palms one of the cards from one hand and moves it to the other. This requires a lot of skill and speed and also relies on the dealer paying little attention, but this is a near-impossible trick to pull off.

High Tech

To combat the use of high tech equipment in the casinos the cheats are also bringing technology into play. Wireless devices have been known to be used, but these days casinos often check the local frequencies to find those that are colluding or passing on information. It also helps to stop teams of card counters who may try to stay in touch via the airwaves.

Overall, blackjack is a very difficult game to cheat, but that doesn’t mean that people won’t stop trying. Those with a simple understanding of the game and the ability to play to well can do enough to reduce the house’s advantage, and there are many blackjack players who have made a living from this game without any of these methods and without counting cards, so if the temptation strikes then try to remember that time spent learning the game is better than time spent learning how to cheat the game.