Cheating Online and Off
Opinions differ about what constitutes cheating in blackjack. Counting cards doesn’t break any laws, and it doesn’t break any specific rules to the game, but Las Vegas casinos will label you a cheater and bar you from their premises if they suspect that you’re counting cards.
Basic strategy isn’t considered dishonest. Casinos will even let players use a printed card with strategy advice on it while they play. It seems odd that using a piece of paper to aid your playing decisions isn’t breaking the rules, but thinking about how much to bet and how to play each hand is considered dishonest. That’s all card counting is, in the final analysis–it’s just thinking.
Some methods of gaining an advantage inspire no disagreement. Colluding with a dealer to rig the game is dishonest and illegal. Marking cards is clearly illegal, too–you’re modifying the equipment with which the game is played in order to get an edge over the house.
In online games, card counting doesn’t matter. The deck is shuffled every hand. Internet casinos are more concerned with players exploiting their signup bonus programs in order to gain an advantage.
Abusing Online Casino Bonuses
Most online casino sites have welcome bonuses. Sometimes these can be abused in such a way as to guarantee a player profit. Internet casinos hate bonus abuse. Most have language in their terms and conditions that allow the site to reject your winnings and boot you off the site if you’re suspected of abusing their bonus program.
Here’s an example of how a bonus abuser might profit. Suppose a site offers a $200 bonus when a player deposits $200. The player has a bankroll of $400. Most casinos have a playthrough requirement. Suppose this player has to wager his deposit + bonus 10 times before cashing out. That means he’d have to put $4,000 into action before being able to withdraw.
A bonus abuser would take this initial stake and play perfect basic strategy, giving the casino a 1% edge.The player bets exactly $4,000, broken up into the smallest wager size possible, so that the results get as close to the statistical average as possible.
Assuming that the player gets close to the statistical average, he’ll lose 1% of that $4000, or $40. That leaves the player with $360. Even though he’s lost $40 at the tables, he’s ahead by $160, and if he cashes out, the casino loses money even though the player lost money.
A $160 profit on a $200 investment isn’t bad, but most casinos disallow games besides slot machines from their wagering requirements. They also institute playthrough requirements that are high enough to eliminate the possibility of profiting from these kinds of welcome promotions.
How to Cheat and Why You Shouldn’t
There’s an old saying. Cheaters never win. That’s true of gamblers as well as people engaged in other endeavors.
One way to cheat would be to sneak another player’s chips when she’s not looking. Would you ever do such a thing? If not, then why would you consider other methods? Dishonest is dishonest, after all. And if you get caught swiping chips? Off to jail you go.
Card mechanics can palm cards and replace them with other cards, but that’s a skill that takes hundreds of hours to learn well enough to pull off at a casino. Even then, the tiniest error will probably result in a trip to the local jail.
In fact, in states with legal gambling, any modification or manipulation of the game’s equipment is illegal. You can go to jail for it.
Counting cards is legal, honest, and ethical. You’re just playing the game to the best of your ability. Casinos hate it, but that doesn’t make it wrong.
Stealing, lying, and cheating aren’t good for you. It damages your soul. Stick to honest ways of getting an edge over the house, and you can sleep better at night, and you don’t have to worry about going to jail.