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Can Live Online Blackjack Be Beaten by Counting Cards or any other Advantage-Play Technique?

By: Richard Marcus
The advantage play differs between real blackjack and live online blackjack.

The advantage play differs between real blackjack and live online blackjack.

For a half-century now we’ve known that the other version of “live blackjack,” the one played in real brick and mortar casinos with real dealers in the flesh and not streamed ones, is extremely vulnerable to card-counting and various other forms of play that give the blackjack player an advantage against the house.

Besides card-counting, the most popular methods of advantage-play are shuffle-tracking, ace-tracking and steering, hole-carding, and most recently edge-sorting.

All these methods take advantage of faults relating to the dealer or the equipment used in the game, mainly the cards.

A typical blackjack-dealer fault would be giving off a “tell” when peaking underneath an ace to see if the hole-card is a ten-value card that would make blackjack. Many dealers present physical manifestations, some as minute as a slight facial twitch, that may indicate whether the hold-card is good for a pat hand or that a hit is needed.

Another dealer fault might be insufficient card shuffling.

Faults relating to the equipment are most common with the cards.

When they become worn, their back designs at the edges tend to discolor just enough for sharp players to notice the difference from other cards. Being able to read compromised card-backs and use that information for betting and strategy purposes is called edge-sorting, and it has become a very effective way for advantage players to make money in brick and mortar casinos.

But what about live online blackjack? Can these same advantage plays work?

At first glance, you would think there are some card-counting and advantage-play opportunities in the live online blackjack world. That’s because the game itself is dealt by a real dealer on a real table using real cards and a dealing shoe, in spite of the betting and pay-offs still being handled by online software.

So can you count cards playing live blackjack?

Yes, you can use whatever card-counting method you choose and apply it just as you would in brick and mortar casinos. But unfortunately, practically all live online blackjack games have its dealers dealing 50%–or less–of the cards in the shoe, which makes it very difficult to ever obtain a meaningful card-counting advantage.

So unless you can find a live online casino with a game out there with a dealer dealing much deeper into the deck, you might as well forget counting the cards.

But can you shuffle-track and follow clumps of tens mixed in with aces at the live online blackjack table?

You can do that too, but unfortunately another systematic problem prevents you from doing that with any promise of financial gain: some live online blackjack games are replacing card shoes that have just been dealt with other card shoes loaded with cards that have been shuffled off camera. Other games shuffle the cards with the proper steps to nullify tracking.

And even if such were not the case, you would still not be able to cut and steer cards to your upcoming hands at the top of a new shoe.

And as far as those dealer “tells” go…I don’t think they will tell you much.

Bottom Line

Trying to count the cards or initiate any other form of advantage-play on live online blackjack tables is a waste of time.

Don’t believe the stuff you read that says otherwise.

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