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Card Counting with Devices – Is It Worth the Drama?

Card counting systems can be quite complicated, requiring the player to track several ranges of values or maintain a side count while keeping up with the true count, which may need to be calculated repeatedly. While perched on uncomfortable stools for long hours and resisting the temptation of free watered-down cocktails or piss-poor beer, you might be forgiven for considering the use of hidden devices as an easier alternative.

Card Counting: Unfettered Excitement or Not So Much

I'm a terrible card counter.

I can follow the count just fine, and I can stay on top of true count and even a couple of side counts if I practice, but my biggest problem is/was boredom. After an hour at the blackjack table, my main concern was the questionable life choices that led to that moment rather than the contents and quality of the dealer's shoe. Some playing shifts lasted many hours without hitting a strong count - which could be thrilling - but any money won was rarely worth my time since my personal playing bankroll was too small to support a large spread (the difference between a small bet and a large bet) or weather the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Later, when playing with a professional team, my boredom only multiplied as hours got longer and wins were collected by other players while I bet the minimum and played basic (boring) blackjack.

As a team with a wealthy backer, we had deeper pockets and could win much more than I ever could as a solo player plus, it was easier to hide since the people doing the actual card counting (like me) were never taking advantage of the count; instead, a "big player" roamed the casino, apparently making random bets but actually following the best count at multiple tables and only risking money when he/we had an advantage.

It may sound exciting or fun but trust me, it drags for hours, and one's mental acuity soon begins to wane as interest and enthusiasm fade. It doesn't take long for a card counter to wonder how much easier it might be to use a concealed device that could take over the mental part of the job to secure a positive edge against the house.

How much simpler would life be if we could just hit some keys and wait for the result?

Card Counting Devices and the Risk of Getting Caught

Hidden computers and gaming devices can do many things, but they rarely simplify the process of advantage play. They introduce a greater risk of prosecution, increase the danger of being caught, and require constant attention and frequent maintenance to be effective.

Imagine a pair of cowboy boots, secretly loaded with batteries and toe switches inside each boot and wired to a 1970's-era motherboard taped to the player's back alongside another bank of batteries. While playing, the counter simply pressed buttons with his toes inside each boot, with one side being for high cards, the other for low cards, and kept entering data until the computer vibrated a buzzer taped to the player's ass.

This simple card counting solution won a lot of money and helped conceal the actions of professional card counters, but eventually, the technology fell into the hands of less thoughtful players who rushed to their local casino without taking the time to "work out the kinks" created by this type of device.

As it turned out, pressing a tiny button with your toes inside a cowboy boot might be invisible at first, but after a few hours, the constant input required would amplify muscle action being used to motivate each toe until several players were caught red-handed (footed) after security noticed them apparently dancing on their stool, completely unaware they were doing it!

Worse still were the stories of players who discovered that the batteries required for these devices could leak, and as one security expert told me, battery acid pouring down your back and into the crack of your ass will create one hell of a tell for dealers, managers, and security!

More sophisticated input methods evolved over time, and with a little imagination, you might come to recognize many ways of passing information to a concealed (or remote) device that might seem natural or even invisible to those around you.

But there's more to it.

Modern devices come in different forms, and I'm not at liberty to reveal the latest technology being used (though my information is probably six months out of date by the time I hear about it), but each new generation of playing device brings as many new potential problems as they do advantages to those smart enough (or stupid enough) to employ them.

The truth is that any device strategy will bring many new considerations, and smart players will soon find themselves wondering if they weren't better off counting cards the old-fashioned way since, for most players, good old mental arithmetic can be both reliable and effective. And safer.

The Smartest Play

Many teams have learned that devices of all kinds - no matter how ingenious they might first seem - are just more trouble than they're worth, and like so many things in life, the line between amateurs and professionals in terms of card counting or advantage play comes down to practice, determination, and perseverance whether using concealed computers or not.

I've been fortunate to talk with both device players and advanced card counters who share the distinction that they seem to have considered every possibility and weighed every outcome of making an informed, calculated decision about any risks worth taking.

Ultimately, the smartest play is to be able to count and calculate without any outside aids whatsoever and develop strategies to use that information without getting caught. That being said, if a device were to increase both a players' edge and their bankroll, the increased risk and operating requirements may be worth the potential reward.

What amazes (and shocks) me is that many people who buy concealed computers or bespoke software and actually make it to the blackjack table make no more money than they would if they simply mastered a good counting system. Supposedly the human brain is vastly superior to any physical device, but in some cases, perhaps we should make an exception.

In the end, it all comes back to practice, talent and motivation.

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