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by Bill Zender

Bill Zender is a former Nevada Gaming Control Agent, a casino owner and operator (Aladdin Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas), professional card counter, and presently a gaming consulting to casinos. During his career, Zender has instructed courses at various colleges and institutions on game protection, card counting, advantage play, and gaming operations. He had written five non-fiction books on gaming including Pai Gow Without Tears, Pai Gow Poker-Understanding Strategy & Procedures, Card Counting for the Casino Executive, How to Detect Casino Cheating in Blackjack, Advantage Play For The Casino Executive, and his new book, Casino-ology (the latter is available in our store, discounted for BJI members. Click here to order and for details).


Ever since Dr. Ed Thorpe released his findings on the potential exploitation of the casino game of blackjack in his classic book "Beat the Dealer" (1962), casino executives have been devising methods and techniques to ward-off this overly exaggerated and highly misunderstood threat to their casinoís blackjack bankroll. Following are a list of different techniques that casino executives have been known to use when they suspect, but canít confirm, that one of their customers is counting cards.

Cutting off more cards

This is probably the most common form of card counter counter-measure. When the casino suspects a customer is counting, they may opt to have the dealer move the cut card farther forward in the deck or shoe (i.e. make the penetration less favorable for a card counter). This is accomplished during the shuffle and cut process. I refer to this technique as a "reactionary" tactic. On many occasions Iíve heard a pit or shift manager exclaim, "Letís see what he does once the deck is cut in half." The executive issuing the procedure change understands that fewer cards dealt means less opportunities for a card counter to ply his trade. If the person is truly a card counter, this move will cause a reaction from the counter, such as changing his betting pattern or leaving the game.

Shuffling early

Several casinos Iíve worked for in the past had a system for communicating specific information to the dealer on a table. This signal alerts the dealer that a possible card counter is on their game, and they must immediately "break" the deck or shoe for shuffling. Based on playing or betting patterns, or the fact that the blackjack customer is winning, the floor supervisor would approach the dealer from behind and discretely "kick" the back of the dealerís heel. When the dealer broke the deck to shuffle, the casino executive would look for a reaction from the suspected player. Just like the previously described card counter counter-measure, the executive will expect the alleged card counter to change his betting pattern or terminate play. This is also known as preferential shuffling, and has a number of different applications.

Dealing in "the blind"

Flat betting

Barring a customer from playing blackjack

Note: Weíve added Zenderís new book to our online store. Click here to order and for details.

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