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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, and his latest, Advantage Play For The Casino Executive (the latter is available in our store at 12% discount. Click here for details).


One of the most frequently asked questions that I receive as a gaming consultant deals with how to identify card counters. Iím not only a seasoned casino executive, but also an ex-card counter, so I get plenty of e-mails from casino supervisors and surveillance operators about the best methods they can employ to handle players who are counting cards. Many casino operators want to know how to spot the counters. Others want to know the different degree of specific observations they must make before they can either reject or confirm that the fact the player under observation has a long-term card counting advantage over the casino.

Advice of this nature is hard to impart to someone in a concise format. There are a number of variables that need to be considered before baselines can be drawn that can be used to determine a customerís level of card playing ability. One important factor I always stress; always be certain that a person possesses the abilities necessary to gain a long-term mathematical edge over the game of blackjack. Do not act on a hunch. If it is your intention to back a player off the game of blackjack, and you are not 100% sure the person is a threat to your bankroll, you may be chasing away a potentially good customer worth thousands of dollars to your casino in future blackjack play.

Following are a few card counting factors that I look for in a suspicious player. Each area needs to be understood, and used to some degree, when making a decision on how to handle the observed player. Remember, itís far easier to determine that a person is not a card counter, than it is to confirm that they are.

Bet Spread Correlation with True Count

You need to observe a close correlation between...

Specific Play Decisions

The professional level counter has to deviate from...

Watch Betting and Playing Strategies in both High Plus and Minus Counts

The supervisor or operator needs to see a suspected customerís...

Determine Long-term Loss Value

As the Director of Casino Operations at the old Aladdin Hotel/Casino, I implemented a rule that we would not...

Making the Tough Decision: Restriction or Ejection

I canít stress enough the fact that you have to be 100% sure...

Let me mention one more point. I donít believe in utilizing...

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