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Legal Or Not, Card Counting Is Not Appreciated at Las Vegas Casinos

Film director and actor Ben Affleck likes to gamble. Blackjack is said to be one his favorite table games.

The one problem, according to the Hard Rock Casino, is Affleck counts cards. Back in May, the off-Strip casino ejected him from the game.

Affleck told Details magazine, “I took some time to learn the game and became a decent blackjack player. And once I became decent, the casinos asked me not to play blackjack.”

Now, let’s get something straight, Nevada law says that card counting is perfectly legal. And it’s perfectly legal for casinos to bar apparent counters from their tables.

Willy Allison with World Gaming Protection told KNPR's State of Nevada using card counting can give a player about a 1 percent edge over the house. It doesn't seem like a lot but over time it can add up. 

"Getting away with it is the key," Allison said.

Allison said most casinos have in-house training to spot advantage players like card counters. Casino employers are taught to look for 'tells' and how a player spreads out bets, both of which can point to card counting. 

Card counting used to be just a small cottage industry but now there are a lot more people doing it. A simple search will bring up dozens of videos on YouTube reportedly showing people how to count cards and there are even card counting apps that a player can download onto his phone. 

Professional gambler Ross Miller has filed a lawsuit against Planet Hollywood for detaining him and taking casino chips, when they found him counting cards June 2013.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported:

Miller, 28, said card counters and other advantage players are not cheaters, but casinos often treat them as such. Card counting is simply a “playing strategy,” he said.

Former casino manager at the Aladdin Hotel-Casino Bill Zender told KNPR's State of Nevada that in the 70s and 80s casino security would drag card counters to the casino cage have them cash out and then drag them outside. 

That is not what security does now. Instead, players who are caught counting cards are asked not to play 21 any more. 

Zender actually dealt with one of the teams from MIT that were counting cards. The team was depicted in the film "21."

He said the team he dealt with got away with $50,000, but they should have only won$5,0oo.

"They just got really lucky," Zender said. "You don't have to be a genius to count cards, but they had backing."   

Zender said there are really only about 100 people around the world who can count cards well enough to actually hurt a casino. 

“Anybody who is bright or brave enough to go out and count cards. They’re getting lured away to other advantage play like hole carding,” Zender said.

Hole carding is gaining an advantage by knowing the card hidden by the dealer. 

Security experts say casinos that are struggling with debt and players wanting to earn more comps have both the bettor and the house keeping a closer eye on advantage play.


Willy Allison, World Gaming Protection

Bill Zender, former casino manager at the Aladdin Hotel-Casino
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