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How do Casinos Catch Card Counters?

The art of card counting has been featured in countless films, series and documentaries, and is a strategy usually used for casino games to determine whether or not the next available hand is likely to give a more probable advantage to either the player or the dealer. The act itself isn’t illegal anywhere, as it can simply be seen as a tactic used by incredibly skillful players, however applications and devices used to count cards are generally illegal in most places. Although no laws are technically broken whilst counting cards, Casinos are well within their rights to ban players and keep track of those who do take part in card counting.

Casinos have a fairly clear idea of who and who isn’t trying to bend the rules, and will employ certain techniques to avoid an unfair advantage. One of these techniques is distraction, where somebody will be sent to distract and divert your attention away from your count. This could be in the form of a distraction at the table, or simply a conversation, whether it be by the dealer or by someone else. If a member of the staff thinks a player is counting cards, they will radio a member of the security, who will point the “eye in the sky” towards the player to track and take notes on the way they play. The “eye in the sky” refers to a pan–tilt–zoom camera, or a PTZ, which is covered by a partially obscured plastic globe, that makes it almost impossible to properly see which direction the camera is facing from far away.

Certain American jurisdictions such as Nevada have no legal restrictions placed on any form of countermeasures against players, whereas others such as New Jersey limit the level of measures taken against a skilled player. In the past, casinos would occasionally resort to less pleasant methods to deter card counters such as the physical removal of players, however the need to maintain a positive public image and the likelihood of legal action turn casinos in most countries away from such tactics.

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