What Are Some Ways People Try To Cheat in Blackjack?


Blackjack has one crucial advantage when it comes to ranking all the casino games. It is both easy and profitable. You see, there are generally two categories of casino games. First, there are games like poker. It is quite complex and very difficult to get into properly – let alone master. But as a tradeoff, it has an extremely low house edge. If you are good enough at poker, you could even make a sustainable living out of it. 

On the other end of the spectrum, there are slot games. They are dirt easy, in that you do not actually have to use your head to win. But you win very seldom, because they have an innate bias to favour the house by a large margin. Blackjack is the best of both worlds – it has one of the lowest house edges, and the broad appeal of accessibility. Naturally, these two points also make them a prime target for scammers and grifters in the casino parlor. In fact, it can be quite interesting to look at the specific ways they try to get away with cheating. 

Is Consulting A Guidebook Cheating?

This is a major question many people might have had at one point of their blackjack venture. The short answer is no. Casinos tend not to have any specific rules against consulting with a guide. A player could take the counsel of a friend sitting at the blackjack table. In most cases, the casino will not interfere unless you win unnaturally often. So guidebooks, which work in a very similar fashion, would not be illegal per se. However, it could go against casino etiquette to peek at a book. On the other hand, online blackjack games do not have a way of monitoring whether you are watching a strategy guide on another browser tab. So you are free to consult whatever strategy guide you want – there is no ‘cheating’ in it.

Collusion With The Dealer

People sometimes throw around concepts like other players at the table ‘mucking up the shoe’. But when you get down to it, blackjack is a showdown between the dealer’s hand and yours. In that case, the most obvious way to cheat is to eliminate the opposition. There have been cases of players in cahoots with a dealer and splitting the winnings. However, these cases are also very rare. The casino knows that things would fall apart easily if the dealer were to secretly work for the player. In the biggest casinos, the dealers enjoy a handsome salary package with the benefit of tips. Surely, that alone dissuades them from cheating on behalf of players. And if that were not enough, it is a first degree cheating felony in many states and countries. All in all, this is probably the rarest form of cheating. 

Exploiting The Game To Gain Crucial Knowlege

This is actually the most classic form of cheating. It is the grifters’ favourite, after all. A lot of the dealer’s advantage in blackjack stems from the fact that the dealer draws after the player has chosen his hand. If you were to know what the dealer’s hole card is, the game would become much easier for you. In fact, you would win the majority of all games. The successful cheating method, therefore, is all about gaining that hidden knowledge. There are not a bazillion ways to pull this off. The casino will always strap the whole place with different security measures. There are cameras all around. If someone wins too much in a game, they become a suspect – and the house sends professional sentries after them. But ever so creative, scammers can sometimes still find a way through it all.

A good example of this is present in a Scorcese classic aptly named Casino (1995). In it, two grifters work in tandem. They spot a ‘weak’ dealer, i.e. one who hoists his hole card up too high. The scammer’s partner  finds a good angle to peek at it from another table, and signals the scammer whether to hit or stand. Of course, in classic Scorcese mob flick fashion, one of them ends up with a broken palm soon afterwards – but that is besides the point. 

Finally, the most common way people try to cheat is simply by lying. It all boils down to adjusting your demand after the outcome of the game. At worst, this is just a knee-jerk reaction to close calls from greedy individuals. You could claim that you wanted to stand after you hit and bust. Or you could claim that you meant to split after your third card is an ace – and so on. Doubtless, these methods never work. Ideally, you should opt for more legal exploits, i.e. card counting.

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