A common question that I get from gamblers is: “Can you win at blackjack without card counting?”. Much to their surprise the answer is yes. Here you will be able to learn how to play blackjack and win without counting cards. 

Here are two ways to win at blackjack without counting cards:

  • Method 1: Hole Carding. Identifying the what the dealers hole card and adjusting your strategy.  
  • Method 2: Front-Loading. Being able to identify what the next card will be and adjusting your strategy accordingly.

These methods yield a substantially higher advantage than traditional card counting methods, but the trade off is they require a lot more advance work. This includes scouting dealers, evaluating shuffles determining wager thresholds of the casino, as to not draw to much attention from pit bosses.

Prior to executing any of these four Advanced Blackjack methods the traditional protocol of advantage play still holds; mainly, to learn and execute Basic Strategy flawlessly and adhere to standard casino comportment. Now, let’s look at each of these methods a little more and give a brief introduction to what a good execution of these methods entails.  But before we do it’s worth noting that each of these methods have been determined to be legal by the Nevada State Supreme Court as well as several other jurisdictions around the world.

Blackjack Dealer Hole-Carding

METHOD 1: HOLE CARDING

This is the art of identifying the dealers’ unexposed card. Knowing the dealers down card gives the player an extraordinary advantage over the casino. The profits earned from hole-carding are so large and consistent that once the technique is perfected the player will not want to return to any other advantage gaming technique. When attacked optimally the hole carding strategy gives the player an advantage of approx 13.5%. Flat betting 100 dollar per hand the player can earn an overwhelming 1,350 dollars an hour when playing heads up against the dealers.

Finding an exploitable Hole Carding game is a tedious task and should be attempted in casino centric cities. This is because dealers are trained extensively on how to hide the hole card. However, after years of repetitive tasks dealers get complacent and develop bad habits. During the busy summer seasons hundreds of rookie dealers are brought in to handle the large tourist crowds. It is inevitable that some of the dealers will be susceptible to hole-carding players. Ken Uston in his book “Million Dollar Blackjack” he estimates that 1 in 200 dealers can be exploited. Every front hole-carder I have conversed with agrees with this assessment. The ratio of scouting time to playing time is about 12 hours of scouting for every 1 hour of playing.  There are scores of casinos in Las Vegas, and with 3 shifts per casino and hundreds of dealers per casino the opportunities are substantial. Any introduction would not be complete without noting strategy deviations required when the hole card is known. The charts below identify what the players play will be when the dealers total hole card is known.

 

Dealers Hand  Hit Until (hard hands) Hit Until (soft hands) DD hands Pair Splitting
Hard 20 20 20 - -
Hard 19 19 19 - 9
Hard 18 18 19 - 2,3,7,8,9*
Hard 17 17 18 - 2,3,6,7,8
Hard 14,15,16 12 18 5,6,7,8,9,10,11

A2,A3,A4,A5
All Pairs except 5s
Hard 13 12 18 7,8,9,10,11

A2-A9
All Pairs except 5s
Hard 12 12 18 8,9,10,11

A2-A9
All Pairs except 5s
Hard 11 15 18 - A
Hard 10 16 19 11 A*
Hard 9 17 19 10,11 A,8,9
Hard 8 17 18 10,11 A,7,8,9
Hard 7 17 18 10,11 A,2,3,7,8
Hard 6 12 18 9,10,11 A,2,3,6,7,8,9*
Hard 5 13 18 10,11,A2-A8 A,2,3,6,7,8,9
Hard 4 14 18 10,11,A6,A7 A,7,8
A9 20 20 - -
A8 19 19 - 9
A7 18 19 - 2,3,7,8,9
A6 17 18 - A,2,3,7,8
A5 13 18 9,10,11,A6,A7 A,2,3,6,7,8,9
A4 13 18 10,11 A,2,6,7,8,9
A3 14 18 10,11 A,7,8
A2 15 18 10,11 A,7,8
AA 16 18 11 A,8
* Indicates that the play varies by number of cards have the dealer has but can be ignored for simplicity and the variation does not alter the advantage significantly

METHOD 2: FRONT LOADING

Another advantageous without card counting technique is “Front Loading”. Front loading is the most lucrative legal maneuver in the Advantage Players arsenal. Front loading is when the dealer exposes the hole card while pulling the card out of the deck or when in the process of sliding the card underneath the top card. As one can surmise a Front Loader who deals from a hand held game offers the potential for seeing almost every hand. As a general rule front loading is best executed on women dealers, for the reason that women smaller hands and have trouble grasping a double deck hand held game.

There is an optimal mathematically derived strategy for front loading but there is no need cloud your mind with numbers, when it is pretty close to “If the next card doesn’t busts you hit, and if it does than stand”. It gets a little more complicated when you throw in double and split hands but for now the standard defined strategy holds.


FRONT LOADING  

An important aspect of these two plays is that they CANNOT be executed on every single hand that the advantage player plays. Anyone who believes they can is setting themselves up for failure. Even the most elite professional player misses about 20-25% of the hands dealt. But this still gives them an overwhelming edge in real money terms, especially when they have a firm grasp of basic strategy to base their missed hands on. A healthy edge can come from a 50% accurate viewing of the “hole-card” or the “front-loaded card”. There are more ways to beat blackjack without counting but these are the two most dependable that I know of.

Still prefer card counting? Use our Card Counting Trainer
About the Author
By

Nicholas is a 17 year veteran of the casino gaming industry. He is former player manager with the infamous MIT Blackjack teams and is a regular attendee of the Blackjack Ball, a gathering of the world’s top professional gamblers.

He is the Managing Director of the Alea Consulting Group, a leading gaming consultant company with a focus on gaming economics and, is a frequent contributor to world class business publications like Forbes and Entrepreneur magazines’ and over 15 gaming trade publications. He is also the founder of Casino Exploits a player centric casino gaming site.