Should you use a team for card counting?

If you’re a fan of blackjack then you’ll no doubt have come across card counting. This is a technique that is used by some of the very best players around and it greatly enhances their chances of a win. While the game may have one of the lowest house edges around, blackjack pros do all that they can to keep this down, or even to lower it. Card counting puts the odds in the player’s favour. What about joining a team for card counting? 

While card counting is perfectly legal, as we shall see, some players have run into a few problems when employing this technique. That is exactly why the concept of using a team was created. If you want to know where the concept came from, how it works, and if you should be doing it, then keep on reading.

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Team for counting cards

The birth of card counting teams

Frank Schipani is the pseudonym for Al Francesco and is a name well known in blackjack circles. In the 1960s he was winning impressive sums playing blackjack all while using card counting to his advantage. The wins kept coming but then the casino realised what was going on. This led to him being banned from casinos far and wide. He needed a new way to use card counting to keep his winning ways going and this is when he came up with the idea of card counting teams.

Much of what Francesco was doing was exposed by a team member in a book. This could have brought it all to an end, but Francesco carried on training teams and making money for years to come. It is Francesco who inspired the likes of the MIT team and numerous other teams that came after. His accomplishments saw him being inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame.

How do card counting teams operate?

There are various setups and ways of working when it comes to blackjack card counting teams. Perhaps one of the most popular is:

  • Blackjack players who excel at card counting decide to get together and make a team. They agree on the bankroll and all put in a share
  • Spotters are employed at different tables within a casino. Their job is to make minimum bets but to also keep the count
  • The spotter sees when the count has become favourable. At this point, they use a sign to alert the person known as the Big Player (BP) to join the game and to start placing large bets
  • When the count becomes less favourable, the spotter lets the BP know and the BP leaves the game
  • The BP then waits for another spotter to signal that there is a game that they need to join

This may not be exactly how every team operates, but it gives you a good flavour of what’s involved.

Why use a card counting team?

The reason for using a card counting team is no different to the reason that Francesco introduced the concept. The fact is that going solo as a card counter is a risky business. It doesn’t take long for a casino to realise what is going on and you’re quickly forced to leave. In time, you’re left with fewer and fewer casinos to play at.

Using a team means that the BP is shielded by the spotters. No one has any idea that the BP is involved with card counting and so they’re left to play completely undetected.

Using a card counting team also leads to bigger profits per hour. This is mainly because the BP is all set to make huge bets when the timing is right. There is also the opportunity to play far more hands per hour when there is a team involved. 

How to manage a card-counting team

With such clear benefits, you may be tempted to explore a card counting team of your own. If you do, you need to be clear on the fact that it takes an exceptionally strong manager who can take care of duties such as:

  • Establishing a team and ensuring that every member is fully trained
  • Deciding on the level of bankroll
  • Keeping track of expenses 
  • Leading team meetings
  • Getting the best out of team members
  • Bringing in outside investors 
  • Deciding on the payouts that team members receive 
  • Deciding on how many spotters are needed for each BP
  • Choosing the casinos to play at

The need for investors

No doubt in the list above you’ll have spotted that we said that there is a need to bring in outside investors. The reason for this is that you want the biggest possible bankroll before you start to play. Investors are more than happy to put their money into the right team but they expect a hefty return on their investment.

An increased bankroll means bigger profits. However, before you start to play with other people’s money, you need to be sure that you and your team can deliver. Losing your investor’s funds will not go down well and you certainly won’t be able to secure any future investments.

Do card counting teams always succeed?

A properly run card counting team has the potential to earn big money. However, there are plenty of teams that fall flat on their faces and it’s usually down to reasons such as:

  • A poor leader
  • Becoming blasé about team members and not constantly testing them 
  • A lack of trust amongst the team
  • Failing to get an investor on board and so starting with a small bankroll
  • Mistakes made in the counting
  • Team members with bad habits such as alcohol or drugs
  • A failure to stick to the system

Final thoughts

Being surrounded by a card-counting team can certainly lead to big winnings and an extremely healthy bankroll. However, establishing and maintaining, the right team is no easy task. If you get any part of this wrong then your endeavour will end in disaster. So, yes a card-counting team is a great route to explore but you need to put in the work before you can reap the rewards. 

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