Card Counting - How Much Can You Make

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Your Citation
Moe, Al. "Card Counting - How Much Can You Make." ThoughtCo, Feb. 5, 2017, Moe, Al. (2017, February 5). Card Counting - How Much Can You Make. Retrieved from Moe, Al. "Card Counting - How Much Can You Make." ThoughtCo. (accessed September 23, 2017).
Las Vegas blackjack table
By Antoine Taveneaux (Own work) [ CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

How much can you profit from counting cards is a question many casual blackjack players have. Not everybody is cut out for learning blackjack and counting cards in the same way that not everybody can learn to drive, learn to paint, or learn to hit a baseball. However, if you can concentrate, commit the basic strategy rules for standard blackjack to memory, and keep a running count in your head, you may have what it takes to play blackjack for profit.

The big question on every player's mind is, of course,​ how much can they earn. In a nutshell, card counting allows the player to memorize a number of variables from the current condition of a deck of cards, or a whole shoe of cards, and make play and betting decisions based on that information.

If a player learns a simple count and gets favorable house rules for blackjack, their earn rate might be as high as three-quarters of a percent per 100 hands played. The win rate is based on the total number of hands played and the total amount bet.

Calculating Win Rate

A speedy blackjack dealer can deal out 400 hands per hour. If you play on a table with two other players, you will receive 100 hands per hour. You need a minimum spread (the difference between your lowest bet and your highest best) of 1-4 units and a desirable spread of 1-7 units. You bet the least when the deck is negative, or in the house's favor, and the most when the deck is heavily in the player's favor - all the while trying to act like a novice and not get barred from playing the game.

(Hands played) times (average bet) times (player edge) equals (win rate)

If you get 100 hands per hour and average $25 per bet you will make a total of $2500 per hour in wagers, which you multiply by your .75 (.0075) of a percent edge to arrive at $18.75, expected income. This can be achieved with an average off-the-top bet of $10 and a maximum bet of $70.

If you make a $1 tip every 15 minutes and pay $1 for a soda from the cocktail waitress each hour, you can expect to maintain a steady win rate of about $15 per hour over the long run.

Keep in mind that the long run is all of your play. If you make more than a couple mistakes per hour, don't get good deck penetration, and don't get a good spread for your bets, you won't make this much. And, your variance is going to be significant because you have such a tiny edge on the house. To keep from losing your bankroll, start with a minimum of 200 times your upper bet. If you bet $10 to $70, you need $2800 to be comfortable.

Make More Money

Can you expect to make even more money? Sure. If you get more hands per hour your income potential goes up. Get 150 hands instead of 100 and your income goes from $15 to $22.50 If you make bets from $25 to $175 and maintain 100 hands per hour, your income potential goes up to about $40 per hour. Get 150 hands at that formula and your income potential is closer to $60 per hour.