Hole carding is one of the more popular ways to beat the casino. It involves trying to see the dealers face-down cards to gain an advantage.
Many hole carders head straight for the blackjack tables. After all, blackjack is a popular target among advantage players.
However, you can also use this technique in a variety of other casino games. I’ll cover more on hole carding, which games it applies to, and what edges it provides in each game.
How Does Hole Carding Work?
Several table games see the dealer receive hole cards. These face-down cards are supposed to be secrets until the dealer flips them over.
Therefore, you always have incomplete information with table games in the casino. Hole carding seeks to expose this info and give you a leg up on the house.
This technique calls on you to first find a dealer who routinely flashes their hole cards (a.k.a. “flasher”). Flashers are somewhat rare, but they do exist in the gaming world.
You’ll probably need to go through 200 dealers, on average, before finding a flasher. This process is painstaking and requires many hours. But when you do spot an experienced and/or poorly train dealer, the profits make your efforts worthwhile.
The next step involves figuring out where you should sit to see the dealer’s hole cards. Based on the game, certain seats give you a better vantage point of the face-down cards.
Here’s an example involving blackjack:
- You should sit in the first seat to the dealer’s left (first base) if they’re right-handed.
- They’ll peel the card up towards first base when peeking for a blackjack.
- You should sit in the first seat to the dealer’s right (third base) if they’re a lefty.
- They’ll peel the card up towards third base when checking for a blackjack.
Next, you need to sit in a manner that allows you to see cards without giving up your intentions. For instance, you might sit in a slouching manner that looks natural.
This posture doesn’t make it obvious that you’re trying to see the hole cards. Yet, it puts you more level with the table and offers a better opportunity to spot the values.
You can use any information gained to make better decisions. Assuming you’re able to see enough face-down cards, then you can earn consistent profits over time.
What Games Can You Beat Through Hole Carding?
One great thing about hole carding is that it can be applied to several games. Here are the various games that you can beat when using this strategy.
The dealer starts with one up-card and one face-down card when playing blackjack. Your mission is to figure out the value of the lone hole card.
You can do this either when the croupier pulls a card out of the shoe or when they check for a blackjack. The latter scenario is more feasible when considering that most dealers at least keep their cards down when drawing from the shoe.
In the best-case scenario, you can gain a 13% edge with blackjack hole carding. This is much better than the average advantage gained through card counting.
Caribbean Stud Poker
The dealer receives one up-card and four face-down cards in Caribbean Stud Poker. That said, you have up to four potential cards in each hand to monitor.
You stand to gain up to an 11% advantage in the perfect situation. Of course, you can still win plenty of money even with a lower edge.
Let It Ride
The dealer doesn’t receive any cards in Let It Ride. However, they do put two face-down community cards on the table after dealing you three hole cards.
This game presents another situation where you must spot the face-down card values as they come out of the shoe. Assuming you do this consistently enough with the first community card, you can gain up to an 8% advantage.
If you’re only able to see the second face-down card, you can enjoy as much as a 24% advantage. When you see both community cards, you’ll gain a whopping 40% edge!
Mississippi Stud Poker
Mississippi Stud Poker is the best potential game with regard to hole carding. You can hold up to a 50% advantage just by seeing the first face-down card alone.
Assuming you’re able to see the third hole card, then you can enjoy a 100% advantage over the casino. If you’re going to target a casino game with hole carding, then you should strongly consider checking out Mississippi Stud.
Three Card Poker
Three-Card Poker is the least advantageous game from a hole carding perspective. You only stand to get around a 3% edge when executing perfect strategy.
Of course, this advantage is still twice what you can expect from card counting. But it doesn’t quite match the amount of work that hole carding requires.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em
Ultimate Texas Hold’em works much like the version that you see on TV and livestreams. The key difference, though, is that you’re playing against the house rather than other players.
Each round starts with you and the dealer receiving two hole cards. The croupier also deals five community cards as the round progresses.
Therefore, you have plenty of chances to see face-down cards when playing this game. You can grab anywhere from a 20% to 35% advantage when doing so.
Which Game Should You Target?
You can see that hole carding can work well in many table games. Therefore, you can’t go wrong by fully mastering this technique and putting it into play anywhere.
The common tendency among players is to target the blackjack tables. They may feel comfortable with this game if they start out with card counting and have moved on to more-advanced strategies.
Therefore, you’re better off playing games that aren’t usual targets for advantage play. Let It Ride, Mississippi Stud, Three-Card Poker, and Ultimate Texas Hold’em fall into this category.
Wannabe professional gamblers don’t usually sit down to these tables when hoping to make money. Instead, they choose blackjack and, to a lesser extent, Caribbean stud.
I’m not saying that the casinos don’t watch all of the tables to some degree. However, they’re mainly focused on the most popular and beatable games.
Advantages of Hole Carding
The best thing about hole carding is that it can provide a huge advantage. You can gain anywhere between a 3% to 100% edge based on the game.
Many advantage players spend their time toiling away with card counting. But they only hold a 1% edge on average with this technique.
Hole carding truly rewards you for your time and effort. You can earn serious profits when finding a vulnerable dealer.
Another benefit to hole carding is that it’s harder to detect than counting cards. You don’t need to wait until the end of the shoe to raise bets like with card counting.
Instead, you merely rely on the information gained from errant hole cards. You can then make more profitable decisions afterward.
Drawbacks of Hole Carding
As the saying goes, if hole carding was easy, then everybody would be doing it. But they’re not!
This strategy isn’t something that you just casually walk into the casino and pull off. It requires scouting tables for countless hours until finding a bad dealer.
Only then do you get an opportunity to profit from your skills. The rest of the time, you’ll just be placing minimum bets and waiting for an opportunity.
Another dilemma involves finding the perfect posture when looking at face-down cards. Sitting in a manner that puts you lower to the table without looking awkward is easier said than done.
You have to be on point with your posture throughout an entire session. Otherwise, surveillance can scrutinize your play for a long range of hands and eventually figure out what you’re doing.
Like any advantage gambling technique, hole carding can also lead to you getting kicked out of the casino. You could even be blacklisted from every property that a certain corporation owns.
Hole carding is the most rewarding advantage play method in existence. It can provide you with huge edges when done properly.
Of course, nothing worthwhile is easy. Hole carding falls in line when considering that it requires extensive scouting to find a bad dealer.
You’ll spend most of your time moving from game to game looking for a flasher. Once you find one, though, you can make considerable profits.
It helps if you’re adept at spotting hole cards in a variety of games. This way, you have many more options when trying to find flashers.