What does it mean to want to know how to hack casino games? Does it mean you want to learn how to cheat at slot machines? Does it mean you want to get unauthorized access to the computer programs generating the results for various gambling machines?
I tend to prefer the definition of “hack” that refers to solving a problem or working your way around a problem with a clever strategy. (This is the usage that you’ll see “life hackers” prefer, too.)
This isn’t an etymology blog, though. The only reason I get into the definition is because I want to clarify what I mean when I say I’m going to teach you how to hack casino games.
How to Cheat at Slot Machines
I want to start by going on the record to say that I am AGAINST cheating at slot machines. Even if you know how, you shouldn’t do it. Here’s why.
Cheating at casino games is a felony in Nevada. I’m not sure what the laws are in other states, but I suspect they’re similar. At the very least, using a device or illicit computer program to get an edge at slots would be illegal. And you don’t want to spend time in prison over that sort of thing.
Just ask Tommy Glenn Carmichael, although he’s probably a bad example. (He can’t seem to stop.)
Now that I’ve warned against it, how would you cheat at slot machines if you wanted to? I’m not a computer programmer, but I’m sure that if you have an education in programming, you could get far cheating at slots by hacking the source code for the games.
Less intense ways to cheat at slots might include using fake coins to play, since you’re not risking real money, anything you earn is pure profit. But you would have to find a coin slot machine to get this to work.
Most machines nowadays only use bills and tickets. If you come across vintage slot machines or can find them in your area, then the fake coin trick might be a fun little gimmick. But you also have to watch out for the “eye in the sky!” That’s why cheating at slot machines is pretty much a lost cause.
How to Hack Blackjack
Learning how to hack blackjack is easier and way better than cheating at slot machines. All you need to do is learn how to count cards.
You’re just THINKING hard about the game. How could you consider that cheating?
The real trick to counting cards in blackjack is to do so without being obvious about it. If the casino staff think you’re counting cards, they’ll take countermeasures. They might ban you from the blackjack tables, for example.
Or they might ban you from the casino property altogether. Even if counting cards is legal, trespassing is still illegal.
Why Counting Cards in Blackjack Works
The reasons counting cards in real money blackjack works is because a deck of cards has “memory.” Also, the cards worth 10 and 11 points are better for the player.
To understand why a deck of cards has memory, imagine this scenario.
You’re playing blackjack from a single deck, and after a couple of hands, all the aces are gone. At this point, it’s impossible to get a blackjack (a two-card hand totaling 21).
Since blackjack pays off at 3 to 2 odds, the potential payout drops, because every other hand pays off at even money if you win.
Do you see how that might change your theoretical payback percentage? As it turns out, removing even one ace from the deck changes your probability of getting a blackjack. And every card affects your expectation when it’s removed from the deck.
Once the deck is reshuffled, it returns to its original state, and the house edge returns to its original mathematical expectation.
If you have a way to know when the odds are tilted more in your favor, you can bet more in those situations. And you can bet less in situations where the odds are tilted more in favor of the house.
The aces and the tens are the most important cards in the deck, because they’re the cards that result in blackjacks (or “naturals”).
If a deck of cards has a higher proportion of tens and aces than usual, you’ll bet more. If a deck of cards has a lower proportion of tens and aces than usual, you’ll bet less. Simple, right? But how do you know?
How to Count Cards in Blackjack
You need an easy system for tracking that ratio of high cards (10s and aces) versus low cards. The simplest system for doing so is called the Hi Lo System.
Every time you see a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, you add 1 to your mental tally. Every time you see an ace, a 10, or a face card, you subtract 1 from your mental tally. (Face cards are worth 10 points each.)
When the count is positive, you have an edge. The higher that positive count is, the bigger your edge is. The count informs how much you bet.
You start by deciding what your betting range is going to be. This is a function of how big your bankroll is versus how risk averse you are. The bigger your betting range, the likelier it is that the casino will notice you’re counting cards. Also, the bigger your betting range is, the more of an edge against the house you’ll have.
Let’s say you’re reasonably conservative and you’re going to have a betting range of $5 to $20 (1 to 4 units).
If the count is 0 or lower, you’ll bet $5 per hand. When the count is 2, you’ll bet $10 per hand. When the count is 3, you’ll bet $15 per hand. When the count is 4 (or higher), you’ll bet $20 per hand.
Converting the Running Count to a True Count
This might be a lot to take in if you’re new to blackjack, but there’s more.
If you’re playing in a blackjack game where there are multiple decks, you’ll want to account for the dilution effect of having multiple decks in play. What do I mean by that?
Let’s go back to our earlier example, where all four aces got dealt out of the pack of cards, and your probability of getting a blackjack dropped to 0%.
If you’re playing in a game dealt from two decks, though, the probability of getting a blackjack has dropped, but it hasn’t dropped to 0. Half of the available aces are gone, which is significant, but it’s not a dream-killer, either.
To account for that, you divide the count by the number of decks left in the shoe. This is a two-part skill, by the way.
First, you must learn to estimate how many decks of cards are left in the shoe. Second, you must learn to divide in your head without looking like you’re thinking about.
You base your decisions based on the true count, which is the running count divided by the number of decks left in the shoe. And don’t forget to start the count over when the deck gets re-shuffled.
Other Ways to Hack Casino Games
Another casino game worth hacking is video poker. Start by learning the differences between one video poker pay table and another.
For some video poker games, like Jacks or Better, the pay tables from game to game are almost completely standard. The only differences in payouts are for just a couple of different hands.
And for other video poker games, like Deuces Wild, the pay tables can vary payouts on several different hands. Most people will need to consult a chart of some kind.
Once you’ve learned to compare video poker pay tables, you can start gravitating toward the VP games with the best payback percentages. But hacking video poker is also a two-part process.
Not only do you need to be able to recognize the best possible pay tables, you must also be able to play every hand with close to perfect strategy.
Since there are 32 possible ways to play each hand, this might seem unlikely. But it’s easier than you think. Invest in some video poker tutorial software and practice. Or buy some of the strategy books and/or cards from Bob Dancer’s website.
When you combine perfect video poker strategy on a game with a greater than 99% payback percentage and the cashback on your slots club membership, you put yourself in a positive expectation situation.
Do you understand how to hack casino games now? In the space of a single blog post, you can only cover so much information.
Other people have detailed dozens of other ways to cheat at slot machines and other casino games. Which ones are your favorites, if any? Let me know in the comments below. Good luck with your gambling!