Why You Should Treat Blackjack Card Counting Like Poker

Blackjack and Aces Pair With a Numbers Background

Card counting and blackjack share similarities in that they’re both skill-based types of gambling. You can win money with each pursuit over time with enough skill and patience.

However, they also have major differences from each other. Card counting is used in real money blackjack, which, without advantage play, is a fixed-odds casino game. Therefore, you need to beat the house to win.

Poker, meanwhile, pits you against other people. You must outplay your opponents, rather than the house, to win money.

You wouldn’t think that the approaches to excelling at card counting and poker would intertwine. But card counters can learn a lot by looking at how poker players improve.

The following guide covers why the average card counter fails in their approach. It also discusses how to apply poker strategy methods to becoming an excellent advantage player.

How Most Amateur Gamblers Approach Card Counting

Learning how to count cards isn’t exactly easy to master. It requires you to thoroughly learn a counting system and execute it to perfection.

Nevertheless, successful advantage play can be done. But amateur gamblers often fail in this pursuit for one or more of the following reasons.

Not Enough Practice Time

You can learn the basics of card counting within a short time span. This explanation of the Hi-Lo covers what you must do to successfully count cards.

Learning card counting is only a small part of the equation. You also have to successfully implement it and keep up with the speed of the game.

Closeup of a Blackjack Dealer Paying Out a Hand

The latter requires practice and experience. You should employ one or more practice methods into improving your counting skills, such as using a training program.

Many aspiring card counters put some effort into becoming better. However, they don’t dedicate enough time to practicing until a counting system becomes second nature to them.

Too Small of a Bankroll

A huge misconception behind card counting is that great players always win. In reality, those using the Hi-Lo system only have a 1.5% advantage over the house at best.

The slim edge you gain from counting cards means that you could easily lose lots of money on a given night. Therefore, you want to be prepared with a large-enough bankroll so that you survive the downswings and eventually win profits.

Most card counters, however, don’t bother bringing an adequate bankroll to the table. They instead start with whatever money they have and expect to last.

Expectations of Quick Winnings

Gamblers not only expect to win with card counting every time but also big while doing so. Hollywood is largely to blame for this thinking because it commonly portrays card counters as making ridiculous sums of money.

Going back to the small advantage, a 1.5% edge means that you’re going to win $1.50 for every $100 wagered. While this amount adds up over time, it doesn’t exactly mean you’ll become a millionaire overnight.

Nevertheless, some players get discouraged when they’re unable to win right away. The discouraged often give up early into the game.

How Poker Pros Rise to Success

Playing poker for real money certainly isn’t easy. Those who make a living from poker put countless hours into various aspects of the game. Here are the general things that players do to eventually become professionals.

Improving Skills

Poker players don’t win consistent profits if they’re not able to beat opponents. That said, pros put lots of work into improving their abilities. Amateur players who are on the road to becoming pros also work hard on their games.

Poker players can use a variety of methods to boost their skills. Some of the main ways to become a stronger player include watching training videos, watching pro streams on Twitch, and reading strategy articles.

Much like card counting, numerous poker strategy resources exist across the internet. Those who use what’s available to them to practice playing poker will become much better.

Card counters should also take advantage of relevant resources. They can watch card counting videos, read articles, and use the aforementioned online training programs.

Long Hours at the Tables

You can’t become a great poker player overnight. After all, poker is one of the most-competitive games in existence.

Those who make a living from it spend thousands of hours at the table over their lifetimes. They don’t just spend all of this time playing either.

Successful players also commit to the aforementioned strategy methods. The best pros typically spend at least 5-10 hours on strategy in addition to logging countless hours at the tables.

Person at a Poker Table With a Large Stack of Chips

Card counters don’t typically look to maximize their time at a specific table. After all, they need to hit the casinos and run to avoid being detected.

Nevertheless, they should take the poker mindset towards scouting out the casinos, playing at them, and perfecting camouflaging techniques.

Commitment to Bankroll Management

Casino bankroll management should be a priority in any type of gambling. However, it especially takes precedence in poker.

A poker player with an edge at their given stakes knows that they can win long-term profits. That said, they must map out a bankroll plan to ensure that they don’t assume too much risk in the short run.

A cash game player, for example, should have at least enough money to cover 30 buy-ins (100 big blinds). If this grinder plays $25/$50 hold’em, then they should have a bankroll worth at least $150,000.

A card counting bankroll varies based on whether you’re a solo counter or with a team. As a solo counter, you should have at least $7,000 or more to survive the volatility.

With a team, you’ll need to supply money to both the spotters and big player. That said, you should begin with at least $18,000 when playing with a team.

Analysis After Sessions

Winning poker players work to fix their “leaks,” or common mistakes they make that continually cost them winnings.

Post-session analysis is especially crucial when working up the stakes. Dedicated players routinely look over their recent sessions and figure out where they can improve. By fixing leaks, they’ll move closer to playing optimally.

Card counters can also benefit from post-session analysis. They can think back to if their counts were perfect throughout the night and if they camouflaged their skills well.

Some Card Counters Already Have the Poker Pro Mindset

When one envisions becoming a card counter, they probably don’t think about poker simultaneously. However, advantage gamblers can certainly benefit by adopting poker improvement methods.

After all, many wannabe counters are still under the impression that they just need to learn a system and carry it out. However, this approach leaves too much up to chance.

If you don’t have the necessary experience/practice or a large-enough bankroll, then your card counting journey can quickly end.

Poker Hand on Table

Of course, you don’t necessarily need to act exactly like a poker player when counting cards. After all, distinct differences exist between the two disciplines.

But you should strive to be different from the average card counter, who never makes any profits from the endeavor. Applying the same proven methods that poker players use in their games is a good start.

Much Like Poker, Card Counting Success Is a Long Journey

I’ve never heard of an advantage gambler who experienced a straight line to success. They all have stories of trials and tribulations on the path to becoming a long-term winner.

For some reason, though, most card counters don’t have the same thought process. They go out for 3-5 sessions and give up if success doesn’t come immediately.

Just like poker, card counting success doesn’t come overnight. You may need to spend months in the casino before everything clicks.

Of course, you also need to worry about how much money you’re spending on the matter. You likely can’t afford to lose several thousand dollars until you finally start making money.

If you’re doing all of the other things to improve, though, then you probably won’t have to worry about these kinds of losses. Assuming you combine this attitude with a long-term mindset, then you stand a better chance of eventually collecting profits.

Examine the Similarities Between Poker and Card Counting

Card counting and poker aren’t exactly twins. However, they do closely resemble each other regarding what it takes to become successful.

Poker players are especially on point with their improvement methods. They watch pros’ Twitch streams, check out training videos, get coaching, and/or run through post-session analysis.

Most amateur card counters don’t put as much effort into boosting their skills. Anybody who’s really serious about the matter, though, should definitely steal some ideas from the poker world when improving.

Bankroll management, studying strategy, and spending long hours at the table (or scouting tables) pay dividends in both card counting and poker.