Q&A: Do Blackjack Dealers Count Cards?

Dear Connor,

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about Blackjack’s fascinating history and I kept asking myself, “Surely a dealer would be tempted to take advantage of his position and count cards for himself?” So why don’t they? Or am I missing something here?


Susan A

Do blackjack dealers count cards?


Well Stacey, that’s a really good question. I get a lot of questions on the controversial topic of counting cards. It’s a fiddly business, not least of all because most people don’t count properly and end up making their odds worse.

Counting cards is tricky and takes a lot of concentration – something a Blackjack dealer can’t afford to give during any game. All that mathematical focus will have him sweating like a pregnant nun.

The dealer’s play is automatic – he has specific rules to abide by and isn’t given a lot of flexibility, or in fact, any decision in game strategy. Dealers operate according to pre-set procedures of play. It’s as simple as that.

If the dealer does manage to keep up with all the cards in the decks he is dealing, all he will be able to tell is if the remaining cards are favourable to the player or not, or but realistically he can make no active move to change the outcome.

I suppose if he wanted to he could influence the player’s behaviour. A lot of Blackjack beginners will ask for advice, and the dealer could respond with a strategy that will put the player in hot water. For example he could urge the player to bet more on a hand he knows is unfavorable…or decrease his bet on a favorable one.

But I’m left wondering – what’s the gain? What incentive does the dealer have for helping the house? ” He gains nothing from it. No extra pennies for his pocket in the form of commission. He just gets paid an hourly rate that is not based on the casino’s profit during that session.

I like to just think of the dealer as that pre-programmed chap in a tie. He’s a straight-faced somebody who can shuffle your fate faster than you can say “winner winner chicken dinner.”

All the best,

Connor Reeves

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