It has been more than a decade since the seminal blackjack strategy book “Beat the Dealer” was released and brought the art of card counting out to the public, the opportunistic blackjack players throughout the 70’s and 80’s began wearing mini computers that allowed them to track the value of their cards through slight movements of their fingers and toes. These little devices, placed in specially made shoes with keypads attached to their thighs, transformed the average players into experts in blackjack. This is why using these devices is illegal in the state of Nevada – now however, there are other devices out there that count cards and have Nevada regulators on high alert in the casinos.
Unlike the expensive homemade computers that were used in the past, there are Blackjack Card Counter apps that can be downloaded on the Apple iPhone or the iPod touch. They are $1.99 a piece from the iTunes store. The application is able to assign high and low values to each card and even has a “stealth” mode, when the phone is able to vibrate when the unplayed cards in the hand have a higher ratio of high valued cards that are more favorable for the player’s game. Those gamblers that bet big with more high value cards in the deck and the small when the ratio favors the low value cards could eventually take away the casino’s house edge or even gain an edge over the house. This is a potentially large disaster waiting to happen.
In the mid ‘80’s the casinos fought the spread of these electronic aids by successfully lobbying the use of such devices in the casinos a felony. Using a brain to count cards is legal in the state of Nevada. Gamblers that use the counting aids are treated a lot like cheaters that use magnets to trigger jackpots or bend cards during game play. These players can be imprisoned for up to six years.
They also can be fined up to $10,000 or both could happen. You also get a nice haul away from the casino and are banned for life. This threat has pretty much taken out the use of electronic card counting devices. Regulators tipped off that players in California had used the iPhone application for this purpose. Nevada then issued a statement and a public notice to all of the state’s casinos in the area to educate the unknowing public to show that this is still a crime in the state of Nevada.
“The unsuspecting public needs to be put on notice that you run a great risk of finding yourself in more trouble than it’s worth,” Gaming Control Board member Randy Sayre said. “No longer are iPods or cell phones sitting out in the open assumed to be innocent devices,” he said.