Card counting was made famous through books like Bringing Down the House and movies like 21. Tales of card counting often center around players winning huge sums of money, then making a hasty exit from a casino with security in hot pursuit.
Card counting generally applies to blackjack, but you might have wondered – does card counting work in poker?
Can You Count Cards In Poker?
By definition, card counting involves keeping track of which cards have come out of a deck in a casino game. In all variants of poker, some cards are public knowledge (community cards), while others (hole cards) are known only to the player that holds them.
You gain a strategic advantage in poker by taking all available information into account. If you hold a certain card, for instance, you know that no other player at the table has that card.
In poker, card counting is better known as the “blockers” effect. If a particular card is on the board, or is one of your hole cards, your opponents are “blocked” from having that card.
Let’s say you’re playing Texas Hold’em, and your hole cards are A♥ K♣. If the board reads J♥ 9♥ 6♥ 5♠ 3♣, there’s no way for any opponent to have an Ace-high flush. You hold the A♥, the blocker to the Ace-high flush.
Is Card Counting Legal In Poker?
Card counting is not only legal in poker, but a crucial technique used by all successful players. In any scenario, you should always use your hole cards and the community cards to determine the likelihood of an opponent having a particular hand.
In blackjack, card counting isn’t technically illegal. Skilled blackjack card counters, however, will be removed from the casino floor in some fashion if they have too much success with the technique. In poker, however, you should always use blockers as part of your strategy.