How to Cheat at Blackjack

Although we don’t condone most of them, there are many methods you can deploy to get the upper hand in a game of blackjack. This game has been around for a long time and throughout its history there have been stories of top players who have won big money by using some tips and tricks that might or might not be illegal. Illegal or not, all of them are frowned upon by the casino, who can kick you out and ban you for performing them.

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With that in mind, you are taking a big risk if you undertake any of these methods yourself.

Card Counting

We have discussed this at length throughout this site. It was always going to be mentioned on a list of blackjack cheating, we couldn’t not include it, but at the same time you probably already know all there is to know about it. We won’t waste much time on this subject then, but we will say that card counting is a lot easier than it sounds and many of the dozens of techniques can be performed using simple mathematics. Card counting will get you banned from casinos worldwide, but not in Atlantic City, where they can’t do anything. Card counting is also not illegal, as long as no devices are used, so you won’t get into bother with the law.

Some of the most famous card counters include the MIT team, which was formed by mathematic students at the leading US college and was able to take millions from some of the biggest casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.

Bet Switching

This involves a number of methods for switching your bet after it is placed. Most notably, this was performed by Ricard Marcus, who made millions doing it. He found a casino that used $500 brown chips and $5 red chips that didn’t look too different on first inspection. He would place two $5 chips on top of one $500 chip and if he lost, he would switch out the $500 chip and only lose $15. The dealer or the security would not suspect anything, as they thought there was only $15 there to begin with. If he won, he would let the dealer know the true value of the chip and pickup around $1,000.

Other methods include palming a chip from the top of a stack to limit losses, and adding chips to a stack after it has already won. These are risky maneuvers as they can be spotted by security cameras, but they can be difficult for the dealer to spot when the table is busy.

As well as Richard Marcus, many other blackjack cheats have used this method, including Sherri Skoons, who actually worked with Marcus at one point. It is one of the easiest methods to employ and has also been used on everything from roulette and craps, to baccarat.


Aside from card counting, one of the most popular ways to cheat on the blackjack tables is to get the dealer onboard. If the dealer is on your side then they can pay you more than they should, they can deal the cards in your favor, they can call a win when you have actually lost and they can pass you chips and cards. The security cameras can miss a lot of this stuff as they are watching the dealer, the player and sometimes the chips, and they rarely study how the game plays out. However, colluding players and dealers tend to get very greedy and once they start to win big, then the security cameras will take notice. If one particular dealer loses a lot of money on a regular basis, they may also go back and study the tapes.

Not all dealers get involved with collusion out of greed. One of the most well-known cases of dealer exploitation happened because the dealer was in debt with the player, who essentially intimidated him into colluding in order to pay back the debt.


There are electronic devices that can be used to count cards and to keep track of all of the cards in the deck. These are fairly simple devices, nothing that modern technology can’t handle, but by using them inside a casino you are breaking the law and can get into some serious trouble. Even if you use a simple counting device from a basic card counting technique, you can get into some serious trouble if discovered. Cheaters have been using such devices for decades, but they are more complex and effective than ever. There is a belief that casinos can detect such devices, but whilst it is true that they might be able to pick up radio frequencies, it would be silly to suggest they would create something that could detect electronic devices in a casino where everyone is probably carrying a smartphone.

Marking Cards

This is a technique used in many games. If the cards are marked, it allows the player to see what cards other players — or the dealer — are holding, and what cards are going to be dealt next. It is typically more valuable in a game of poker, but it works well in blackjack as well. This is a cheat that can be performed by marking decks in advance and swapping them for the casino cards, or simply by marking all of the cards as they come to you. Players have marked cards by scratching them and bending them, but there was also a story of a cheat who used invisible ink that could only be detected using certain lenses built-into his sunglasses.

One of the most famous cheats to use these methods was Dustin Marks, who actually employed other techniques mentioned in this article as well. What is most astonishing about Dustin is that he was never caught, and if he didn’t write about what he had done in his book, then casinos and the general public would have never known about them. He is proof that not all of the best cheats are caught in the end, although he could also be proof that the public will believe anything anyone tells them if the story is interesting enough.