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The practical way to keep a count is to assign small cards (usually 2 through 6) a value of positive 1, while tens and aces are negative 1. The player then adds and subtracts these values as the cards are dealt. A strong positive count indicates that more little cards have come out, and so the remainder of the deck is rich in money cards. The actual counting of the cards is the easiest part. Much harder is riding out the variance, identifying which games are actually beatable, maintaining accuracy in real conditions, and avoiding detection. The proof of the effectiveness of card counting is that land casinos hire staffs of people to identify and kick out skilled individuals.

Before discussing the actual counting opportunities online, let's look at the pitfalls. Some inexperienced posters on newsgroups assume that, as on land, it is the norm not to shuffle every hand. Do not compare the physical practice to the random number-generated computer games; all games on the Internet should be considered to be constantly shuffled unless proven otherwise. From a computer programmer's point of view, it is actually easier to start with a fresh deck every hand. A software program employs a database of 52 digital cards which are drawn at random. Nothing like the actual mixing of cards occurs. This routine is repeated for all subsequent hands. Dealing multiple hands from the same deck requires more lines of code. After cards are drawn in the first hand, the computer has to retain in memory which cards are left, and to draw only from them. Conclusion: if a program does not shuffle every hand, the designers went out of their way to do it that way, presumably for a reason. In the best case, they believe they will earn more from incompetent counters than they will lose to the good ones. The games might also have such a shallow deal and bad rules that it cannot actually be beaten, but wannabes won't know the difference. At worst, the games is luring counters into a trap.

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