Hello again! I would like to thank everybody for the lovely questions (and please please keep sending questions, I like it when people send me questions!). This week, I am once again answering a question asked by my friend narrativedilettante, of Webcomics Worth Wreading. She asked:
What does “counting cards” mean? Can you teach me to count cards?
This is an excellent question. Counting cards often comes up in the context of gambling– it is well known that people can be thrown out of casinos for being accused of “counting cards.” But what is counting cards, and why is it so dangerous?
In fact, there are two important things to know about “counting cards” before we progress. First, it is a very elaborate and very devious form of cheating in a card game that requires unlimited financial resources, good concentration, and a team of friends.
Second, while the technique has been corrupted to be known as “counting cards” due to its association with card games, its true name is “counting cars”.
As many people know, the average deck of playing cards contains fifty-two cards. Commensurately, your true card counter (or car counter) owns at least fifty-two vehicles. The more extravagant car counter will have vanity plates on each car, with license numbers that hint at the numbers and suits of each card in the fifty-two card deck. Those of more moderate means will simply assign each car a corresponding card, and memorize which license plate is designated for which card.
When a game of cards is in progress, the card counter has his friends stationed such that they can see his opponents’ cards. But, of course, any obvious way of telling him what the cards say would be immediately recognized as cheating, and no good. Instead, these friends– who are entrusted with the keys to his fifty-two cars– go out to the parking lot of the casino, and drive the cars that correspond to the cards past the window.
The card counter watches the window, and counts his cars passing by. If he concentrates, and remembers which is which, this enables him to know the values of the cards in his opponents’ hands.
As you can see, card counting (or car counting) is relatively simple, provided you have the keen eyesight, good memory, and fifty-two cars required to pull it off. This also explains why there are far fewer complaints of card counting in casinos that have no windows.
Disclaimer: Many of the statements in this post are entirely fabricated. The writer advocates neither card counting nor car counting.