Hole carding: Meaning and significance

Hole carding: Meaning and significance

Hole Carding is the act of reading the dealer’s hole card, or the card facing down, to get an advantage in live casino games. Card counting will significantly improve your odds in the game. This strategy is used most widely in the game of Blackjack, where there is only a single hole card.

Hole carding: Meaning and significance

While hole carding isn’t illegal, it’s typically frowned upon and can get you kicked out of the casino that you’re in. If you have the casino reviews, survey the dealers carefully and utilise some basic techniques, you can have spectacular gaming experience.

What is hole carding

Hole carding refers to obtaining knowledge of cards that are supposed to be hidden from view in card counting games. The term is usually applied to Blackjack but can apply to other games with hidden hole cards, like Three Card Poker and Caribbean Stud Poker. So as long as it does not involve the use of a device like a mirror or actions like touching the dealer’s cards, in most jurisdictions, card counting is a legal form of advantage gambling in casino table games. In other games, like Stud Poker, casinos normally have rules against rubbernecking or having a confederate stand behind an opponent to signal card counting.

Blackjack players must usually make playing decisions based on only seeing one of the dealer’s cards (the upcard). But if the dealer’s hole card is spotted, a player who plays correctly has a theoretical advantage of up to 13% instead of the normal player disadvantage of around 0.5%. A hole-card player will often choose not to make certain plays, such as hitting a hard 19 against a dealer 20, so as not to reveal that he can see the dealer’s hole card

The technique

Card counting in Blackjack refers to using knowledge of the dealer downcard. Theoretically, the gain can be enormous with a score over 10,000. However, the practical gain is limited because:

  • We will not see every downcard.

  • We cannot always play ideally. For example, if the dealer has 20 and you have 19 you cannot win without hitting. But hitting will draw enormous attention.

  • Always betting insurance correctly will also draw attention.

  • Sometimes we will only obtain partial information. For example, the card may or may not have pips near an edge or corner.

How to do it

The first way to start seeing hole cards is to pay attention and start watching for them. Most players never pay enough attention to see a card if the dealer flashes every card dealt.

Most dealers who flashcards don’t do it every time and you can’t see them from every position at the table. Some dealers have a small flaw that you can only see if a card is a face card or not. But even this small amount of information is often enough to gain a small edge.

The best places to sit while trying to see hole cards are directly in front of the dealer or at first or third base, depending on if the dealer is right or left-handed and the dealing procedure of the game.

You need to always keep an eye out for sloppy dealers and sit in different seats to see if you can find the proper angle. It helps if you’re short because the closer your eyes are to the table the better your angle and chance to see a card.

Some players slouch to get closer to the felt and others lean back in their chairs. You need to appear to be acting naturally though so you don’t raise suspicion.

What to do with the information

Once you’ve been able to find a dealer or dealers who flash their hole card you have to determine the best way to use the information. It’s easy to think that you can just use the information in every situation, but this is dangerous. A flashing dealer is quite valuable, so you need to do everything you can to keep them dealing as long as possible.

We don’t mean that you need to try to get them to deal longer shifts, because doing this only raises a red flag for the pit boss and casino. What we mean is that as soon as the casino finds out a dealer is exposing their hole cards they’re instantly going to take action.

The casino is either going to train the dealer to deal properly, eliminating the opportunity to see hole cards or fire the dealer. Neither of these helps you win more casino bonuses in the long run. Because of the desire to keep the dealer employed with poor dealing skills as long as possible. You also have to be careful about how you use the information. If you make plays that are too far off from normal play too often it 

True advantage players look at every possible way to get an edge against the casino. Hole Card counting is just one of the ways to learn, but it offers a powerful edge when you can use it alert the pit and surveillance personnel that something isn’t right.


Name: Hole carding: Meaning and significance
Author: Helen Stratford
Published Date: 26/09/2019