Who Are the Experts in Poker Card Counting? Top Players and Their Strategies

card counting

Liam Cook

Release Date

Thursday, June 20, 2024


Poker has been considered one of the most highly respected card games around. However, when it comes to card counting, we think of a different game that also uses cards. Of course, we're talking about blackjack. Yet, did you know that card counting does exist in the game of poker itself?

Not to mention, it also happens that they are masters of this practice in the game itself. We'll discuss who these experts are and the strategies they have executed over the years. We're excited to share this guide with you, so let's get started with what you need to know.

What is Card Counting in Poker?

Card counting in poker is very different from blackjack. One significant difference is that the deck doesn't continuously get shuffled after each hand in blackjack, whereas in poker, it does. This makes things more challenging for those implementing card-counting strategies. Of course, it will take a bit of skill, strategy, and practice to get the hang of card counting in a poker game.

Another thing to note is that hard counting in a digital setting, such as an online casino, can be even more challenging. Whether it's poker or blackjack, it is difficult to implement a card-counting strategy when such platforms use random number generators to ensure fairness and integrity.

Who Are The Professional Poker Players Known For Card Counting?

Have you ever wondered who among the poker greats has done card counting when pursuing their career as a professional? The good news is that we have a list of those who have been known to do some card counting and ended up winning titles such as the World Series of Poker Championship and others. Here's a look at who they are:

  • Phil Ivey: Phil Ivey is considered one of the greatest poker players because of his strategic approach. He can read opponents and analyze card distributions. He also keeps his exact methods under wraps. However, he utilizes his intuition to understand the probabilities and card dynamics so he can count cards in his own unique style. Despite card counting not being criminal, Ivey himself has faced allegations of cheating in the past.
  • Daniel Negreanu: It may be a matter of debate, but let's set the analogy for you. Tom Brady is to the National Football League as Daniel Negreanu is to professional poker. When it comes to his style of play, he's more analytical. Believe it or not, he's not a card counter in the traditional sense. However, he utilizes some elements and hand probabilities as part of his strategy. Some may believe it is hard to count in poker, but it is not the purest and original version of the practice.

What Card Counting Strategies Are Used By Experts?

Plenty of card counting strategies are done in expert-tested poker and enthusiast-approved poker. Try these out for yourself the next time you play poker at a physical table.  Here's a look at what they are so you can put them into practice:

  • Pattern recognition: Poker players who use hard counting often lean on pattern recognition. They observe the cards and how they are distributed in previous hands. At the same time, they anticipate which cards will appear in future rounds. This will require a master level of keen observation so they can tailor their strategy accordingly. This can include folding if the hand appears weak or betting aggressively if they feel they have a hand that will favor them.
  • Probabilistic analysis: Probability analysis will play a vital role in card counting in poker. Experts calculate the likelihood of certain parts of hearing based on what has already been dealt with. At the same time, they consider that their opponents were likely holding in previous hands. Knowing this, they can make informed decisions and maximize their chances of winning.
  • Reading opponents:  This is a strategy that's nothing new. Reading your opponents is expected in the game of poker. Especially when it comes to reading their behaviors and betting patterns. The poker experts typically look for tells and betting sequences to give them intel on their opponents' strength in departure pulling. Using car counting insights and the intel they have gathered from reading their opponents will help Implement a strategy that will give them an advantage.

What are the Ethical Considerations?

The ethical consideration is that card counting is sometimes frowned upon. Especially by casinos that are often looking to protect their bottom line. Even though blackjack is one of the hotbeds for card counting activity, it takes a lot of work to detect in a poker game. The reason for this is how complex the game is, such as the use of multiple decks being shuffled after every hand and determining the skill level of each player at the table.

Card counting in poker is more complex compared to its Blackjack counterpart. But interestingly enough, plenty of the poker greats have utilized it to their advantage. It will take a lot more practice and a deeper understanding of the game to master this. But in the meantime, you could learn more about it and implement it in a live game instead of a digital setting where it can be even more challenging, if not impossible, to pull off.

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