Card counting in casinos

Counting by way of human memory is not unlawful, but casino law tends to ban card counting that is assisted by mechanical device. Is that a defensible distinction? [Adam Kolber, Prawfs]


  • It is absolutely a defensible distinction. Compare cards to chess and see if it’s even a close call.

  • Captnhal’s analogy to cheating at chess is a good one.

    How much the criminal law should be involved may still be subject to debate, however. I am put in mind of laws about ticket scalping. Many libertarians opposed laws against scalping, which even if morally dubious was a transaction between two consenting adults. But new technology has converted libertarians’ former allies in the scalper community into big-government enthusiasts. Pro-scalper state legislators have sought to ban electronic ticketing, which destroys the scalper business model by retricting admission to the person who originally bought the ticket.

  • More on chess:
    Some advocates of poker have claimed it should not be banned under gambling laws because it is a game of skill like chess, at least over the long term. Prizes at chess tournaments have never been banned under gambling laws.

  • Hugo, that’s because chess is regarded as a nerds’ game. Never, in any TV, movie or pulp fiction Western did Brazos Bill say:
    “Rook to Queen’s 6; Check.”
    To which Pecos Pete, responded:
    “Them’s fighten words, Mister.”

  • wfjag–
    I still treasure a cartoon from the 1972 Fischer-Spassky championship matck, showing the temperamental Fischer, with an evil grin, releasing a slingshot:
    “My move? Bishop to Spassky’s head!”