iPhone Apps: Counting cards gets easier, thanks to App Store

| Published: February 24, 2009

Sometimes, I have to wonder what the heck the wizards behind the App Store curtain are thinking. They block apps that enable video, modem functionality, call recording ? and yet they give the thumbs up to card-counting apps? What gives?

I?m not much of a gambler, but if I were, I would've bet on Apple rejecting Card Counter, Blackjack Card Counter and CardCounterBJ. Good thing I didn't, because these apps were approved and are sitting in the App Store as I type this. Meanwhile, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGC) alerted casinos about the threat, singling out Blackjack Card Counter in particular, which works on both the iPhone as well as the iPod Touch.

Here's the scoop:
In Nevada, even counting cards in your head is not condoned. Get caught, and you can get banned from an establishment. Use a device to count cards, however, and you cross that line from rulebender to law breaker. Sin City's home state considers it a felony, meaning you could be arrested, face prison time and/or get slapped with a big fine (up to $10,000 for first offenders).

Though bloggers have been wagging their tongues about these apps, they've now become big enough news to land on CNN.

But instead of being embarrassed or concerned about the hot water customers could find themselves in, these app developers wear this bit of unintended PR as a badge of honor.

There are some differences among the apps. Blackjack Card Counter works even when the screen is blacked out, for covert purposes. (Users have to remember where the inputs would've been, though, and press accordingly.) Card Counter is more of a training tool to teach users how to count cards in their heads. Both cost $2.99, while CardCounterBJ is the cheapo, 99-cent scaled-down version.

I?m not doing full-fledged reviews of them here because, frankly, I think it's pretty bad juju to use these. And I really, really don't condone breaking the law.

In a Computerworld article, NGC's Randall Sayre said that "Use of this type of program or possession of a device with this type of program on it ? with the intent to use it ? in a licensed gaming establishment is a violation of NRS 465.075."

So if you?re harboring some sort of souped up Kevin Spacey/ 21 fantasy, you may want to get rid of it. Just having and intending to use one of these apps at the tables is enough to get you busted.