Card Counting: A Real Challenge.
I have been card counter for well over 10 years and you are correct, not many good card counters exist in the real world. I've seen many people at the tables I've played at dance around with their bets but after a few hands or a shoe I realize they are typical losers. I would guess that for every 6 or 7 thousand BJ players that walk into a casino, maybe one ...and I'm being generous, is good enough to win in the long run.
Let's not kid ourselves here. Playing a winning game of blackjack is not rocket science and it does not take a special kind of person with a computer mind to get the money. Counting cards entails, learning basic strategy, memorizing a few indices and then adding or subtracting one from a total...or, for the 'really sharp' people, adding or subtracting as much as two or even three. Wow. Anyone who puts just a little effort into learning how to count cards and excercising some basic self-discipline can succeed in beating the casinos. We're not a bunch of geniuses sitting around piecing together the Grand Unified Theory. Bigger money players face more challenges in the form of increased heat and the increased threat of running into an untoward situation but, in the end, it's still not that hard.
I see counters in casinos nearly everytime I go play blackjack. I even saw one today when I was playing (and his act absolutely sucked). I can even remember instances of encountering three or four counters on the same table, none of whom seemed to be together. Now, of course, my experience is skewed, as I generally only play in favorable games where, naturally, one would expect to find other counters. While a lot of counters I observe clearly are not playing a winning game, overall, I would say far more than one in six or seven thousand players is capable of beating the game of blackjack.
On a side note, most counters I watch tend to overtip. While they probably will not realize a profit in the long run, neither will the casinos where they play. The only ones who win in this scenario are the dealers. I hate dealers. I wish counters would tip less.