blackjack
Aug 15, 2020

Blackjack Card Counting – Advanced Strategies

Card counting in blackjack is based on a simple principle: If there are more high cards than low cards in the remaining stack of cards, your advantage over the casino increases. Conversely, if there are more cards of low values, the edge of the casino increases. Card counting is a very effective way to increase your advantage as you know when to bet high and when to bet low. There are many different strategies on how to count cards, which are very similar but differ slightly. For those who don’t know anything about card counting, checkout Blackjack Card Counting – Basic Strategy first. There, the basics of card counting, and the Hi-Lo Strategy are explained. In this post we will cover some more advanced  Blackjack card counting strategies as well as bet sizing.

Advanced Card Counting Strategies

KO Count

KO Count, also known as knockout count, is one of the most popular card counting strategies in Blackjack. Other than in the basic Hi-Lo strategy the starting count depends on the number of decks being used:

  • 1 deck – Starting count of 0
  • 2 decks – Starting count of -4
  • 6 decks – Starting count of -20
  • 8 decks – Starting count of -28

As the starting count is adjusted according to the number of decks being used, you do not need to calculate the true count, which makes this strategy rather easy to learn.

To calculate the running count, use the following tags (values):

  • cards 2-7 get a tag of +1
  • cards 8 & 9 get a tag of 0
  • card 10-A get a tag of -1

Ace/Five Count

The Ace/Five Count is probably the easiest card counting strategy as you only have to count 5s and Aces. The strategy is a balanced strategy, meaning that when a deck is dealt completely, your count should be at 0. Balanced strategies start with a starting count of 0 and therefore the true count needs to be calculated from the running count.

To calculate the running count, use the following tags:

  • card 5 gets a tag of +1
  • card A gets a tag of -1
  • every other card gets a tag of 0

Hi Opt System

The Highly Optimum Counting Strategies were created by Charles Einstein and is based on the Hi-Lo Count. Einstein aimed to improve the Hi-Lo Count and developed the so called Hi Opt 1 strategy. Later he improved this count even further and with the help of Julian Braun, the Hi Opt 2 strategy was developed.

Hi Opt 1

Hi Opt 1 is a balanced card counting strategy, so you start with a starting count of 0. To determine your bet size, the true count needs to be calculated.

To calculate the running count, use the following tags:

  • cards 3-6 get a tag of +1
  • cards 2, 7- 9 & A get a tag of 0
  • cards with a value of 10 get a tag of -1
Hi Opt 2

Like the strategy above, Hi Opt 2 is also a balanced strategy. So you start with a count of 0 and convert the running count into the true count for betting size decisions.

To calculate the running count, use the following tags:

  • cards 4 & 5 get a tag of +2
  • cards 2, 3, 6 & 7 get a tag of +1
  • cards 7, 8 & A get a tag of 0
  • cards with a value of 10 get a tag of -2

Wong Halves

The Halves strategy was developed by Wong Halves, from whom it also has tis name. Wong Halves is a balanced strategy, so your starting count is 0 and therefore the true count has to be calculated.

To calculate the running count, use the following tags:

  • card 5 gets a tag of +1.5
  • cards 3, 4 & 6 get a tag of +1
  • cards 2 & 7 get a tag of +0.5
  • card 8 gets a tag of 0
  • card 9 gets a tag of -0.5
  • cards 10-A get a tag of -1

Omega II

The Omega II is another advanced card counting strategy where you start with a starting count of 0. Like in other balanced strategies you also have to convert the running count into a true count.

To calculate the running count, use the following tags:

  • cards 3-5 get a tag of +2
  • cards 2, 3 & 7 get a tag of +1
  • cards 8 & A get a tag of 0
  • card 9 gets a tag of -1
  • cards with a value of 10 get a tag of -2

Red 7 System

Unlike in other card counting strategies, the Red 7 strategy does not have a starting count of 0 and therefore is an unbalanced strategy. As in the KO Count the starting count is adjusted depending on the number of decks being used:

  • 1 deck – Starting count of -2
  • 2 decks – Starting count of -4
  • 4 decks – Starting count of -8
  • 6 decks – Starting count of -12
  • 8 decks – Starting count of -16

As the starting count is adjusted according to the number of decks being used, you do not need to calculate the true count, which makes this strategy rather easy to learn.

To calculate the running count, use the following tags:

  • cards 2-6 & red 7 get a tag of +1
  • cards black 7, 8 & 9 get a tag of 0
  • cards 10-A get a tag of -1

Zen Count

The Zen count is a rather advanced card counting strategy for players who already have some experience in card counting. It is a balanced system, so you start your count with 0. If more than 1 decks are used, the running count needs to be converted into the true count.

To calculate the running count, use the following tags:

  • cards 4-6 get a tag of +2
  • cards 2, 3 & 7 get a tag of +1
  • cards 8 & 9 get a tag of 0
  • card A gets a tag of -1
  • cards with a value of 10 get a tag of -2

Bet Sizing

The idea of card counting is to determine when to bet high and when to bet low. In order to do this, you need to decide on bet range first. Choose a minimum and maximum bet size with which you feel comfortable. After the range has been chosen, decide on the size of your bet according to the following rules:

  • if the true count is negative, 0 or 1, bet your minimum
  • if the true count is +2 or higher, double your minimum bet
  • if the true count is +3 or higher, triple your minimum bet
  • and so on
Bet Sizing

Remember: Never bet more than your maximum you decided on earlier. Using this strategy will give you an advantage over the house and helps you to beat the dealer, assuming you use an appropriate Blackjack strategy alongside card counting.