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What Are Blackjack Counting Systems?

Source: Medium.com

In almost any movie taking place in a Las Vegas casino, there is a scene where someone is accused of card counting and thrown out by the security. If that baffled you, here is a simple explanation of why it is such a powerful tool and why casinos frown upon at it. But first, lets clear some misconceptions about card counting.

How Effective Are Blackjack Counting Systems?

Card counting is essential keeping track of high and low cards ratio in a deck. It is very popular with poker and blackjack players in traditional casinos, but it is useless in an online one since the deck is reshuffled after each hand. So, if you mainly play on the Internet, card counting won’t do you any good.

In theory, by keeping a mental check on how many high and low cards there are left, you can massively increase your chances of winning. Many professional players use it, but it requires a keen memory and a lot of attention. You have to keep track of everyone’s card at the table, not just yours. The more players there are, the harder it gets. That is why many experts recommend you use it at tables with just two or three players at most.

There are numerous stories about successful card counters, like Josh Axelrad or Jeff Haney. Perhaps the most popular one is about the MIT Blackjack Team, a group of students from MIT who made a lo0t of money using this system in the late 1970s and early 1980s in various casinos.

Is Card Counting Illegal?

Card counting isn’t illegal. It is a perfectly legitimate system since you are only using your mind to do it. Still, a lot of casinos do not subscribe to this view. If they think you are counting cards, you will be promptly ejected from the premises and banned for life. Mind you, this will only happen if you are actually successful and making money. If you are losing, they will happy to let you play all night.

How many Blackjack counting systems are there?

The short answer to this is a lot. They all have varying degrees of effectiveness and difficulty. You can choose a system which is easy to use, but not very effective. Or go the opposite way and learn a system that is highly effective, but you will need years to master it. Of course, there are many shades of gray between these two opposites. In the end, people choose according to their personal preferences. We have listed some of the most popular ones below. Keep in mind that, while some of these are easy to learn, they are quite hard to master. You will need a lot of practice before you can use them in a real casino. But first, you need to master blackjack itself and one of the best places to do it is here.

Source: Caesars Slots

Hi-Lo system

The hi-lo is one of the most popular Blackjack counting systems, due to how easy it is to learn. Low cards have a value of +1, while high cards have a value of -1. The middle cards 7,8, and 9 are given the value of 0. This way, you only add or deduct 1 from the whole number you keep in your head. Make sure to count every card that is on the table, since missing any will skew the count. If the number is increasing, that means there are more high cards left in the deck. If it is decreasing, more low cards are in play. This will affect the way you bet, according to your cards.

Red Seven

Red Seven has been touted as one of the best card counting systems for beginners. It is very accurate and easy to learn. The values are similar to the Hi-lo system. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and red 7 have a value of +1. 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace have a value of -1. 8, 9, and black 7 have a value of 0. The important thing to remember is that Red Seven is an unbalanced system. If you add all the cards in the deck, you will get a value of -2. That is why an adjustment is needed for playing blackjack in a casino. You will start at -2 and count from there. If there are two decks, you will start from -4, three decks -6 and so forth. If there are more high cards, bet higher, since this is better for players. If there are more low cards, bet minimally, since this situation benefits the dealer.

Source: Online Casino


Some say that acronym KISS stands for Keep it Short and Simple. Others claim that it is Keep it Simple Stupid. Either way, KISS is a simple system that can improve your blackjack skills significantly. There are three major strategies with the KISS system, called KISS 1, KISS 2, and KISS 3. KISS 1 is the simplest one to use but only gives you a +0.48% advantage. KISS is more difficult, with a +0.64% edge. KISS 3 is the most complex one, but it comes with an edge of +0.70%. The beginners are encouraged to start with KISS 1 and work their way up. The key feature of the KISS system is that it ignores about half of the deck. This simplifies the math and the score you have to keep in your head. It also makes it less effective than many other systems out there, but it is a great way to ease yourself into the whole card-counting world.

Knock Out Blackjack

Knock Out Blackjack, or K-O system was popularized by Ken Fuchs and Olaf Vancura. In their book Knock Out Blackjack – The Easiest Card Counting System Ever Devised they explained every detail of the system. Card values are assigned a bit differently than Hi-Lo, with only 8s and 9s having a value of 0. Cards from 2 to 7 have a value of +1, while high cards are the same. From 10 to Ace, they are valued at -1. It is an unbalanced system, so you have to start your count at -2 to account for that. The other method is to keep +2 as your baseline and adjust from there. It is an easy system to learn, but it may take you some time to master it.

Source: wikiHow