Card Counting Systems

Comprehensive list of the different blackjack card counting techniques, methods, and systems. Learn which are best for novice and expert counters.

Blackjack card counting is a very important concept and it is a much-discussed topic too. There are several card counting systems out there with varying levels of technicality and accuracy. Professional card counters must be aware of most of these systems so that they can use the best-possible technique depending on the blackjack variant being played.

Card counting is a set of blackjack strategies using which the players assign a certain value to a set of cards. Then, they keep a running count and eventually arrive at a true count of the cards. Card counting helps in getting an estimate of the number of cards already dealt and the number of cards left in the deck. This information allows the player to decide on the playing action as well as the amount he should be spending on each bet. Ideally, with a positive count, players bet higher and when the count goes low, players tend to reduce their bet size.

Some important definitions to compare different card counting systems in blackjack:

Betting Correlation (BC) defines the correlation between the card point values and the effect on removing those cards. In other terms, BC is used to denote how accurately a card counting system predicts the most valuable betting situations. You ideally want a betting correlation that gets as close to 1.00 (100% correlation) as possible. Betting correlation gets more important as you add decks to the shoe (e.g., six or eight-deck games).

Playing efficiency (PE) measures how effective the system is at determinign the right betting behavior according to the composition of undealt cards. The higher the better, and very important for games with fewer decks.

Insurance Correlation (IC) describes how effective the counting strategy is at recommending the counter to take insurance when it was useful to do so. The higher the better, and this is important with higher counts.

SystemTypeLevelBetting CorrelationPlaying EfficiencyInsurance CorrelationEase of UseSuit Aware
Hi-LoBalanced1.97.51.76MediumNo
Hi-Opt IBalanced1.88.61.85MediumNo
Hi-Opt IIBalanced2.91.67.91MediumNo
Knock OutBalanced1.98.55.78MediumNo
Red SevenUnbalanced1.98.54.78MediumYes
Omega IIBalanced2.92.67.85MediumNo
Ace/FiveBalanced1.54.05.00EasyNo
Zen CountBalanced2.96.63.85HardNo
HalvesBalanced3.99.57.72HardNo
KISS IUnbalanced1.87.58.81EasyYes
KISS IIUnbalanced1.90.62.87EasyYes
KISS IIIUnbalanced1.97.56.78EasyYes
Wong HalvesBalanced3.99.57.72HardNo
J. NoirUnbalanced2.89.49.84EasyNo
Silver FoxBalanced1.96.54.69MediumNo
UBZ 2Unbalanced2.94.61.82EasyNo
RPCBalanced2.98.56.78HardNo
Uston APCBalanced3.90.69.90HardNo
Canfield ExpertBalanced1.87.63.76MediumNo
Illustrious 18
Comparison of Blackjack Card Counting Systems

List of Card Counting Systems

Here is a list of the most common card counting systems along with a brief about how each system work in a real casino scenario.

Hi-Lo 

The Hi-Lo system is the most popular of all card counting techniques. Based on Edward Thorp’s Ten-Count system, this strategy is suitable for both beginners as well as intermediate players.

In this, the cards 2-6 are assigned +1, and the 10, Ace, and other face cards, which are also referred to as the high cards, are marked -1. The in-between cards are marked 0. Now, as an example, if the blackjack player has tracked the King, 6, 10, 2, and Jack, his total count would be -1. The higher the positive number, the more high-value cards can be assumed to be remaining in the deck. First, the player gets a running count and then a true count by dividing this running count number with the number of decks remaining in the shoe.

Card RankValue
2+1
3+1
4+1
5+1
6+1
70
80
90
10-1
J-1
Q-1
K-1
A-1
High-Low (Hi-Lo) Card Counting System

Hi-Opt I

The Highly Optimum or Hi-Opt card counting system has two variations, Hi-Opt I and Hi-Opt II. Both use the same principle with Hi-Opt II being more advanced as a strategy.

In the Hi-Opt I system, cards 3-6 have a count of +1, cards 2, 7, 8, 9, A are considered 0, and cards 10, J, Q, K are assigned a count of -1.

Card RankValue
20
3+1
4+1
5+1
6+1
70
80
90
10-1
J-1
Q-1
K-1
A0
Highly Optimum I (Hi-Opt I) Card Counting System

Hi-Opt II

The Hi-Opt II is quite complex and in it, cards 4 and 5 are +2, 2, 3, 6, and 7 are +1, 8, 9, A are 0 and 10, J, Q, K are -2. The running count and true count are kept in the very same way. Because of the complexity of this technique, it is used by expert card counters only.

Card RankValue
2+1
3+1
4+2
5+2
6+1
7+1
80
90
10-2
J-2
Q-2
K-2
A0
Highly Optimum II (Hi-Opt II) Card Counting System

Knock Out

The Knock Out system also referred to as the K-O, is an easy card counting technique that is also suitable for beginners. This is an unbalanced system as the final count will not amount to a zero after all the cards have been dealt. This system is less accurate but hassle-free to memorize and use in a casino.

In this, the 10’s, Aces, Queens, Jacks, and King are assigned the value of -1 while cards 2-7 are assigned +1. The 8’s and 9’s, in this system, are marked 0.

For example, if the player tracks cards 3, 4, Jack, 9, 7, and Queen, his final count would be +1.

Card RankValue
2+1
3+1
4+1
5+1
6+1
7+1
80
90
10-1
J-1
Q-1
K-1
A-1
Knock Out (KO) Card Counting System

Red Seven

The Red Seven system of blackjack card counting is also suitable for beginners. The technique is based on the principle of high vs. low cards.

With this Red Seven card counting method, the high cards are marked -1 and the low-value cards are assigned a value of +1. The neutral 8’s and 9’s are 0. The specialty of this system is that color plays an important role in the 7’s, which is also why it’s named Red Seven. Accordingly, if the 7 is red, it is low value and +1 and if it is black, it is considered neutral.

As an example, if the player has been able to track cards 3, 4, Jack, 7 Red, 9, 6, and 8, he will get a running count of +4. If there are 2 decks remaining to be dealt, the count would be +2. The higher the final count, the better it is for the players.

Card RankValue
2-1
3-1
4-1
5-1
6-1
7 Red+1
7 Black0
80
90
10-1
J-1
Q-1
K-1
A-1
Red Seven Card Counting System

Omega II

The Omega II is among the card counting techniques, suitable for intermediate card counters. It is a complex multi-level system where some cards are 2 points and some others are 1 point.

According to this system, cards 2, 3, and 7 have a value of +1 while the low cards such as 4, 5, and 6 are marked as +2. 9 is -1 while the 10’s and the face cards are -2. The Aces and the 8’s, on the other hand, are counted as 0. This is a balanced card counting system which implies that players can arrive at 0 once all the cards have been dealt and if they have been able to keep the count correctly.

Let’s take an example. Suppose you have been keeping a running count of 2, 6, Queen, 4, and 8. These will give you a running count of +3 and if there are 2 decks remaining in the shoe, the count would be 1, 5.

Card RankValue
2+1
3+1
4+2
5+2
6+2
7+1
80
9-1
10-2
J-2
Q-2
K-2
A0
Omega II Card Counting System

Ace/Five

The Ace/Five count is also easy for beginner blackjack card counters. All that the player has to do in this system is add 1 for each dealt 5-value card that he notices, right from the beginning of the first deck, starting from 0.

When an Ace is dealt, he needs to just subtract 1 from this sum. If the final count is 2 or more, the bet amount can be doubled while a count of 1 or lower indicates that the player should avoid placing high bets. With a small edge of 1% though, the ace/five count system is quite simplistic and can be used even by inexperienced card counters.

Card RankValue
20
30
40
5+1
60
70
80
90
100
J0
Q0
K0
A-1
Ace Five Card Counting System

Zen Count

The Zen Count is another two-level card counting system.

In this, cards 4 to 6 are assigned a value of +2, cards 2, 3, and 7 are assigned +1, 8 and 9 are 0, A is -1, and 10, J, Q, and K are counted as -2. With the Zen system, players get an easy way of assigning value to the cards and gaining an edge. However, the system is moderately complicated and has multiple subtleties. Therefore, it is also good for intermediate card counters in the field.

Card RankValue
2+1
3+1
4+2
5+2
6+2
7+1
80
90
10-2
J-2
Q-2
K-2
A-1
Zen Count Card Counting Technique

Halves

The Halves is one of the most complex and complicated card counting systems out there. It is a three-level blackjack card counting technique, which is suitable only for advanced and expert card counters.

In this, card 5 is counted as +1.5, cards 3, 4 and 6 are +1, cards 2 and 7 are +0.5, 8 is 0, 9 is -0.5 and 10, J, Q, K, A are -1. The values show how intricate this system is. However, when combined with the basic blackjack strategy, this technique is extremely accurate and can enable the player to get a significant edge over the casino.

Card RankValue
2+0.5
3+1
4+1
5+1.5
6+1
7+0.5
80
9-0.5
10-1
J-1
Q-1
K-1
A-1
Halves Card Counting Strategy

KISS

The KISS is a significantly simplified card counting system in the sense that instead of assigning point values to every card of the same rank; it just omits half of the cards in the deck. This not only eliminates the chances of the players getting confused but also reduces the burden of remembering so many assigned numbers.

The count is +1 for cards, 4, 5, 6, 0 for Aces, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9. Then, -1 for 10’s and the Face cards. The technique, however, is less used because of its lower level of efficiency in providing a statistical advantage to the counter.

Card RankValue
20
30
4+1
5+1
6+1
70
80
90
10-1
J-1
Q-1
K-1
A0
KISS I Card Counting Method

KISS II

The KISS II system is slightly more advanced than KISS I and offers a greater advantage to the card counter.

In it:

  • the 10’s and face cards are -1,
  • cards 3-6 are +1,
  • black 2’s get +1,
  • red 2’s get 0, and
  • and all remaining cards are 0.

It is a simple technique and therefore, ideally suited for beginners and single-deck blackjack games only.

Card RankValue
2 Red0
2 Black+1
3+1
4+1
5+1
6+1
70
80
90
10-1
J-1
Q-1
K-1
A-1
KISS II Card Counting Technique

KISS III

This is the most advanced and popular of all the KISS systems and it is especially, designed to meet the needs of a card counter. It is even suitable for being used in games with multiple decks of cards.

In this,

  • cards 3-7 are +1,
  • black 2’s are +1,
  • red 2’s are 0,
  • 8 and 9 are 0, and
  • 10’s, Aces and Face cards are all -1.

The system, though a bit complex, is actually efficient in providing players with a real edge over the house.

Card RankValue
2 Red0
2 Black+1
3+1
4+1
5+1
6+1
7+1
80
90
10-1
J-1
Q-1
K-1
A-1
KISS III Card Counting System

Wong Halves

The Wong Halves is one of the most complicated card counting systems out there. In this system, some of the values assigned to the cards are fractional, which makes keeping track of the running count and true count difficult for even the most experienced counters.

Wong Halves use the following tag values:

  • Aces, 10’s, and Face cards are counted as -1,
  • cards 2 and 7 are +0.5,
  • cards 3, 4 and 6 are +1,
  • card 5 is +1.5,
  • card 8 is 0, and
  • card 9 is -0.5.

The system takes a lot of time to learn and master though it does provide a great level of accuracy.

Card RankValue
2+0.5
3+1
4+1
5+1.5
6+1
7+0.5
80
9-0.5
10-1
J-1
Q-1
K-1
A-1
Wong Halves Card Counting System

J. Noir

The J. Noir card counting system is less used and much less popular than most of the other card counting techniques. In this, the tag value of -2 is used for 10’s and 2’s, and +1 for all the remaining cards (3 to 9).

This particular system is better at helping players to identify the situations to avoid than enabling them to recognize opportunities. Though the insurance correlation is high, this system is said to be less effective than the Hi-Lo system.

Card RankValue
2-2
31
41
51
61
71
81
91
10-2
J-2
Q-2
K-2
A-2
J. Noir Card Counting Method

Silver Fox

The Silver Fox system is an easy card counting system to learn and implement. The basic principle of the technique involves keeping a running count and eventually, a true count of the cards.

  • Players should start with a running count of 0.
  • With every 2-7 cards that the player sees, they will add 1 to this running count.
  • With 9, 10, Aces and the Face cards, he will subtract 1 from this count.
  • An 8 is worth 0 and does not affect the running tally.

This goes on till the player arrives at a true count. For instance, if his running count is +16 and there are 4 decks left in the shoe, then his total count would be +4. The Silver Fox system is very efficient in predicting when to bet more.

Card RankValue
2+1
3+1
4+1
5+1
6+1
7+1
80
9-1
10-1
J-1
Q-1
K-1
A-1
Silver Fox Card Counting System

Unbalanced Zen 2 (UBZ 2)

The Unbalanced Zen 2 (UBZ 2) system is an unbalanced card counting system that is slightly harder but also, more accurate than most other systems.

In this system:

  • aces are -1,
  • 2’s and 7’s are +1,
  • cards 3-6 are +2,
  • 8’s and 9’s are 0, and
  • 10’s are -2.

Like with the Hi-Lo system of card counting, the higher the count, the bigger the betting amount should be. The advantage of the UBZ 2 is that it has a betting correlation of 0.97, which is near perfect. Even the Insurance correlation is quite high at 0.84.

Card RankValue
2+1
3+2
4+2
5+2
6+2
7+1
80
90
10-2
J-2
Q-2
K-2
A-1
Unbalanced Zen 2 Card Counting Technique (UBZ 2)

Illustrious 18

The Illustrious 18 is basically a set of 18 extremely efficient variations of the basic blackjack strategy. These were invented by Don Schlesinger with the intention of helping players make the most of every hand by altering the basic strategy and combining it with the valuable information that card counting provides them with.

The illustrious 18 comes in the form of a chart that players need to fully understand and memorize before applying the strategy. Players also need to take into account the number of decks used in the game before using this system.

#PlayIndex NumberAction
1Insurance+3Pay for Insurance at +3 or higher
216 v 9+5Stand at +5 or higher
316 v 100Stand at 0 or higher
415 v 10+4Stand at +4 or higher
513 v 2-1Stand at -1 or higher; otherwise hit
613 v 3-2Stand at -2 or higher; otherwise hit
712 v 2+4Stand at +4 or higher
812 v 3+2Stand at +2 or higher
912 v 40Stand at 0 or higher
1012 v 5-1Stand at -1 or higher; otherwise hit
1112 v 6-1/-3*Stand at -1/-3 or higher; otherwise hit
1211 v A+1/-1Double down at +1/-1 or higher
1310 v 10+4Double down at +4 or higher
1410 v A+4/+3Double down at +4/+3 or higher
159 v 2+1Double down at +1 or higher
169 v 7+4Double down at +4 or higher
1710-10 v 5+5Split at +5 or higher
1810-10 v 6+5Split at +5 or higher
Illustrious 18 (*when two indices are displayed, the second index is for H17 games)

Revere Point Count (RPC)

The Revere Point Count system, introduced by Lawrence Reverie, is a two-level card counting system that is designed for slightly advanced blackjack players.

In this system:

  • A’s and 10’s are assigned -2,
  • cards 3-6 are +2,
  • cards 2 & 7 are +1, and
  • 8’s and 9’s are 0.

This system is particularly effective for single-deck blackjack games. However, in spite of being a not-so-advanced technique, the Reverie Point Count system is quite effective, indicated by the betting correlation, which is about 0.99.

Card RankValue
2+1
3+2
4+2
5+2
6+2
7+1
80
90
10-2
J-2
Q-2
K-2
A-2
Revere Point Count (RPC) Card Counting Method

Uston Advanced Point Count

The Uston Advanced Point Count system, named after the famous Ken Uston, is a very complex and advanced card counting technique that also takes into account, the side count of aces.

While the cards are assigned with different values depending on the 1st hand or 2nd hand of the player, the Uston APC system also requires the players to vary their strategy based on the current true count, to convert the current running count to true count as well as to use the side-count of aces to adjust the wager.

With APC, Insurance must be taken every time the count is higher than +2.

Card RankValue
2+1
3+2
4+2
5+3
6+2
7+2
8+1
9-1
10+3
J+3
Q+3
K-3
A0
Uston Advanced Point Count Card Counting System (Uston ADP)

Canfield Expert System

The Canfield Expert System is a single-level card counting strategy, popularized by Richard Canfield.

In this system, the aces, 2’s, and 8’s are all assigned 0 while cards 3 -7 are worth +1. The 9’s and 10’s are worth -1, on the other hand. This is a balanced system as there are the same numbers of positive and negative values. The Canfield Expert system is, however, suitable only for single-deck games.

Card RankValue
20
3+1
4+1
5+1
6+1
7+1
80
9-1
10-1
J-1
Q-1
K-1
A0
Canfield Expert System of Card Counting

There is another advanced level of this system known as the Canfield Master System.

Best Card Counting Systems for Novices

Blackjack players who are just beginning to practice card counting should start with simple systems such as the Hi-Lo and the Ace/Five count. The Hi-Lo system is a great way of learning to keep count of the cards by assigning values and also understanding the concept of high value and low-value cards in card counting. Similarly, in the ace/five count system, players just need to track the Aces and Fives in the deck. Even with these simple systems, players can gain an edge of 1% to 1.5% in a round of blackjack.

Card Counting Systems: FAQ

Answers to the most common questions about the different card counting methods in Blackjack.

What is a card counting system?

A card counting system is a particular technique with which blackjack players can count cards and gain a systematic edge over the casino in a round of the game.

How can any card counting system help a blackjack player?

Card counting systems give a proper direction and a method to be used by professional card counters. With this system, players can keep a running count and true count of the cards and hence, decide on the optimum playing action and bet amount.

Do you need to have a degree in math or programming to use any card counting system?

No, players can count cards even with basic knowledge of calculation. This is because most of the card counting systems in the list are simplistic and designed for beginners.

Where can I practice any card counting system?

Card counters can practice these systems and techniques by playing free online blackjack games using real decks of cards.

Is any card counting system worth learning?

Yes, it is definitely worth learning one or more card counting systems because card counting, if done in the right way, can significantly increase a player’s edge.

That is mostly all about the different blackjack card counting systems and the way they are used by players. Choosing one will totally depend upon the player’s proficiency in card counting techniques and other factors such as the number of decks being used, the particular blackjack variant being played, and so on.