Blackjack Card Counting System-Red 7 Count

The Red 7 card counting-system is known to be very simple to learn, yet powerful enough to provide professional-level efficiency.

It was developed by blackjack guru Arnold Snyder and released in his book Blackbelt in Blackjack in 1983.

How it works

You definitely need to know basic blackjack strategy, because this system does take into consideration strategic moves at times.

In many other systems, running count is the determining factor on when to raise or lower your bet.  With Red 7, running count and elements of blackjack strategy are combined to make informed decisions.

There are only 3 card values: -1, 0 or +1 and your count continues until there is a shuffle, but your count will not always start at zero.

It is an unbalanced system (meaning if you were to count down a deck, you would not end at zero) and your starting count will depend on the number of decks being used.  That is known as the Initial Running Count or IRC.

The IRC with this system is figured at:

  • One deck – starting count is -2
  • Two decks – starting count is -4
  • Four decks – starting count is -8
  • Six decks – starting count is -12
  • Eight decks – starting count is -16

The IRC formula for those starting counts is the number of decks x 2 and then make it negative.  Easy to remember.

Because this adjustment is made to start, there is no need for a true count, making it an easier system to implement, because of no necessary dividing.

The card value chart is:

+1 +1+1+1+1 +1/000 -1-1-1-1 -1

While the thought of having to keep track of the color of 7’s that drop may seem scary, it will easily become second nature with a little practice.

As with all counting systems, the higher the count, the more you should bet.

Sizing your bets

The most common sizing with this system, is to use the running count as a multiplier.  For example, if the running count is +4, your bet should be 4 times the table minimum.  Conversely, if the running count is +1 or less, your bet should remain the table minimum.

Another way to size your bet is by tiers.  For instance, if your running count is +2 to +3, you’d bet 2 times the minimum.  If it’s +4 – +5, you’d bet 3 times the minimum.  You can determine the specific tier to choose, plus the multiplier, but you want keep it moderate.  Tier sizing is not as aggressive and therefore less detectable by the casino.

Snyder, the developer of the system, suggests that you can multiply your bet by 2 when the running count is 0.  Depending on the number of decks in play, that multiplier will increase as the count gets higher.   You can find his suggested chart here.

The general idea is to bet enough, with the advantage, to cover the cost of the smaller minimum bets or “waiting bets.”

The method you choose to size your bet should totally be determined by what fits your individual needs.  Using a system is beneficial in that it will keep your wins and losses to maximums and minimums, while misdirecting the fact that you’re counting cards.

Using blackjack strategy with Red 7 count

You first have to understand the pivot point.  This is the point, in card counting, when the deck becomes favorable to the player.  With most systems that start with a zero count, the pivot point is +3, +4 or +5. 

Basically, because the count starts at a negative number with this system, the pivot point is at +1, once into positive territory. The deck must become very favorable (a bunch of low cards must be dealt) before the pivot point is reached, with this system, leaving little chance to be fooled by a temporary swing of the cards.

Additional strategies to work with:

  • If the running count is 0 or higher, stand with 16 against a dealer 10
  • If the running count is 0 or higher, stand with 12 against a dealer 3
  • If the running count is +2 or higher, stand with 15 against a dealer 10
  • If the running count is +2 or higher, stand with a 12 against a dealer 2
  • If the running count is +2 of higher, double down on a 10 total against a dealer ace
  • In 1 or 2 deck game, if the running count is 0 or higher, take insurance
  • In a shoe game, if the running count is +2 or higher, take insurance

If you know basic strategy, the above moves are against basic strategy, but the knowledge that there are more high cards at those times, changes the strategy.

Final Thoughts

The Red 7 Count system is another easy card counting system to learn that is great for beginners.  While it has factors that require knowledge of basic strategy, it shouldn’t deter you from learning it.  All card counting systems work best with basic strategy knowledge.


Blackjack Card Counting System-KO Count

KO stands for Knock Out Count system and is another great system for beginners to learn because it is simple, yet effective.

It was developed in 1998 by Ken Fuchs and Olaf Vancura.

How it works

Like in the KISS systems, a running count is used instead of a true count, so there is no division necessary to get a true count.

There are only 3 card values: -1, 0 or +1 and your count continues until there is a shuffle, but your count will not always start at zero.

The starting count is determined by the number of decks being used.  That is called the IRC or Initial Running Count.  If you’re playing a single deck game, the count starts at zero, however if 2 decks are used, you start at -4, if 6 decks are used, the count starts at -20, and with 8 decks, the count starts at -28. 

The IRC formula for those starting numbers is: -4 x (Total Number of decks -1). So for 2 decks, it’s -4 x (2-1) = -4, and for 8 decks, it’s -4 x (8-1) = -28

The card value chart is:

+1 +1+1+1+1 +100 -1-1-1-1 -1

This is considered an unbalanced system because if you counted through an entire deck using those values, you would end up with +4.

As with all counting systems, the higher the count, the more you should bet.

Sizing your bets

A betting spread of 1 to 5 units is most commonly used with this system.  The running count is used as the multiplier of the table minimum bet.

For example, if you’re at a $5 minimum table and your card count is +3, your bet should be $15.  This keeps you at a minimum bet unless the count gets to +2, where you would want to bet $10.  The most you would bet would be 5 times the table minimum.

There are other common spread betting systems used with card counting that will take the multiplier from 1-6 or even 1-12 for 6-8 deck games.

The use of a spread betting system is beneficial in that it minimizes and maximizes your losses and wins, while helping to disguise the fact that you’re a card counter.

Final Thoughts

The KO Count system is one of the easiest card counting systems to learn and use, therefore great for beginners.  It works in a similar manner to many other systems, so it can be easily switched to from other systems.

It was developed to be simple and effective, which it is.  It is not as accurate as some other systems, but it is for beginners and if you’re looking for more accuracy, go with a more difficult system, there are plenty out there.  It will give you, to some extent, the ability to predict the upcoming cards.

Blackjack Card Counting System-KISS Systems

There are actually 3 different Kiss systems, with Kiss 1 being the most simple.  KISS stands for Keep It Short and Simple.  These systems are said to be great for beginners because they are easy to learn.

Fundamentals of the KISS systems

The most appealing part of these systems is that a running count is used instead of a true count.  This means there is no heavy division necessary to keep track of the cards.

There are only 3 card values: -1, 0 or +1. Your count starts at zero and continues until there is a shuffle, when your count resets to zero.

These are classified as unbalanced systems, which means if you count down a deck, you won’t necessarily end at zero.  The unbalance occurs because there is an uneven number of positive and negative valued cards. (in Kiss 1, 4 cards count as +1, only 3 cards count as -1)

As with all card counting systems, the goal of the KISS systems, is to help you know when you should increase your bets, because there is a greater chance to hit a blackjack.  If the count is high, bet more, if the count is low or negative, stay at the minimum bet.

Kiss 1 System

This is the simplest of the 3 systems because you have to track the least number of cards.

The card value chart is:

0 /+1 0+1+1+1  000 0-1-1-10

If it is a red 2, the value is 0, if it’s a black 2, the value is +1.  That may be the most difficult thing to remember.

The only cards you need to keep track of are: Black 2, 4, 5, 6, J, Q, & K.  This system eliminates almost half the deck, making it easier to keep a running count.

It doesn’t matter how many decks are used, but it does work better with fewer decks.

Kiss 2 System

If you’re looking for a little more accuracy, the Kiss 2 will give you that by adding 2 more cards to keep track of, being 3’s and 10’s.

The card value chart is:

0 /+1 +1+1+1+1  000 -1-1-1-10

It remains an unbalanced counting system because you’re only tracking black 2’s.

If you are comfortable with Kiss 1, it shouldn’t be too difficult to step up to the next level of Kiss 2.

Kiss 3 System

As suspected, Kiss 3 increases the accuracy even more because it add’s 7’s and Aces to the count.  A seven will add 1 to the count and an ace will subtract 1 from the count.

The card value chart is:

0 /+1 +1+1+1+1 +100 -1-1-1-1-1

As you can see, you have to keep track of the most cards with this system, so it would be more difficult to implement, but also the most accurate.

This is the version that is best suitable for multiple deck games.

Sizing your bets

An easy rule of thumb, or suggestion, about sizing your bets with these systems is to use the running count as a multiplier of the table minimum bet.

For example, if you’re at a $5 minimum table and your card count is +3, your bet should be $15.  This keeps you at a minimum bet unless the count gets to +2, where you would want to bet $10.

Using this method should keep you under the radar of any “eye in the sky” surveillance hunting for card counters, because your bet range should not have wild swings.

Final Thoughts

From the name alone, you would guess this should be an easy system for beginners to use and it is.  It’s fast and simple to learn, with not much math at all.  Using the Kiss system changes the house advantage by a minimum .48%, enough to make a positive difference in a good session of blackjack.

With 3 versions of the Kiss system, you as a beginner, can start at whatever level you want.  You decide how serious you want your game play to be and you can decide how much of an advantage you want to create for yourself.  The KISS systems are very simple, and depending on the level, can be very efficient and effective.

Blackjack Card Counting System-Hi-Opt II

As you might imagine, the Hi-Opt II system takes the Hi-Opt I to the next level, with new point values that make it more accurate and more efficient.

It was created by Lance Humble and and Julian Braun for the more advanced player.  It involves a little more work (math) to keep track of the count, but that’s why it’s more effective.

Difference between Hi-Opt II & Hi-Opt I

The main difference is the range of values. In Hi-Opt II, the card values are set at -2, -1, 0, +1, or +2, making it harder to track the count.  An additional difference is that the 2 and the 7 have values in the Hi-Opt II system, but not in the Hi-Opt I system.

How it works

Because it is a balanced system, you will start your count at zero.  As you look at the chart below, there are not multiple cards that cancel each other out, like in Hi-Opt I.  Because of that, you definitely spend more time calculating the running total as the cards are dealt.  You will definitely have to focused on the table and the cards.

Each card is assigned a value of -2, 0, or +2.  The chart of values is:

+1+1+2+2+1+100 -2-2-2-20

You need to keep track of the true count, the running count divided by the estimate of the remaining decks. A true count is preferred over a running count because it can reduce the house edge by that fraction of a percentage more that can make a big difference in high level play.  A true count better reflects the nature of the remaining deck.

Because the system is more accurate, once the true count becomes positive, you can start to increase your bet and as long as it stays positive, bet more than minimum allowed.  

The advantage of counting cards is knowing when it’s beneficial to make a larger bet.  The higher the positive count, the more your bet should be.  Once the true count gets down to zero or less, you drop back to making the minimum bet.

Reckoning Aces

Although aces are given a value of zero for the running count, you still want to keep track of them, which is another reason this system is considered advanced and more difficult.

Keeping track of aces can be a vital part of this system. If you consider there are 24 aces in a 6 deck game (6 x4) or 32 aces in an 8 deck game, and you have a very high true count, combined with a deck where very few aces have dropped, there is a higher chance of hitting a blackjack.  In that case, you want to be sure to be betting bigger.  

Final Thoughts

The Hi Opt II system is not for a beginner player. It requires more concentration and more additional steps than Hi-Opt I for instance.  To use this system, you should already have a clear efficiency in basic card counting.  If you are proficient in basic card counting and looking for a more precise method, check this one out.

Blackjack Card Counting System-Hi Opt I

The origin of the Hi Opt I (aka Highly Optimum) begins with Carl Cooper and Lance Humble, in the 1980 book, “The World’s Greatest Blackjack Book,” making a few adjustments to the Einstein count.  Humble also teamed with Julian Braun to make a few more adjustments and create the more complex Hi-Opt II count.

The Einstein count was developed in 1968 by Charles Einstein as an improvement to the very popular Edward Thorp Hi-Lo count. Therefore Einstein is basically credited with the formulation of the Hi-Opt I count.

There is more math involved, along with additional rules and card value changes that make it more accurate than the Hi-Lo count system.

How it works

Because it is a balanced system, you want to be sure to start your count at zero.  It also works best for single deck games. As each card is dealt, you change your count according to the value assigned to the cards.

Each card is assigned a value of -1, 0, or +1.  The chart of values is:


You need to keep track of the true count, the running count divided by the estimate of the remaining decks.

You start betting with the minimum bet and once your true count becomes +1 or better, you can start to gradually increase your bet size.  Of course you want to keep your bet increases to a moderate level, so as not to draw attention to the fact you feel the cards are favorable.

When the count is positive, your chances of hitting a blackjack are increased and therefore you want to bet more, to take advantage of the 3:2 blackjack payoff.  Obviously when the count is negative, bet the minimum because it unlikely you’ll hit a blackjack.

Ace tracking is not really a part of this system, but if you haven’t seen any aces dealt, leaving the deck high in aces, you can figure there is definitely a better opportunity for a blackjack and therefore make your bet higher.

System Classification

It is a moderately advanced balanced system.  If you were to count down a 52 card pack of cards, it would start and end with 0.

Final Thoughts

The Hi Opt I system is not hard to master, with the toughest part being able to correctly figure out your true count. It is because of the extra math involved, that beginners leave this system for the more advanced players who appreciate the extra advantage gained.  The most probable reason it is not more highly used, is because it was originally developed to be used with single deck games, which are hard to find now.

Blackjack Card Counting System-Hi-Lo Count

This is probably the most popular card counting system used in blackjack.    It was introduced by Harvey Dubner in 1963, as a remake of Edward Thorp’s Ten-Count card counting system.

It is also known as the Plus/Minus system and is widely used by recreational players because it’s easy to learn and one can be ready to use it at a blackjack table after only a couple hours of practice.

System Classification

The Hi-Low system is classified as a balanced system because if you count out a full deck of cards, you will end at 0.  It is basically a way to keep track of the high cards left in the deck.

How it Works

Once a shuffle has been completed and the game starts with a new deck, the count starts at 0.  Each card is assigned a value of either -1, 0, or +1.

The chart of values is:


A running count is kept as the cards are dealt.  As each card is dealt, you either add 1, subtract 1 or do nothing to the count. That establishes the running count, which then needs to be converted to the true count.

A true count is a more accurate representation of the card values in a shoe. The true count is used when you’re dealing with more than one deck of cards, as in a game using a shoe to deal cards. It is calculated by the running count divided by the estimated decks remaining in the shoe.

A true count conversion is not necessary with a single deck game, because the running count is pretty accurate with one deck, when using a balanced counting system.

Figuring out the true count is what beginners fear, but it really isn’t that hard because you only have to estimate the number of remaining decks.  At most, casinos are going to use an 8 deck shoe, so if it looks like you’ve played halfway through the shoe, there are approximately 4 decks remaining and you would divide your running count by 4.

When your true count is at 2, you can think about increasing your bet.  When it increases more than that, continue increasing your bet upwards because the deck is very favorable. 

However, don’t make huge increases in your bets if the count keeps going up or you will draw unwanted attention as a card counter. 

With this system, and a true count of +1 or lower, it is suggested that minimum bets should be made.

Why Card Counting Helps

Once you get comfortable with this system and are able to keep an accurate true count, you can change your basic strategy moves because of the added knowledge you have about the remaining cards.  You are able to turn losing decisions into profitable ones.  For instance, if you have a ten/2 against the dealer’s 2, if the true count is +3, it would be better to stand, instead of hitting it, as basic strategy instructs.  With that +3 count, you know that there are many more high cards than low cards, meaning you have a better chance of busting.

Decisions like that can be made because of a table of “index numbers,” developed by the blackjack expert Stanford Wong.  The index numbers dictate the point at which basic strategy play for a specific decision changes.  There are several different index number tables, but the 2 mostly used with the Hi-Lo system are the Illustrious 18 and the Fab 4, which you can find the full index number tables here.

Even the simplest card counting system makes basic strategy more effective because basic strategy assumes the next card drawn will be a 10.  If you know for sure the deck is rich in 10’s, you know the play determined by basic strategy will definitely be the optimal play.

If you bet in line with the true count, you can raise your bet at times win the cards are in your favor and just bet the minimum when you know the cards are unfavorable.  As mentioned earlier though, you have to control your raised bets in order to not draw the attention of casino staff.  You do want to greedy real quick.


Basic strategy must be perfected first before using any card counting system. This Hi-Lo system is popular because the basics are easy.  The challenge comes from adding the true count and the index numbers. There are players who use it without considering the index numbers, and doing that is better than not card counting at all.  Others stay away because they have a hard time calculating the true count, an important part of the system.  Fortunately, there are other card counting systems that don’t require a true count.  If you take the time to learn it and practice it, it’s an effective system.