The Uston APC (Advanced Point Count) card counting system was developed by Ken Uston, and first published in his book, Million Dollar Blackjack, in 1981. He also has 2 other card counting systems named directly after him, the Uston APM and the Uston SS.
The Uston APC is heavily considered his greatest accomplishment and one of the most powerful and effective card counting systems around.
After the success of his APM (Advanced Plus/Minus) system, designed for beginners, he wanted to give the professional players something they could use and so, the APC was developed.
It is a level three system, being very complex and difficult to learn. It is not for a beginner player.
How it works
There are 7 card values: -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2 or +3. Your count starts at 0 and continues until there is a shuffle, where you again start the count at 0.
It is also a balanced system, meaning if you were to count down a deck, you would start and end at zero.
The card value chart is:
As seen in the chart above, there are not cards that easily cancel each other out, so the player has to pay more attention to the cards being dealt, in order to keep an accurate running count.
This system makes use of a true count, which adds to the difficulty of learning it. While the true count is not horribly difficult to figure out, it’s just another aspect of the system that makes it difficult and more involved.
For this system, this true count is calculated by dividing the running count by an estimate of the remaining decks in play. To quickly make that estimate while you’re at a live game, can be tricky. However, the use of a true count is what increases the efficacy of this system.
The other added difficulty is in tracking aces. While counting aces is not part of the system, because aces are valued at zero, you can increase the advantage of using this system by also keeping track of the aces on the side.
In order to keep track of aces, you would start by figuring out the total number of aces available (number of decks x 4). With a 6-deck game, it would be 24 aces(6×4). When an ace is dealt, you would subtract 1 from that total to keep an accurate count of the remaining aces.
Knowing the ace count, will help you decide whether to bet even more, when the true count is high and you know there are also a majority of aces still out. You can deduce there is a greater chance of blackjack in that situation and you would want to bet bigger.
Sizing your bets
At the start of play, your bet should be the table minimum. Using the counting system, as your true count goes up, your bet size should increase.
Deciding on a specific bet sizing system is best, because it will keep your wins and losses to maximums and minimums, thereby disguising the fact that you’re counting cards. Having a betting system will hopefully control the urge to wildly increase your bet size when the deck is extremely favorable.
One last advantage of using a counting system, is in terms of the insurance bet. Beginners are taught not make the insurance bet because it is a sucker bet. However, if you know the deck is full of tens, it will be more likely that the dealer would hit a blackjack, so it would be a bet to be made if you also have a blackjack.
It’s a bit funny that Ken Uston was known to say he doesn’t regularly use this system because of the difficulty. He admits there are far easier systems available, including his Uston APM and Uston SS that are quite effective, despite the simplicity. The statistical increased advantage of the APC is not big enough to justify the increased effort necessary to use this method.