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How You Can Knockout the Casino Using the K-O Card Counting System

May 20, 2014

knock-out-blackjack-200514K-O counting system

Finding the right card counting system seems to be the holy grail of blackjack strategy. While the Hi-Lo system might be the easiest, is it the best? We’re going to have a look at the K-O system to see how it can help your game of blackjack.

While the Hi-Lo system is the most popular and easiest to master of all the blackjack games, it’s not the most effective strategy to use to make the odds skew in your favor during a game of blackjack.

There are plenty of smart strategies and card counting methods out there to help you win at blackjack, but for now, we’re going to show you how to knock out a game of blackjack with the K-O card counting technique.

Top card counters:

• Edward Thorp was the author of the very first book on blackjack, “Beat the Dealer” and showed how card counting could be used

• Ken Uston is one of the most famous card counters, making his name in the 1970s

• MIT Blackjack Team became infamous for their group abilities to break the casinos, and their endeavors were even made into a move starring Kevin Spacey (21)

• Tommy Hyland is the manager of the world’s longest running blackjack team

What is the K-O system?

The Knock-Out System, frequently abbreviated to K-O, is a single level and single parameter count. It’s a highly effective method of card counting and only entails a bare minimum of strategy.

Unlike the Hi-Lo method, which requires the card counter to divide the count by the number of decks used, the K-O method’s unbalanced nature eliminates the need to convert the value into a true count.

Like most card counting methods, you’ll need to recognize which cards help or hurt the player. As any blackjack player knows, eliminating the deck from low cards skews the edge towards their favor, since it’s in the player’s advantage to have a deck rich in high cards.

In Hi-Lo, cards 2-6 are assigned the value of +1, and 10 through to ace are -1, middle cards are zero, but in the K-O system, there sum of the cards does not add to zero (like in the Hi-Lo), since it’s an unbalanced system.

However, it is this unbalanced count that makes K-O so powerful in giving players a complex true-count conversion.

How does the K-O System work?

The K-O System doesn’t result in a zero at the end of a deck or shoe, but other than that there are some similarities to the Hi-Lo count, in that the numbers still use the -1, 0 +1 system.

In the K-O System, the cards 2 through to 7 are assigned the values of +1, and like the Hi-Lo System 10 to Ace are -1. Only the 8 and the 9 cards are given the value 0.

The other difference is there is no need to divide the count by the number of decks in the shoe to get a true count.

Of course, like with any counting system, the effectiveness depends on the bet spread used and the amount of decks.

You can make a good profit with the K-O count if you apply a wide bet spread when playing with a low amount of decks.

When the count is set to above +2, then you know you have the advantage and you can bet accordingly, under +2, the house has the advantage.

Playing blackjack with KO effectively

One of the key things while card counting is that you will still need to apply basic strategy. Card counting only helps you to know when to bet big or small, but blackjack strategy is still important in any game.

However, the rules shift slightly for card counters. Normally, taking insurance when the dealer has an ace showing is a no-no in most basic strategy bibles, but in card counting, things are skewed in our favor.

The count will help you to determine whether insurance is worth it or not, which could play to your advantage.

How effective is card counting?

Mastering the K-O system will give you an advantage of 1-2% over the house, so for every $1000 you bet, assuming an hour of playing the game and a betting spread ranging from $10 to $50, you can expect to win $10 to $20.

Of course, the secret to taking home the winnings depends on the bet size.

However, forgetting movies like Rain Man perpetuating the myth that card counting will result in you taking home hundreds of thousands of dollars in a night, card counting is about the long haul.

You need to play for a long period of a fair game to see the results of the count towards the end.

Finding a casino with fair rules and good deck penetration are also important factors for making card counting work for you, and it’s important to make sure the casino do not figure out your game play.

But unless you strike gold and start taking home millions a night, the casino will just assume it has the upper hand at all times.


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