There are many card counting techniques that you can use to gain an advantage over the house. However, the best card counting system for 6 decks may not be applicable for other shoe games. In this post, we’re going to use one of the easiest systems that work for all number of decks. The Knock Out card counting system, an unbalanced yet promising method for blackjack players.
This card counting system was first used in 1992 and was known as the All Sevens system. As an unbalanced system, this takes away the need to convert the running count into a true count.
The Knock Out card counting system is very simple to use and there are some cards that won’t be used. Some say that this is the same – or sometimes superior – with the traditional Hi-Lo system. But whatever the performance is, you always have to practice first before applying the strategy to an actual casino.
What is the Knock Out card counting system?
The reason why it’s called the ‘Knock Out’ system is quite vague but it started in 1992. The whole method was documented in the book ‘Knockout Blackjack’ by Ken Fuchs and Olaf Vancura. This makes some blackjack enthusiasts assume that ‘KO’ is actually the initials of Ken and Olaf.
The premise of the system is similar to the Hi-Lo card counting method where you add or subtract 1 depending on the cards being dealt. And like the mentioned method, there are cards that can be ignored since it has the value of zero.
As a simple system, this is very easy to learn and apply on actual games. Unlike other unbalanced systems, the starting count is 0 and should end with a +4 if you run the count properly. This is the best way to count cards in blackjack and can work for a range of decks. However, you’ll have to use a different starting count.
For example, for two-deck games, you’ll start with a count of -4. If you’re playing with six decks on, you’ll have to start with a count of -20 then -28 for eight-deck tables.
It’s important and imperative to set the starting count properly before joining the match. Any ruined count will mess up your card counting practice.
The proponents of the card counting system attest to KO’s accuracy. Still, some contest that it’s not as effective as other methods.
Still, the fact that it skips the conversion of the true count is a big benefit. Here, we discussed the method in length together with the betting and playing deviations it comes with.
Who should use this system?
Almost anyone can use this system. Moreover, it’s ideal for players who are just starting in blackjack and still learning the ropes of card counting. For those who have a background with the Hi-Lo system, the KO will be a piece of cake to learn.
If you want to increase your edge over the casino without a Mensa-level of calculations, the KO system is one of the best options. It’s simple, straightforward, and a no-fuss technique.
Pros and cons
All card counting methods come with their advantages and disadvantages. First of all, the KO system is very beneficial for beginners in the sense that it makes the card counting task easy. KO also becomes a solid springboard to explore other card counting methods. It’s also the best card counting system for 6 decks.
Still, I recognize the fact that not all card counters would like to stick to this method alone. Of course, there’s a lot of room to grow if you’re playing blackjack. But if you want to be a well-rounded player, you may also benefit from the Knock Out system.
Here are some of the pros and cons to help you consider:
Is this better than the Hi-Lo method?
Experts compared the deck penetration and performance of the KO system in contrast to the classic Hi-Lo method. Overall, the accuracy level of KO runs between 99.5% and 102% as compared to the Hi-Lo count.
This is promising. So if we are to decide whether which is better, it’s a bit difficult to say until you’ve tried it in your own game.
Personally, I’m a fan of the Hi-Lo count. Once you mastered it, the system opens other possibilities of learning more methods.
In short, the efficiency of the system depends on how you practice it. Check which one works better for your game and work your way from there.
How to use the KO card counting system
Basically, the Knock Out system carries the same principles of other card counting methods. There are card values assigned to each of the face-values. Also, when the running count is high and positive, the edge is on the side of the player. Otherwise, the house rules.
Here are the card value table if you are going to use this as the best way to count cards in blackjack:
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7: +1
8 and 9: 0
10, J, Q, K, and Ace: -1
As you see, these values are almost similar to the Hi-Lo system. The single-level computation will make it easier. Also, the fact that it’s not a color-specific count (see KISS system and Red Seven system) makes it less of a task for card counters.
The main difference of the KO system to Hi-Lo is that the 7 card has the value of +1 on the latter. It’s in line with the British influence in blackjack known as the All Sevens which is somewhat similar to KO.
Nevertheless, KO is the best card counting system for 6 decks.
Once you know the values, all you have to do is add, subtract, or add nothing based on the cards being dealt.
By the time you count the last card, the end value should be +4. But since shoe games won’t use all the cards, it will be difficult to check if you’re doing it right. Practice is the key here.
The good thing about the KO system is that it’s not just about keeping track of the deck. There are also betting and playing deviations based on the value of the count.
This also makes the accuracy of your count important. If you mess up the running count, your deviations will be affected which may make or break your game.
Bet amounts will depend on your betting spread and how much you’re going to allot for every betting unit. This is the best way to count cards in blackjack only if you know how to manage your bankroll.
But in general, it’s ideal to increase your bets when the running count is high. However, if it’s closing down to +2, you should stick to the minimum bets you’re placing. If the betting deviation for KO is a bit vague for you, I recommend that you read Fuchs and Vancura’s book for a comprehensive take on managing your bankroll.
I always recommend that you set your betting units even before you play. This way, you can calculate ahead your possible losses and gains.
Here are some of the betting deviations recommended for the KO system:
🎴If playing on SINGLE DECK games: When the running count is 0 or higher, stick to the table minimum
🎴If playing on SIX DECK games: Once the running count is -3, stick to the table minimum
These are just the basic stipulations on Fuchs and Vancura’s book. Feel free to read the book further to have a holistic knowledge of the system.
When using the KO system, you can actually make money by just adjusting the bets. You can always stick to the basic strategy to keep things simple. With this, you’re going to get up to 70% of the edge while playing for the money. It’s the best card counting system for 6 decks which is great for serious players.
You can also opt for a more advanced card counting system if you are bent to earn more money. By far, KO is very simple and accurate. Still, you can use something better if you want to up your game.
Take note, the KO system isn’t the most accurate card counting method that you can use. Still, it doesn’t mean that it’s a lost cause. Since it shares a big similarity to Hi-Lo, experts will agree that this is a promising start for those who want to learn blackjack.
House edge when playing with the KO system
From the usual 0.5% advantage, you can turn the odds to your side for about 1% to 2% with the use of the KO system. If you practice well and play enough hands every game, you can earn substantial income from the Knock Out system.
Most card counting systems will provide this benefit or even a higher advantage for the players. Still, the KO method is enough for most newbies and casual players who want to skip the math.
How to practice the KO system
It’s imperative to practice this system in a different number of decks. This way, you’ll be prepared for whatever that’s offered in the casino.
Start with a single-deck and master the values first. Once you can count a deck in less than a minute, add one more deck and work your way up. Remember, it’s quite rare to find a blackjack table with a single-deck game. If there’s any, there will surely be an automatic shuffler to stymie your chances of card counting.
Aside from the cards you can ignore (8 and 9), there’s another technique that you can do to speed up your card counting. Learn how to spot cards that cancel each other. Those are the cards that have a value of +1 and -1.
Make sure that once you counted the deck, the end value is +4. If not, you’ve messed up the running count along the way. Repeat your practice until you perfect it.
For beginners, it’s easy to be frustrated whenever you fail to count the cards correctly. But like the most successful card counters of our time, it takes a lot of practice and patience.
Most expert KO counters can finish a deck in about 40 seconds.
The Knockout Blackjack Book
On their book entitled Knockout Blackjack Book, Ken Fuchs and Olaf Vancura detailed their scientifically and mathematically-devised card counting system. This was first published in 1998 but currently has a second edition with added tips.
The KO system as discussed in the book is aimed to make blackjack profitable regardless of where you play. It should work its wonders on Las Vegas, Mississippi, Atlantic City, and even in the Bahamas.
The second edition of the book is made simpler and easy to understand. With this, even total dummies can get their start with card counting without a lot of fuss.
In the book, two levels of KO system were discussed. The ‘KO Rookie’ is aimed to teach advantage play in just a few hours. This is ideal for newbie players who aren’t ready to deal with the advanced methods of the game.
Next, there’s the ‘KO Preferred’ which is best for professional and serious card counters. The methods here are on par with the latest trends in the card game. Once you’ve mastered the ‘KO Rookie’, you can freely advance to the ‘KO Preferred’.
Here’s Olaf Vancura discussing the revised edition of Knock out Blackjack and other gambling stuff:
The Knock Out method is the best card counting system for 6 decks and even a single-deck game. It’s simple and straightforward that card counters can master it in just a few hours. Still, if you want to enjoy the best results, you should always take your time practicing the method.
For beginners, the Knock Out system is ideal as it lets you learn a card counting sans the exhausting process of converting running counts to true counts. Meanwhile, professional card counters will also learn something from this basic system. But if you want to improve your skills, don’t settle for KO alone.