Many blackjack players say that the only way to bring the house down is to count cards. With the limitations of the basic strategy, this is actually true. In fact, blackjack legends have devised their card counting methods which helped them earn thousands – if not millions – of dollars during their heydays. One of these is the famous Omega II card counting method.
The Omega II method is the brainchild of Bryce Carlson, a blackjack grandmaster whose aim is to defeat the casinos. In the 1970s, he’s popular in many casinos across America due to his winning strategies. For over 40 years, Bryce played blackjack and came up with the widely used card counting method.
Aside from the method, he also developed the Omega II Blackjack Machine. It’s a card counting software that helps players improve their skills.
What is the Omega II method?
Unlike the Hi-Lo method, Omega II is more in-depth and requires a good grasp of the card game. It is complex in nature and will need a lot of time to master. But even if it’s quite a difficult and challenging method, nothing beats the accuracy that it comes with.
If playing in a multiple-deck table, there would be two processes when using the Omega II system: the running count and true count. This is also used in the Hi-Lo method.
As a multi-level system, you’ll have better odds of winning if you also count Aces on the side while keeping track of the running or true count. Below, we’ve discussed how to side count Aces.
The comprehensive guide to the Omega II system is documented in Bryce Carlson’s book titled Blackjack for Blood. This was first published in 2001 and still available nowadays on e-book and physical copies. If you wish to study the Omega II system at the highest level, I suggest that you take the time to read the book.
As much as this is a difficult method to master, the hard work is definitely worth it. This has a betting correlation of 0.92 if you’re not going to count Aces on the side. But if you’re good enough to keep up with the Aces, the betting correlation is at a very promising 0.99.
The challenging part here is managing the count and keeping your focus. With different things going on in your head, this will require a lot of practice. Remember, you’ll have to keep a running count, convert it to a true count, count Aces on the side, and play your hand. That’s multi-tasking at its best.
Pros and cons
The good thing about the Omega II system is it’s been tried and tested for years now. But if you’re thinking twice about using this method, you can check these pros and cons:
Most of the downsides on this method roots from the fact that it’s a complex system. But personally, we can’t contest Bryce Carlson’s ingenious work. He’s a blackjack expert and if he can perform the Omega II seamlessly, more modern players can do the same thing.
Besides, the hard work will pay off in the end. Remember, good things are hard to get. As much as you’ll need a lot of time and exert effort to learn it, the Omega II is way better than the Hi-Lo system in terms of results.
Who should use this card counting method?
This is ideal for professional blackjack players who are making a living out of the card game. If you are a newbie, it’s best to explore simpler methods like Hi-Lo and to master the basic strategy.
Seasoned players will benefit from this system but it will not be a piece of cake. Despite their experience and knowledge, it would need time, dedication, and patience to have a good grasp of the system.
Remember, to enjoy extreme accuracy, you have to pay extreme attention to the details.
Glossary of terms for the Omega II method
To make it easier for you to understand the system, we’ll define some terms first before we proceed with the principles of the system.
🃏Betting correlation – This refers to how the card counting system affects the advantage and disadvantage of the blackjack player during a game. If the betting correlation is high, the system is more accurate. Still, betting correlations are mere approximations and like what it’s called, a ‘correlation’.
🃏Balanced and unbalanced – These two terms refer to the outcome of the card counting strategy. A balanced card counting strategy will have a 0 value if the count is correct. Meanwhile, the unbalanced systems will have a different value which may jeopardize the accuracy of the results.
🃏Running count – Running count is the ongoing value of the cards without taking into account the number of decks in the shoe.
🃏True count – This is derived by dividing the running count to the number of decks in the shoe. True counts are important for multi-deck games.
🃏Side count – This is the count you’re doing while you keep a running count. In the Omega II, this is done for the Aces.
🃏Levels – Card counting systems can either be single-level or multi-level. The likes of Hi-Lo are a single-level method while the Omega II is multi-leveled. The cards can have a value of as low as -2. Usually, multi-level systems are more accurate but it will be difficult to master.
Let’s start with the card value. In the Omega II system, the 2, 3, and 7 cards have the value of +1. Meanwhile, 4, 5, and 6 have the value of +2.
The 8 and Ace have no value, meaning it’s counted as 0. On the other hand, 9 have a -1 value. Lastly, the 10-cards including 10, J, Q, and K all have the value of -2.
These values alone make the Omega II a challenging method. Imagine subtracting and adding larger values and you’ll know what I mean. In an actual casino setting, the counting should happen in a matter of seconds so card counters need to have a quick mind and laser-like focus.
Also, since the values are higher, the card counters are exposed to the possibility of messing up the count.
To give you an idea, here’s how the Omega II system is applied on an actual table:
How the Omega II works
All the basic rules in card counting apply to the Omega II system. When using this on your game, it’s always ideal to start the count on a new shoe right after the cards are shuffled. And like most card counting systems, this method would be futile if there’s an automatic shuffler.
Once the cards are being dealt, you will start assigning the values based on the card values I mentioned above. You’ll add, subtract, or do nothing depending on what’s on the table.
Remember, you have to do it fast or you’ll mess up the running count.
The same goes for all card counting systems but since the Omega II has a wider value range, it will need a lot of practice.
So what’s the appreciation on the true count? Just like in any card counting methods, your advantage becomes higher if the true count is positive, say +3 or +5. But when the true count dwindles to +1 or even -2, the edge is on the house which means you’re bound to lose.
Card counters will deviate from the basic strategy and betting norms depending on how rich the shoe is.
Remember, the Omega II system is a balanced system. This means that if you count up to the last card, your true count value should be 0. If not, you messed up the running count.
Still, not all cards will be used throughout the game. Usually, the cards will be shuffled once it reaches the assigned playability level. So whether you do it right or not, your winnings will determine.
Now, we will move on to the second process that goes on if you’re card counting using the Omega II system. While you keep track of the running count, you’ll count the Aces simultaneously. This increases the difficulty level of the system.
As much as performing a separate count is a pain in the ass, this increases the accuracy of the system. Like what I said earlier, it’s all worth the hassle. However, the fact that your mind will be divided into different processes means you’re more prone to mess up either of the counts.
So how does the Ace count works? Let’s say that you’re in an 8-deck table. Since every deck has 4 Aces, there would be 32 in the shoe (8 decks x 4 Aces per deck).
What you’ll do is count how many Aces have been dealt with. That way, you’ll know how many are left in the shoe which will affect your and the dealer’s chances of having a blackjack.
But aside from merely counting the Ace cards, you also count it as 0 on your running count. In short, you have nothing to add or subtract on your running count.
Keeping track of the Aces is said to increase the efficacy of the Omega II system by as much as 3%. Yes, it’s one heck of a task but boy, it’s worth it.
The more Aces left in the shoe, the higher your chance to get 3:2 pay for a natural blackjack.
Why you should use the Omega II system
If you really want to break Vegas, the Omega II system is the ideal card counting system. Sure thing, you can try other methods but given Bryce Carlson’s experience, you simply can’t deny his method’s accuracy.
Omega II is also a good way to upgrade your skills. By sharpening your mind through a more challenging method, you’re going to be a more rounded player.
It’s easier said than done but most pros will practice Omega II on their games.
Remember, this is 40 years of blackjack experience that you’ll be using. Bryce Carlson is considered a blackjack superstar and his methods are proven by many blackjack players of our time.
How to camouflage your card counting
Camouflaging card counting skills is a common concern of card counters. But with the intensity of the Omega II system, it might be difficult to play the part. You’ll be keeping a running count, counting Aces, playing hands, and you’ll try to look like a sucker player. That’s too many a task for a blackjack player.
It’s difficult but it’s not impossible. Years of practice will teach you how to trick pit bosses and dealers from discovering that you’re card counting.
Here are some tips for starters:
🃏Keep it low key. The biggest mistake of newbie card counters is attracting a lot of attention. Be casual and don’t dress like a nerd kid from college.
🃏Play other games. You can prevent the pit boss from giving you too much heat by playing other casino games with a high house edge. Sure, this is another betting to think about but it shouldn’t hurt your bankroll that much.
🃏Don’t play for too long. I know that the Omega II system can make good money but fight the urge to stay too long on the table. When the pit boss noticed that you’re playing for extended hours, he will start to investigate.
🃏Don’t sport that serious face. Yes, the Omega II method is one heck of a process but try to keep it light on the outside. Try to smile so you wouldn’t attract the curiosity of the dealer or the pit boss.
Here’s how dealers spot a card counter and what may happen if you got caught:
If you’re a professional player, it’s a must to learn the Omega II card counting. It’s a tried and tested system from one of the most legendary blackjack players of all time.