The KO Blackjack Card Counting System

The KO System is a Blackjack card counting method that combines the positive aspects of several popular counting systems without also picking up the unpopular aspects. The Knockout Count System is one of the newest card counting strategies. Most systems were developed in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, but the KO Count was developed in 1998 although the 1992 book titled The Book Of British Blackjack is said to contain a system called the All Sevens Count, which should not be confused with the Red 7’s Count developed by Arnold Snyder. In any event the KO System has been thoroughly tested over the years and it is one of the best counting systems for beginner and intermediate card counters. The simplicity of the KO System is what makes it so popular. Side counts and true counts are not necessary when you use the KO Method. This system was featured in the popular Blackjack strategy book: Knock-Out Blackjack.

How To Use The KO System Blackjack Count

Some Blackjack card counting methods require users to maintain three different counts as well as a sometimes complicated conversion in order to find out if the remaining cards hold an advantage for the player. Some force the user to quickly add and subtract by 4’s, 9’s and even fractions. The KO System only requires one count; the running count. The running count in the KO method utilizes -1’s and +1’s, as shown in the chart below.

KO Blackjack System

Keeping a running count using the KO System is the only thing you have to do. The running count will tell you if the unused cards left in the deck or shoe are favorable to the player. The basic principle behind Blackjack card counting strategies is that low cards are bad for players and high cards are good for players. When your KO Count is greater than 0 it means that there are more 10’s and Aces in the deck than the 5 to 13 ratio found in a fresh deck. This is not a theory. It has been mathematically proven countless times over the past 50 years. The advantage stems from the fact that the dealer has set rules for hitting and standing while you do not. The primary purpose of the KO System is to find out when you should increase or decrease your bet. The count can go both ways so if it is far enough in the negatives you should probably just get out of the game all together and come back later. The KO System is extremely easy, but let’s do a quick test to ensure that we are on the same page. In the example below we will assume that the running count was -2 at the end of the previous hand. Figure out what the running count will be after the following hand.

  • Player 1: 3d-6d-2c-5h
  • Player 2: Qs-Kd
  • Player 3: 5s-7d-Ah
  • You: 6s-8h
  • Dealer: 10s-5d-8c

The cards above equal +4 using the KO System and you started at -2 so your new running count is +2. There is one aspect of card counting methods like the Knockout System that are open to debate. These systems tell you when it is advantageous to increase your bet, but they do not touch on how much that increase should be. As far as I know there are no concrete formulas that everyone agrees with so I typically recommend that players develop their own systems for determining bet size changes. Some argue that the number of decks used should determine how much you of an increase you should make. Most agree that when the running count is +1 you should double the size of your initial bet. If you are at +2 betting 2 or 3 times your initial bet is practical. I always suggest using caution when increasing your wager. The KO System is very simple and straightforward, but mistakes can be made especially when you first start using it at a casino. Keeping the size of your bankroll in mind when making larger bets is always a good idea.