The KO Count is straightforward “unbalanced” card counting system, ideal if you are looking to progress from basic counting strategies. In balance counts, like the Ace-Five Count, once you have made your way through the whole deck your count should end up as 0. In an unbalanced strategy this will not be the case, which will make errors harder to trace if you lose track of your count.
This system was first developed in the 1990s and came to public attention in the book “Knock-Out Blackjack: The Easiest Card Counting System Ever Devised” written by Olaf Vancura and Ken Fuchs. When this book first came out expert card counters were very impressed by how favorably this simple system compares to more complicated counts. Here you can find out how the count is carried out, why it works and its limitations.
KO Count – How to Use the KO Count
If you are familiar with the Hi-Lo count system then the KO count should come very easily to you. When you join the game your running count for the deck or the shoe will be 0. As the game progresses and cards are seen, no matter whose hand they are in, the cards are assigned a value of either -1, 0 or +1 which is then added to your running count. The count number assigned to the card values is the same as the Hi-Lo count, with the exception that 7s are treated like a low card. The count numbers are therefore:
- 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 = +1
- 9, 8 = 0
- 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace = -1
Once your count is at +2 the remaining deck plays in your favor and as the count increases so does your advantage. This means for +2 onwards your should start increasing your bets at a steady pace and once the count returns to +1 or less then you should revert back to your minimum bet. Throughout every hand your play decisions should follow basic strategy.
The KO count will also give you a strong indication of when it is possible to profitably take insurance. While this is normally a bad bet, when your running count is at +3 or higher there are a sufficient number of 10s remaining to reverse the house advantage.
KO Count – Why the KO Count Works
As your count increases there a larger number of 10-value cards and aces remaining in the shoe which is a more favorable position for the player. As basic strategy assumes the next card drawn will be a 10, it becomes more accurate with a greater number of 10s, and with more aces remaining you have a better chance of making a blackjack, normally paying 3/2.
The KO system is an unbalanced counting method because there are more low cards adding to your count than there are subtracting from it. If you make your way through the whole deck your count should be +4 for a single deck and multiples thereof, decided by how many decks are in play, as the 7s are adding to the count.
The developers claim this unbalance nature of the KO count means you no not have to convert your running count into a true count. This conversion happens in other counting systems to account for the number of decks remaining in play, and mistakes made in this calculation is a common error among inexperienced card counters. The KO count removes the possibility of messing up your count in this way.
KO Count – The Disadvantages of the KO Count
Using the KO count successfully can give you a positive edge of 1-2%, which of course relies on you avoiding detection by the casino. The bigger you can get your bets when the count is high, the greater your advantage will be although this needs to be balanced out so it is not obvious what you are doing.
Like any card counting system on this will not work on tables with continuous shufflers or online, where the cards are randomized before each hand is dealt. You should also avoid games where the shoe is reshuffled frequently, as you really want good penetration into the deck in order to increase the accuracy of your count.
While the KO system does compare favorably to other counts it is not as accurate as others methods you can find, such as the Hi-Lo count. Despite this new card counters especially will still benefit using the KO count compared to other systems as they are less likely to make mistakes.