Modern Blackjack
Reko Strategy

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Chapter Plus One

REKO Card Counting Strategy

We now enter the positive expectation chapters. (By the way, I thought I was quite clever with this chapter-numbering scheme, and then found out James Grosjean came up with the same idea in his recent book.) There is nothing Earth-shattering about the concept of card counting. Anyone who aspires to play Bridge, Stud Poker, Rummy, Gin, Pinochle, Hearts, Spades — even Go Fish knows that you must keep track of the played cards. In my younger days, my Poker mentor taught me about tracking aces and pairs (possible in home games where shuffles are notoriously poor). Decades ago a friend of mine on a business trip to Costa Rica read the rules of Blackjack on the plane. He had never heard of counting. But it was obvious from the rules that tens and aces were good for the player. He came up with an elementary ten count on the plane. He played for an hour or two and lost interest. I doubt he was playing at an advantage; however he only put a couple hours into it. The point is that the underlying concepts are not unfamiliar to card players. Counting is simply the correct way to play.

Card counting is both easier and harder than most people think. It is easier because you do not actually memorize the cards or make complex mathematical calculations. You just keep a simple count. This is far simpler than Bridge where you need to keep precise information about the remaining cards. Also, in most card games you must play against other players and learn how to read those opponents. Your opponent in Blackjack is the dealer, and she has no choices in her actions. On the other hand, counting is harder than most people think because it takes a great deal of practice, patience, and discipline, and because it must be performed in a highly distracting environment.