Modern Blackjack
REKO Card Counting Strategy







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The basic principle behind counting is the fact that high cards, particularly aces and tens, are better for the player and low cards, particularly 4s, 5s and 6s, are good for the dealer. Aces and tens can give the player Blackjacks, and tens are better for doubles. Low cards are good for the dealer, because unlike the player, the dealer must hit stiff hands (12-16) and low cards are safer. Tens break all stiff hands. Clearly if we remove all the aces, we cannot receive a Blackjack and our odds are worse. So, how valuable is each of the cards?


Effects of Removal (%)
























Above we see the Effects of Removal table from Peter Griffin’s The Theory of Blackjack. Griffin calculated the change in the odds when you remove a card from a single-deck game. We see from the table that removing an ace decreases the player edge by a further .61%. That is, if the rules give a house edge of -.50%, removing an ace will change that to -1.11%. Removing a single ace from the deck more than doubles the odds against us. On the other hand, removing a single five can add .69% to the disadvantage and turn it into an advantage for the player (from -.50% to +.19%). Herein lies the power of card counting. All that remains now is to take this principle and create a simple system such that we do not have to make these calculations while we are playing. We will do just that in the next section.

The REKO strategy

There exist numerous card-counting strategies ranging from very easy to ridiculously difficult. In general, more complex systems perform better. But over the years, it has been discovered that the very complex systems really are not that much better, and there are newer, simpler systems that are highly effective. In fact, the MIT teams used Hi-Lo, one of the simpler systems. And one of the most famous teams used K-O in its later days. K-O, described in the book Knock-Out Blackjack by Vancura and Fuchs, is a newer strategy that has about the same power as Hi-Lo. K-O is simpler because, unlike Hi-Lo, you do not need to keep track of the number of


 © 2009 Norman Wattenberger

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© 2009 Norman Wattenberger