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If you know much about card counting, you are probably used to learning about balanced card counting systems such as the Hi-Lo, Hi-Opt I, and Hi-Opt II systems. Balanced card counting systems are the ones in which if you counted down an entire deck of cards, you would end up with a count of 0. In contrast, an unbalanced counting system is one where you will not end up with a count 0 by counting through an entire deck of cards. The most well known unbalanced card counting system is called the KO card count.

KO Card Counting Strategy Explained

The KO card counting system, also known as the Knock-Out card count, is a system where if you counted down an entire deck of cards, you will NOT end up with a count of 0. The methodology of the KO card counting system is explained in the book Knock-Out Blackjack, written by Olaf Vancura and Ken Fuchs.

The KO strategy adds one extra small card to the Hi-Lo count, the 7, as a +1 value . So by using this system you will end up with a count of positive 4 if you counted down a deck of cards, because there are 4 sevens in every deck. The imbalance of this counting system is created to deliberately avoid the need to make true count conversions. The following chart shows each cards value, in the KO count:

2, 3, 4 , 5, 6, 7
Count +1
8, 9
Count 0
10, J, Q, K, A
Count -1

KO Knockout Blackjack by Olaf Vancura and Ken FuchsIn Knock-Out Blackjack, the authors claim that it is too mentally taxing for the majority of blackjack players to constantly be converting back and forth between the true count and the running count, which makes sense. It can often be difficult to keep converting back and forth if you're playing in a crowded casino that is generally full of distractions. The KO card counting system was designed to make card counting slightly easier on the player.

Should I Use the KO Count?

The true decision of whether you should use the KO counting system is how much money are you willing to give up for something that is easier to use and to play with. When it comes down to choosing a counting system, you need to decide which system will work best for your particular game and skill level. By using the KO count, you will be sacrificing a bit of accuracy for a bit of ease of use.

If you have tried using the Hi-Lo counting system and are having problems mastering it due to the true count and running count conversions, you might consider giving the KO counting system a whirl. The accuracy difference between the Hi-Lo system and the KO system is fairly slight, especially if you're just a recreational or part-time blackjack player.

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