Blackjack Knockout "KO" Card Counting System

KO, or also known as knockout, is a common system used by blackjack card counters. There are a number of other systems out there such as Hi-Lo, Hi-Opt 1 and Hi-Opt 2. The basic concept of card counting is to start at a reference point such as 0. When certain cards are shown on the table, you add or subtract to this number until the count is at a desired level that would give you a greater edge.

There are two different categories of card counting. One is a balanced system, where you start off at 0 and count the cards and should end up with a total of 0 when the last card is dealt. If the count isn't 0, then you did it wrong! The other category is unbalanced card counting, where the end total is not necessarily 0. Knockout (KO) is an unbalanced card counting system.

KO Card Counting Strategy

KO or Knock Out strategy begins with the fact that when the whole deck is used up, the count should not end up being zero. Normally there are an equal amount of points that apply to certain valued cards, but in this case, we would give the seven cards a positive 1 count. When a seven is seen on the table, you are adding one point to your starting reference count of 0 to give 1 point now.

The Hi-Lo counting system is one where there are equal points that add up to 0 when the last card is dealt. KO Knockout gives the 7 card that extra point, so at the end of a deck of cards, your final count should be 4. This is because of the four 7 cards in the deck. Multiply the number of decks by 4 to get your final count when playing with multiple decks of blackjack cards. The reason for this small variation is the convenience in not having to make conversions to the true count value. Below is a table of what count number you should add when you see one of these cards being dealt.

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

Benefits of KO Card Counting

The system is not that difficult to learn. For example, in the KO count table above, if a 7 card is seen, add 1 point to your total. If an 8 card is dealt, don't add anything to the count and if an ace or ten point card is seen, then subtract a point. Keep in mind, you need to do this in your head and you have to pay attention to all the cards on the table, even the dealer and other player cards.

The Knockout card counting system is designed to be easier on the player when trying to keep track of the true count and the running count. The running count is actually the important number here and it depends on how many decks are being used. The true count is the number that you are adding up in your head. To find the running count, just divide the true count by the number of decks being played. For example, if you have a count of +8 while playing with a shoe having 8 decks of cards, your running count would be converted to only +1.

The benefit of this system is you don't have to keep doing the running conversion. It is easy for novice blackjack players who are just learning how to count cards and there really isn't much different between the Hi-Lo card system and the KO counting system either.