Multi-Parameter Counting Systems

Home Blackjack Card Counting Systems Multi-Parameter Counting Systems

This isn’t really a counting “system”, but more a way of enhancing some of the counting systems that we’ve covered in previous installments of this series. What “multi-parameter” means is that a separate count is kept of some cards, particularly those which are assigned a ‘point value’ of zero. The best example is the Ace. As you saw in the chapter on single-level counts, some systems assign the Ace a point value of -1 and other systems don’t count it (point value of 0). That’s because the Ace is a weird card in the game of Blackjack; for playing purposes, it’s a ‘small’ card (hit a 12 with an Ace and now you have a 13…whoopee!), but for betting purposes, the Ace is considered a ‘high’ card because it’s the key element in a ‘natural’ which pays 3 to 2. So, if you want a method of counting which is very accurate in terms of betting efficiency, treat the Ace as -1 (or more; it depends on the system), but if you want a method which is highly accurate for playing purposes, treat the Ace as ‘neutral’ (point value of zero). But, you can’t have both…or can you?

What if you treated the Aces as a “0”, but kept track of them separately? Then, you’d have a system that would be pretty accurate for playing purposes and you could make temporary adjustments to the count when you’re figuring the bet to place on the next hand. Here’s a simple example. Let’s say we’re at a single-deck game, and with 26 cards played to this point, the running count is zero. Most systems would dictate a minimum bet, but what if all 4 Aces remained in the undealt cards? Think there’s a decent chance that one or two may come out in the next hand? (Yes, I know the dealer will probably get them all, but that won’t happen every time). In this situation, there are 26 cards left to be played and, since Aces are distributed at a 1 in 13 ratio, we should have seen 2, but didn’t. So, there are 2 ‘extra’ Aces in there and we could add 2 to the running count for betting purposes only, then go back to the ‘original’ running count for playing purposes. Figured on a True Count basis, it’s +4 for betting and 0 for playing; quite a difference.

So, you can see that the ‘side’ count of Aces identified an opportunity that might otherwise have been missed. That’s the power of multi-parameter counting; it’s useful in certain situations. By the way, even though a counting system may assign some value to the Ace doesn’t mean that you can’t also track it from a multi-parameter point of view. For a cool way to track the Aces, see my article “…and I’ll have a side of Aces” in the Gamemaster’s Secrets section of this site.

Are there other cards worth tracking in a multiple-parameter mode? Yes, there are; in fact almost any card can be tracked to some advantage, but it’s not easy and there’s very little information out there on how to use these side counts. For example, knowing that there are ‘extra’ 8s in a deck is very useful if one has a hand of 13 to play against a dealer’s 10, but what would you do differently? If the deck was ‘short’ on 8s, would you stand? Well, that might be the correct play, but I can’t tell you at which point it becomes the correct play. The card-counter is busy enough at the table so adding a side count other than Aces will likely create mistakes that cause the losses to outweigh the potential gains. Maybe, if you’re already using a count like the Hi/Lo where the Ace is a -1, it might be worthwhile to add a ‘side’ of 7s or 9s. Boy, would that be helpful when hitting 12s! And, in a single-deck game, it wouldn’t be all that tough, but in games like that, I recommend using the Hi-Opt 1 count where the Ace is a 0 and you keep a side-count of them. So, we’re back to where we started. But, it probably is possible to keep track of 2 cards and if I was going to do it (I’ve never felt the need), I’d track Aces and 7s. According to Dr. Peter Griffin, in his book “The Theory of Blackjack”, the betting efficiency of the High-Opt 1 count can be raised from 88% to 97% by adding Aces and 7s and the playing efficiency can be raised from 61.5% to 73.6% by doing so.

Going much beyond that virtually requires a computer. Hey…you’re at a computer now! In the previous chapter of this series, I addressed ‘computer-level’ counts which offered extreme accuracy at the game though it’s basically illegal to use a computer in a casino. But, what if you were playing at an Internet casino? Then, you could take advantage of a multi-parameter count and your accuracy might be as high as 90% for playing efficiency and nearly 100% for betting.

I’ll be wrapping this series up with a chapter on unbalanced counts which are probably the easiest to use, yet they can still get you the $$$.

See you then.