An Extension to Uston’s Original System

The Uston Advanced Point Count (APC) first appeared in the book ‘Million Dollar Blackjack’, written by Ken Uston and published in 1981. In that book, Uston described the ‘Advanced Plus-Minus Count’ (APM), a simpler card counting system. The one covered here, the similarly named Advanced Point Count (APC) is an extension to the original method that could be used by a professional card counter to push the edge further to the advantage of the player.

You’ll find several differences between the Uston APC and the APM. First, the values assigned to the cards include values ranging from -3 to +3, whereas the original system only had -1 and +1 values. The APC also has the player converting the ‘running count’ into a ‘true count’ to ensure greater accuracy. However, perhaps the most important difference is the fact that the Uston APC is designed for games with any number of decks, while the APM could only be used at single or double deck games. This means that the original system is now almost obsolete, while the APC is still very relevant.

In card counting you’ll find both balanced and unbalanced systems. Balanced systems are those where the final count after all the cards have been dealt ends at zero, while unbalanced systems finish with a different number to the one you started with. The Uston APC is a balanced system, so after all the fluctuations throughout the deck(s) you will indeed return to a count of zero.

How to Use the Uston Advanced Point Count

You’ll start the count at zero the moment a new deck(s) hits the shoe. Now you’ll update this ‘running count’ every time a new card appears, adding or subtracting to and from the total based upon the following values:

A 5 will increase the count by 3.

A 3, 4, 6 or 7 will increase the count by 2.

A 2 or an 8 will increase the count by 1.

A 9 will decrease the count by 1.

A 10, J, Q or K will decrease the count by 3.

An ace is considered neutral, so the count won’t change with this card.

Now you have the running count you’ll have to convert this into a ‘true count’. To do this you’ll have to divide the running count by the number of decks left in the shoe. It will obviously be difficult to have a completely accurate fractional value for this, but making an estimate will still work – so if there were roughly 120 cards in the shoe, you could round this down to 2 decks.

Now you have the ‘true count’ you’ll use this to make your betting decisions. If the true count is a positive number, then you should be increasing your bet size and the more positive this number is, the more you should be staking. A positive true count implies that the remaining cards in the shoe are good for the player, meaning that the house edge has now gone and the player has the edge. Of course, the count could be a negative one and if this is the case house edge is now larger. If this happens the bet sizing should be reduced, while a large negative might mean leaving the table is the best option.

Players should also keep a side count of the aces to further the edge. If there are a higher proportion of aces left in the shoe than there should be, this can be another reason to increase the bet size as blackjack is easier to come by.

The Uston Advanced Point Count – Example

You’re sat at a blackjack table playing a game with six decks and there are approximately 4 decks left in the shoe. The current running count is +11 and the cards dealt in the current hand are 3, 5, 7, 10 and a King. The 3 and the 7 will both increase the count by 2, while the 5 increases it by 3, making a new running count of +18. However, both the 10 and the king will reduce the count by 3 to make it +12.

You now convert the running count (+12) into the ‘true count’ by dividing this number by 4 (number of decks) to have a ‘true count’ of +3. With this count, the bet sizing should be increased.

The Uston Advanced Point Count – Summary

The Upton APC system is certainly effective, giving the player a nice edge over the house if used properly. However, the wide range of values used in the count makes it a more complicated system than most and many consider that it’s too complicated, as some easier systems offer a similar level of advantage.