Canfield Master Card Counting System

A Level 2 Blackjack Card Counting System from Richard Canfield

The Canfield Master system appeared in the book “Blackjack Your Way to Riches” written by Richard Albert Canfield, which was published in 1977. This system follows the ‘Canfield Expert System’, a system which was deemed to be ideal for people who were just starting out card counting. The Master system is a little trickier than the ‘Expert’ version, as there are a wider range of values to remember. The original system only had +1 and -1 values, while the Master system adds in +2 and -2.

Much like the others, the basic premise for the system is that the higher the count is, the more favorable the remaining cards in the shoe are. This is achieved by the non-favorable low cards having a positive value, meaning that when the count is high those higher cards (which are more beneficial to the player as it means the dealer is more likely to bust) are more likely to appear.

The Canfield Master system is balanced, meaning that by the time you reach the end of the deck(s) the overall count should be zero. If you’ve never tried this system before, it might be an idea to practice with a deck of cards and ensure that you do have a count of zero yourself by the time you’ve dealt the last card. This system works best with just a single deck, although the developers do state that it works well for both single deck and multi-deck games.

How to Calculate the Canfield Master Count

You’ll use the following values in calculating the Canfield Master Count:

Four, five and six add 2 to the count

Two, three and seven add 1 to the count

Aces and eights are neutral so the count remains unchanged

A nine subtracts 1 from the count

All ten value cards subtract 2 from the count

So, for example, if the current hand has a four, a two, an ace and a nine showing in your opponent’s hands and the dealer up card. Here you add 2 for the four, add 1 for the two, ignore the ace and subtract 1 for the nine, meaning that you’d have a total of +2 for the hand to add to the running count.

If the count is positive, you should be more likely to increase the bet size and the more positive it is the more you should be staking. As with all card counting, you will need to be wary of making it look too much like a system, else you might be exiting the casino early! Of course, if the count is a negative one, you should lower your bet size or even leave the table.

One other factor to consider is the Aces. Using this count, the Aces are neutral but it’s a good thing to keep an eye on them. If there are a higher proportion of Aces in the pack than there should be – maybe there are three left in the pack and half the cards have been dealt – then this is another reason to increase the bet size, as you’re more likely to hit blackjack.

How Does the Canfield Master System Compare to Others?

The Canfield Master System is classified as a level 2 advanced system, making it more complicated than your basic systems such as Hi/Lo count and the original Canfield system, but there are much trickier systems out there too. Some say that the fact that the game works best with a single deck (the more decks there are, the lower the edge you’ll have) can be a problem as those single deck games can be very tough to find in a casino, although the developers would refute the fact that it can only be played with one deck.

One big advantage for the system is that it is a balanced one. Balanced systems are deemed to have a greater accuracy over a non-balanced one (a non-balanced system being one were the final count after the last card has been dealt is not zero).

The Canfield Master System – Example

You have a running count of -1 and the cards dealt in the current hand are a series of low ones, meaning that the count changes dramatically from -1 to +5. Suddenly the deck has gone from a slightly unfavorable one to being hugely favorable, so at this point you would really want to heavily increase your stake. Bearing in mind the fact that you don’t want to make it too obvious, so increasing your stake over 2/3 hands might be way to go (with that count, it’s highly likely that the count will remain in your favor throughout those 2/3 hands).

If the count had gone the other way and moved from -1 to -6 for example, the cards in the shoe are now bad for you, so walking away might be the best option.