A Beginners Strategy for Counting Cards with KISS

Ever since card counting systems became popular in Blackjack, experts have tried to formulate systems that gave the maximum edge. Many of these systems becoming increasingly complicated. Players will of course want to try and gain that maximum edge against the house, but some much more straightforward systems will still give an edge, just a slightly smaller one. The K.I.S.S. system is one of these, where players will have a much easier time ‘keeping score’ at the expense of the edge against the house only being two thirds of that when using the old Hi/Lo plus minus count.

At this point you might be wondering what K.I.S.S. stands for (hint, it’s not a US rock band famed for their interesting use of makeup!). K.I.S.S. stands for ‘Keep it short and Simple’.  It is named this way because exactly half of the cards in the pack don’t require a count at all, while those that do will only add or subtract 1 to the count.

How the K.I.S.S. Blackjack System gives players an Edge

The theory behind the K.I.S.S. system is straightforward. Players will keep a running count based on all the cards that come into play. As the running count rises, the more of an edge the player will have with the deck, meaning that a player should be more likely to increase their bet size. Conversely, the lower the count the more a player should decrease the bet size.

How the K.I.S.S. System Works

The first thing to note is that every time a player sees a 3, 7, 8, 9, 10 or an Ace appear, these can happily be ignored, as they will have no effect on the count. These cards account for 24 of the 52 cards. You can also add any black 2’s into the mix, meaning a total of 26 cards don’t need counting, which is exactly 50% of the pack.

The counting only happens with the following cards:

4, 5 or 6, as well as a red 2 will see you add 1 to the count.

J, Q or K will see you subtract 1 from the count.

The K.I.S.S. system is considered an unbalanced one as there are more cards with a positive value than a negative one, although this eliminates the added complication of also considering the number of decks left in the shoe that many other systems have.

To avoid dealing with negative counts, it is suggested that players start with a positive count and then add or subtract numbers as necessary from there. It is suggested that when playing with 6 decks, a player should start with a count of 9 and then increase the bet size when the count reaches 20, while if the count goes to a lower level such as 4, then the bet size should be decreased.

An example of the K.I.S.S. System

The count is 17 and the player sees two kings, a queen, two jacks, a 9, an 8 and a 4 in the current hand. The five picture cards will see the count increase to 22, while the 4 will see it decrease it 21. Both the 8 and the 9 can be ignored. With the count now at 21, the player will know that the cards in the shoe are beneficial, so should look to increase the bet size.

This system is ideal for the player who is just starting out when card counting. The edge is a little lower than enjoyed when using a more complicated system, but this makes for an ideal ‘beginning’ strategy and if used properly will still give the player an edge.

Further K.I.S.S. Systems

Having got to grips with the K.I.S.S. system, players can upgrade to K.I.S.S. II and K.I.S.S. III. These two systems act in the same way as the original one, except for the addition of one more card for both the positive and negative counts.

The K.I.S.S. II system sees a 3 adding 1 to the count, while a 10 will subtract one from the count (leaving just 18 cards in the deck to ignore).

The K.I.S.S. III system sees a 7 adding 1 to the count (in addition to the 3), while an Ace will subtract one from the count (in addition to the 10).

Using the K.I.S.S. II and K.I.S.S. III systems will see progressive increases in the edge over the house, the K.I.S.S. III system seeing an edge which is on a par with the standard Hi/Lo count system.

K.I.S.S. Blackjack Card Counting System Overview

If you’re starting out in card counting, the K.I.S.S. system might just be the ideal introduction. This straightforward system keeps the number crunching to a minimum, while still offering the opportunity to gain an edge against the house. Having got to grips with the initial system, progress onto K.I.S.S. II and K.I.S.S. III to increase that edge further.