How to Count Cards Using the Mentor System

Fred Renzey’s Level II System for Expert Card Counters

The Mentor Card Counting System first appeared in the book ‘Blackjack Bluebook II’ by Fred Renzey in 2003, making it one of the more recent systems in circulation today. The system is considered to be a level II one, meaning in terms of difficulty it’s not for the beginner. It is not so complex that an experienced counter would have any difficulty.

So, how does it work? Just like every other card counting system you’ll keep a count. If the count is positive, the conditions are ripe to increase your bet size as the remaining cards contain more cards which are advantageous to the player.  If the count is negative, the player should consider lowering the bet sizing or even standing up and leaving the table.

How the Mentor Counting System Works

When a new deck or decks come into play, you should start the count at zero. This original count is known as the ‘running count’ and will form the basis of the system, you’ll need to add a further calculation down the line. You’ll now start adding and subtracting from the running count based on the following values:

Any three, four, five or six add 2 to the running count.

Any two or seven will add 1 to the running count.

An eight is considered neutral so the running count remains the same.

Any nine or ace will subtract 1 from the running count.

Any ten, jack, queen or king will subtract 2 from the count.

As an example, if the running count is +1 and the next card is a seven, the running count will move to +2.

Now you have the running count you have to do a further calculation to evaluate the ‘true count’. To do this you have to divide the running count by the number of decks left in the shoe. So, if you had a running count of +9 and you have three decks remaining (it can be tough to know exactly how many decks, so an approximation works), the ‘true count’ will be +3 (which is +9 divided by 3).

It’s the ‘true count’ that you’ll use to evaluate your betting decisions. If the ‘true count’ is a positive number, then the remaining cards are good for the player, a negative number means that the house edge has increased. Although this system doesn’t tell you exactly which bet sizing to use, the higher the ‘true count’ the more you’ll want to bet. The more you use this system, the more of a feel you’ll gain for the bet sizing that works for you.

The Mentor System – Example

You currently have a ‘running count’ of +6 and a ‘true count’ of +3 as there are approximately two decks left in the shoe. With this ‘true count’ of +3 you are already playing with an increased bet size. The cards on the table in the current hand are a pair of 4’s, a 6, an 8, a queen and a king. The pair of 4’s and the 6 will all add +2 to the ‘running count’, making it now +12, while the queen and the king will each subtract 2, making it +8. You can ignore the 8 as it’s the one neutral card in the pack.

You now convert the ‘running count’ into the ‘true count’. There are still approximately two decks left in the shoe, so the ‘true count’ is now +4. Before this hand, you’d already increased the bet size as the ‘true count’ was +3, but now you should be happy to increase it further.

Obviously, you don’t want to appear like you are card counting, so you should aim to mix your betting up a little, just to ensure that the house doesn’t pick up on something systematic.

Practicing the Mentor Card Counting System

One of the best aspects of this system is that it is a balanced one, meaning that by the time all the cards have come out, you should have a final total of zero. This can make it easier to get a feel for, as you can practice at home with a deck of cards, ensuring that by the time you get to the end of the pack, the count is zero. Obviously, you won’t have the many distractions of the casino when practicing, but it’s a much better idea than trying it for the first time in the casino setting itself.

The Mentor Card Counting System – Summary

This system has proved to be a successful one. You wouldn’t say it’s the easiest system, as you have a wider range of values than many others, while you have the added complication of the ‘true count’ to consider. As such it’s not really one for the beginner, but a proficient card counter will soon get to grips with it and make it a profitable one.