How to Count Cards Using the Reko Blackjack System

Wattenburger’s Simple System for Novice Counters

The REKO system is a simplified adaption of the K.O. or knockout card counting system, the RE standing for ‘Ridiculously Easy’. This system was popularized by Norm Wattenburger, the author of “Modern Blackjack” and is a system which can be used effectively by even the novice card counter.

Just like every other card counting systems, values are assigned to each card and the player will keep a running count throughout the game. The count using this system will start as a negative number, but the moment it crosses into positive territory, the conditions will be good to increase the bet size, as the remaining cards in the shoe will favor the player.

In card counting you have both balanced systems and unbalanced ones. When using a balanced system, you’ll start the count at zero and when the last card has been dealt you’ll end up with zero, as the same number of cards have positive and negative values. These balanced systems can be more accurate, but will usually need an extra step of converting the running count to a ‘true count’. An unbalanced system does lose a little accuracy, but they won’t require an additional ‘true count’ as the running count works on its own, making it easier to manage. The REKO counting system is an unbalanced one, as there are more cards with a positive value than there are with a negative one.

Before taking this system to the live casino setting, it can be an idea to have a practice run at home. Take a deck of cards and go through the whole pack, keeping a running count. At the end of the 52 cards, if the count is 4 higher than the initial count, you’re doing it right.

Rules of the REKO Card Counting System

The first step in using the REKO system is to set the initial running count. The number will depend on the number of decks in the shoe – you’ll simply multiply the number of decks by -2. For example, if you are playing a 6-deck game, the starting running count will be -12. Then you’ll simply add or subtract values based on the following:

Any two, three, four, five, six or seven will add 1 to the running count.

Any 8 or 9 are deemed neutral so the running count will not change.

Any ten, jack, queen, king and ace will subtract 1 from the running count.

For example, if you had three (+1), a seven (+1) and a jack (-1), the overall running count would increase by 1.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to bet sizing, but you should be increasing the amount as the count goes above zero. The higher the number is above zero, the more you should be betting each time. Of course, whenever you are card counting you won’t want the house to realize, so some common sense in your betting should apply as you don’t want to appear like you are playing to a set strategy.

In any card counting system, it is always a good idea to keep a side count of the Aces. If for example, there is one deck left in the shoe and you consider that there are eight aces in there, the chances of hitting blackjack are much greater. In this situation, you should certainly consider increasing the bet size.

Is the REKO System Recommended?

Like many other systems, there are pros and cons to using the REKO system.

One of the best aspects of this system is the simplicity of the count. With values of just +1 and -1, these will offset each other on many occasions making the counting easier to manage, which is always a good thing, especially in the casino setting, where the action is fast and you have many distractions. With just the one count to worry about too, this cuts down on the brain work.

The system is said to work better the more decks you have, so if you do find yourself at a (rare) single deck game, you edge over the house might not be as good. Some claim that this system is actually a little too simplistic to give any real edge over the house, although the REKO system is a modified version of the system famously used by the team of card counters made famous in the movie “21”.

The REKO Card Counting System – Overview

This system is ideal for those starting out in card counting. The simplicity of the system makes it easy to pick up and apply at the tables. No, it won’t give you the same edge as other systems, but it can work perfectly as a stepping stone to more complicated systems.