Ken Uston’s ‘Strongest and Simplest’ System

Ken Uston had already made a name for himself in card counting circles after the publication of ‘Million Dollar Blackjack’ in which the author detailed two separate successful card counting systems (the Uston Advanced Plus-Minus and the Uston Advanced Point Count). A few years later Uston teamed up with renowned card counters Arnold Snyder and Sam Case to develop the Uston SS, which stands for ‘strongest and simplest’. While undoubtedly strong, it’s not perhaps the simplest of systems, although an experienced card counter will find it straightforward.

The Uston SS is an unbalanced system, meaning that the count at the end of a shoe will be different from that at the start (a balanced system will both start at end with zero). This card counting system will start at a negative number and the remaining cards will only be deemed beneficial to the player if the count rises to a positive number. When (or if) this positive number is reached, it will be time to increase the bet sizing.

This blackjack card counting system is considered a level III system, as the values assigned to each card range between -3 and +3. This will make the card counting more complicated than many other systems, especially those with a simpler +1 and -1 range. However, one advantage you’ll have in using the Uston SS is that you’ll not have to convert the ‘running count’ into a ‘true count’, which is the case with most balanced systems. Here, all you’ll need is the running count.

The Uston SS Blackjack Card Counting System – How it Works

The first thing you need to do when using this count is to find your initial running count. This is found by multiplying the number of decks by -2. For example, if you are playing with 6 decks, the initial running count will be -12. You’ll now add or subtract the following values to and from the running count:

A five adds 3 to the running count.

A two, three, four or six add 2 to the running count.

A seven adds 1 to the running count.

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

A nine subtracts 1 from the running count.

A ten, jack, queen, king or ace each subtracts 2 from the running count.

All the time the count remains negative you should keep your bet sizing to a minimum, but when the count becomes a positive one, it’s time to increase that bet sizing.

It can also be useful to keep a track of the aces as a side count. If there are more aces than there should be in the shoe (if there were 10 aces to come out with just a couple of decks remaining for example) your chance of hitting blackjack is increased, so this would be another reason to increase the size of your bets.

The Uston SS Blackjack Card Counting System – Example

You’ve been sat at a table for a while playing blackjack with 6 decks. Your initial count was therefore -12, but now the count sits at -2. The next hand sees the following cards make an appearance:

A three, a five, a seven, a nine and a queen.

The three adds 2 to the count, the five adds 3 and the seven adds 1, to make the new count +4. However, the nine subtracts 1 and the queen subtracts 2, meaning the overall count is now +1. The running count has now turned from negative to positive, meaning that the bet size can now start to be increased. As the running count has only just made it into positive territory (+1 is obviously the minimum amount), you shouldn’t increase the bet sizing too much, only doing this when the number is a high positive.

As with any card counting system, you should ensure that you don’t appear to be using some kind of system, as the house will soon pick up on it. Varying your bet sizing is always a good idea, while anything that appears systematic is likely to see your time at the blackjack tables curtailed.

The Uston SS Blackjack Card Counting System – Good or Bad?

There is little doubt that the Uston SS card counting system works. If you use the system correctly the house edge will be turned around and it’s you that will be sitting pretty with the edge. However, this does come at a price. With the range of values to learn, this isn’t a system that can be picked up easily, and even when you do learn all the values, the actual act of card counting in the casino with all the added distractions can be a tough job. Overall, this makes the Uston SS only suitable for the most experienced card counters, although get it right and the rewards are there!