If you want to count cards when playing high limit blackjack but are not successful with traditional techniques, we recommend you take a look at the Zen count blackjack system.

As we mentioned in our how to make money playing blackjack guide, card counting is a legal technique and can be used in all variants of the game (including mobile blackjack).

It is possible to use different systems for counting cards, and Zen count is one of them: Little known but highly effective. In this Zen count system explained guide, we explain in detail everything you need to know about the technique.

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The history of Zen card counting system in blackjack

Counting cards is the most common online blackjack strategy, and a technique called “hi-lo” is often used for this job. Until the 80s, almost all gamblers counted cards with this technique, and it is still extremely popular today.

However, a book, Blackbelt in Blackjack – written by Arnold Snyder in 1983 showed that this can be done with a different technique: Zen count.

  • Arnold Snyder is a founding member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame and is the administrator of many sites and forums dedicated to this game.
  • He has also written other books on blackjack money management and blackjack tournament strategy.
  • In other words, he is a respected authority on blackjack, and he created the Zen count blackjack system.

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What is Zen card counting?

Below we explain the main features and rules of the Zen card counting system:

➤ Zen count is a balanced system and allows you to end the count with a result of 0, which is similar to Spanis 21 card counting.

➤ This technique divides the cards in the deck into different groups and assigns a point value to each. In this respect, it is the same as hi-lo, but in the Zen count calculation, Aces are directly included in the count so there is no need to prepare a separate list.

➤ Its purpose is to start playing with the minimum bet as soon as the true count reaches 0 (or less).

➤ When a positive value is obtained, the bet amount is increased by 1 more unit (minimum bet amount).

➤ At first glance, it looks like a complex system: Its difficulty level is “II”. Therefore, developing Zen count accuracy in blackjack may take longer than expected. But once you understand how the system works, very impressive results can be achieved in the long run.

➤ As a matter of fact, the Zen count blackjack correlation is 0.96, which means it really works.

How does the Zen count work in blackjack?

Regardless of the variant, whether you play European blackjack or Bitcoin blackjack, each card has a point value and these values do not change. You can see them in the Zen count blackjack strategy chart below:

CARD

POINT

8, 9
POINT
0
A
POINT
-1
10, J, Q, K
POINT
-2
2, 3, 7
POINT
+1
4, 5, 6
POINT
+2

As can be seen from this table, the average Zen count range blackjack is not overly broad. To put it simply, when playing with Zen count indices blackjack, you must calculate the point values of all the cards on the table in your head and constantly update the result: This is called “running count”.

What you need to do is play with the minimum bet if the running count is a negative number or 0. Each time the count rises, you must increase your bet by 1 unit.

Let’s give an example and imagine that the following cards are played in order in the game:

CARD

POINT

COUNT

5
POINT
+2
COUNT
2
10
POINT
-2
COUNT
0
Q
POINT
-2
COUNT
-2
7
POINT
+1
COUNT
-1
4
POINT
+2
COUNT
1
2
POINT
+1
COUNT
2
6
POINT
+2
COUNT
4
8
POINT
0
COUNT
4

In this example, you have to start playing with the minimum bet from card 10 and continue by increasing the stake by 1 unit after card 4. Keeping running count in mind constantly is the most important part of the Zen count technique.

Choosing the right bet size with Zen blackjack card counting

It is not the bet amount we are talking about here: you have to decide that personally and based on your bankroll. When we say bet size, we mean how you should behave according to the rolling count result.

The result obtained with the Zen count technique can be negative, positive, or zero. So, how can these results guide you?

Tip

  • If the rolling count is a positive number, you have an increased chance of blackjack. Therefore, you can increase your bet.
  • If the rolling count is a negative number or zero, you are less likely to win the game and it would be better to lower your bet.
  • Keep playing with the minimum bet as long as the result is zero or a negative number.
  • When the result is a positive number, keep increasing the bet amount by 1 unit.

For example, placing 3x minimum bet will be a good choice for the +3 result: We believe this is the best betting schedule for Zen count blackjack.

In this context, we should also briefly mention the concept of “true count”. If more than one deck is used in the game, the rolling count calculation can mislead you because the deck will contain extra Aces and face cards. In such a case, you need to convert running count to true count and use the result of this calculation for the Zen count technique.

The true count can be calculated by dividing the running count by the number of remaining decks. For example, if there are 5 decks left, divide the running count by 5: The result will be the true count.

Zen Count

• Zen count blackjack is slightly more accurate

• It is also harder to use

• However, for games played with a single or double deck, you should prefer Zen count blackjack

Hi Lo Count

• The Hi-Lo count is more convenient

• The point values are simpler to track, and you can calculate the running/ true count much easier

• If the game is played with more than 2 decks, using the Hi-Lo technique will be more practical

How to use the Zen card counting effectively?

Tip

👉 Examine and practice other card counting techniques (i.e. baccarat card counting) and try to increase your capacity with mental exercises.

👉 Prefer one-deck blackjack games at first and try two-deck games after gaining some experience. Ideally, Zen count blackjack should be used in games of no more than two decks.

👉 Do not use aggressive betting techniques such as double your bet until you win with the Zen count technique. Increase or decrease the stakes within the limits described above.

👉 Check out our other blackjack guides (i.e. do you take insurance in blackjack, when to surrender in blackjack, etc.) to find out what the best decisions will be for each card combination.

👉 Be sure to take advantage of the online casino bonuses when playing blackjack. You can start by browsing our list of 100 best online casinos.

What to expect from Zen count blackjack

PROS
  • Perfectly accurate with 0.96 correlation
  • Probably the best method for one-deck and double-deck games
  • Aces are already included in the count
CONS
  • Harder than hi-lo technique
  • Not suitable for games with more than 2 decks

FAQ: Your questions on the Zen card counting answered

Zen count is a blackjack card counting technique that is slightly more accurate than others. It is a level II technique, which means it is also slightly harder to learn and use.
Zen count blackjack correlation is 0.96, which means it is quite effective and really works in the long run. However, the effectiveness also depends on the personal abilities of the player too.
Aces are worth -1 point in Zen count blackjack. Other negative numbers are 10, J, Q, and K. 8 and 9 are worth 0 points and all other cards are positive numbers.
This depends on your personal skills, but it is perfectly possible to master Zen count in a maximum of two weeks with the right mental exercises.
No. Neither regular card counting or Zen card counting is illegal in blackjack. Casinos cannot confiscate your winnings by claiming that you are “counting cards”. However, land-based casinos may refuse service to players using this technique, so we recommend using it only at safe online casino sites.

Win big with Zen count system

Zen count blackjack is probably the best system to use in games with the minimal number of decks: If the game is played with a single or double deck, you should definitely prefer Zen card counting. You have learned how to Zen count by reading this guide and it is now time to make some practice: Choose one of our recommended casinos and start playing blackjack with a bonus or learn about other games and strategies like 20 Card Keno. We are sure that you will start winning big in no time. Good luck out there!