Zen Card Counting System in Blackjack

Published Date · Aug. 20, 2021 · Last Updated · June 9, 2023 ·Read Time · 3 mins

Most professional Blackjack players use a card counting system as they allow them to determine whether they are in a favourable position or not and also to help them to make a wiser decision. Another reason for these strategies growing in popularity is that they give players valuable information about the cards in the deck, which will help players to adjust their bets better. 

In this article, we will look at the history of the zen count system in blackjack, how to use it, how it works, and compare it to the true count.

A Brief History of the Zen Count

The Zen Card Counting system first appeared in a book by Arnold Snyder in 1983; the book was called “Blackbelt in Blackjack”. Snyder was one of the original inductees into the Blackjack Hall of Fame, as written a lot of books on the subject of Blackjack and various other casino games as well as contributing and editing the ‘Blackjack Forum’, which is an advantage player online trade journal that was first started in 1981. 

Snyder is recognised as an expert card counter and has published the details of all the different systems he has created, suitable to every level of Blackjack game player. The Zen Count is for players who have played before with easier systems, and it is not for novice players. Although the count has been designed to be a basic strategy, you do have to put in some practice to see its benefit.


How to Use the Zen Count

The Zen Count is a very balanced system where once you have counted your way through the card deck, you should end up at a 0 count. Like any card counting system, you will be using a very simple strategy to determine your decisions whilst playing. 

This card counting system is similar to simple systems such as the Hi-Lo Count. It is similar because you start with zero running at the table, or the shoe is shuffled. The count values of the cards are then added or subtracted from your running count. 

The card values are as follows: 

2,3,7 = +1

4,5,6 = +2

8,9 = 0

10, Jack, Queen, King = +2

Ace = +1

As you can see, the aces are included in the count; there isn’t a need to keep a separate count for them as you might have to in other more advanced strategies. However, you will need to convert the running count into a true to determine how much you have to bet. This is done by dividing your count by the number of decks left in the shoe or rough estimation. 

When the true count is 0 or less, you will be placing your lowest bet; the theory is to increase your bets by one each time the count goes up. This steady betting increase is intended not to catch the attention of casino employees, which isn’t important when playing online.


How does the Zen Count System Work

While the Zen Count System keeps track of all the 10s and Aces in the deck, which gives you an advantage as a player, its graded values will also give you an additional edge. The 10 cards and aces are given negative values as having them in the deck will benefit the player the most, and the low cards are score with the highest value cards, 4,5 and 6 damage the player’s edge the greatest. The count is at its highest point once most of the damaging cards are no longer in the deck of cards. So as you increase your bet with the true count, you’re risking more money when the odds are more in your favour. When the count goes down, you will be risking less.


The Drawback to the Zen Count

The main issue with this counting technique is that it is very difficult to track when you include the different card values and convert them to a true count. This is why it’s not a basic blackjack strategy, although, over some time, you should be able to pick up the division skill level needed to do this system in this casino game. 

You may also want to watch your betting when the original count gets high. While you’re betting 5 or 6x your original bet will correctly push your edge, these larger bets may get the attention of the physical casino staff; this is why you should this accurate card counting system at online casinos. The application of the zen count is used by skilled players and experienced players as it gives them a little bit of an advantage.


Matthew Wojciow

Content Writer