Blackjack players have been trying to master the greatest of card games for decades and along the way they have managed to find certain solutions that can arguably improve a player’s control over the game. Amongst numerous strategies, tips, trick and tactics is the Zen card counting system. Card counting is one of the most popular systems used in blackjack, a way to improve the odds and get an edge over the casino, usually familiar to more advanced players.
The Zen system was first described by Arnold Snyder in his book Blackbelt in Blackjack, published in 1983. Designed to give the player an advantage over the casino, the Zen card counting method requires the use of a perfect basic strategy.
Every card counting system results in better odds for the player by enabling him/her to bet more when the odds are in his/her favor and by allowing certain deviations from the basic strategy when adequate. It’s not necessary, however, to deviate from the basic strategy as it is still possible to gain an important advantage over the house. When you’re starting in card counting, the first thing you need to do is learn basic strategy. You need to keep it well memorized, and then work your way up to learning the card counting system.
Most people think card counting is all about memorizing which cards have been played, but that’s not entirely true. A card counter actually needs to apply a point system and keep up with the ratio. There is a running total, and all a card counter does is add or subtract from that running total. When high cards come out of the deck the counter applies subtraction and addition when lower cards are drawn.
The Zen card counting system is a balanced card counting method that leads to a count of zero if used properly and if the entire deck has been counted. It uses a multilevel count technique and you could say it carries intermediate difficulty, so some experience is required and novices would probably have certain troubles mastering it quickly.
Using the Zen system, a counter adds or subtracts an amount that is related to the rank of the card seen come out of the deck. The following values are assigned to the cards: 2s, 3s, and 7s = +1; 4s, 5s, and 6s = +2; 10s = -2; Aces = -1 and all the remaining cards are worth 0. You’ll notice that the Zen count assigns a count value to the Aces, whereas some other systems do not. This allows the player to dispose of the side-count of Aces, a technique common for most card counting systems.
The Zen system provides a better estimate of changes needed to be applied to the basic strategy, and gives the counter a better insight into whether to take the insurance. Once you get the gist of converting the running count into a true count you’ll also be able to size your bets using the Zen card counting system. This may be the only drawback or hard part about the Zen count as you need to do some divisions and calculations to factor in multiple decks of cards. The final goal is to get a high count and at that point start placing larger bets. If you are at a small count or a sizeable negative count number, then lower your bets and wait it out. Once the count gets high again, start rising the wagers for bigger wins.
The Zen system is described in great detail in Snyder’s book, so that would be a great place to go to for more details and skilled pieces of advice about how to get good at Zen card counting.