Renzey’s KISS System for Counting Cards in Blackjack

The KISS Card Counting System by Fred Renzey.

Advantage Blackjack: KISS Card Counting System by Fred RenzeyIf you’ve never used a card counting system in blackjack before, you probably have some trepidation about it. How can the average Joe count cards, when it took a group of MITs most intelligent math whizzes to pull it off in that movie, 21? This gives the impression that to gain an advantage, blackjack players must be savant-grade mathematicians.

The truth is, card counting comes in a wide range of difficulty levels. Some are complicated and require extensive memorization skills. Others are extremely easy, and can benefit anyone with the use of the simplest addition and subtraction. One of these easy ones is known as the KISS system for counting cards in blackjack.

KISS Card Counting System

The acronym KISS stands for “Keep It Short and Simple”. That’s exactly what gambling expert and author, Fred Renzy, was trying to do when he came up with the system. You can read all about it in his 2006 (updated 2017) book, Blackjack Bluebook II – The Simplest Winning Strategies Ever Published.

Today, I’ll give you a quick rundown of how it works. The system comes in three levels; KISS I, KISS II, and KISS III. Each level is slightly more difficult than the next, making it a progressive learning system that’s very simple to pick up on as you go.

Being such a simple card counting system, it’s not going to be quite as effective as the more complicated ones. You can expect to gain the following edge over the casino for each level of the system:

KISS I = +0.48% Edge

KISS II = +0.64% Edge

KISS III = + 0.70% Edge

KISS System for Card Counting – Level 1

Like most counting systems, the idea is to give a specific value to one or more cards. KISS I requires only 6 cards to have a value. Three are valued at +1, and 3 at -1, with all others being 0.

When a new shoe is introduced, the count begins at 0. Anytime you see a card with an associated value, you add or subtract 1 point, as noted. The values are as follows:

  • All Face Cards = -1

  • 3, 4, & 5 = +1

  • All Other Cards = 0

How does it work?

If the count becomes high, we know that a lot of low cards are missing from the deck. With more high cards remaining, there’s a higher chance of being dealt a natural blackjack. Thus, when the count is high, a player will increase their bet sizes.

Conversely, when the count is low, fewer face cards are left, reducing the odds of a natural blackjack. When the count is low, bet sizes should be reduced.

KISS II Card Counting System

Once you get the first level down, upgrading to KISS II is incredibly easy. All it does is add another card to the +1 and -1 sides of the count. This time, we add 10s (-1) and 6s (+1):

  • All 10s and Face Cards = -1

  • 3, 4, 5, & 6 = +1

  • All Other Cards = 0

KISS III Counting System

At the third and final level, one more set of numbers are added to the mix, Aces (-1) and 7s (+1):

  • All 10s, Face Cards and Aces = -1

  • 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 = +1

  • All Other Cards = 0

Unbalancing the System with Black 2s

If you’re playing single deck blackjack, the above rules are more than enough to gain a significant edge. However, most casinos use multiple decks—as many as 8 per shoe. Each additional deck makes a balanced count less effective.

I might know that 4 Aces are gone from a single deck, making a blackjack impossible. But with 8 decks, containing 32 Aces, experienced advantage blackjack players find it more reliable to convert a running count to a true convert. That’s a whole other mathematical equation…

Renzey adds the count of +1 any time a black 2 is dealt to unbalance the count, eliminating the need to convert to a true count. It’s easier to applaud than it is to explain, so I’ll leave it at that. You can grab his book off Amazon or eBay for all the details.

Suffice to say, if you’re playing 4+ deck blackjack, throw in +1 for black 2s. In its most effective, level III form, the KISSS card counting system will look like this:

  • All 10s, Face Cards and Aces = -1

  • 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 = +1

  • Black 2s = +1

  • All Other Cards = 0

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