Wong Halves Count – Not for the Faint of Mental Math

Wong Halves card counting system for advanced blackjack players.

Professional Blackjack Stanford Wong Halves Card Counting System for Advanced Blackjack PlayersThere are three levels of point-count card counting systems. Level 1 counts are designated for beginner blackjack players looking to increase their RTP (return to player) in land-based casinos. Level 2 counting gets a bit more complicated, but will slightly increase a player’s RTP. Level 3 card counting strategies are much more complex, but again, the increase in RPT is very slight.

One of the greatest professional blackjack players of all time is a man by the name of Stanford Wong. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? He’s the best-selling author of more than a dozen gambling strategy books, including his first and most famous works; Professional Blackjack (1975).

In this book, Wong explains the classic Hi-Lo card counting method (ch.4), followed by his personal, expert method of blackjack card counting (ch.7), which he calls ‘Counting Halves‘. It has since become knows as the…

Wong Halves Card Counting System

The traditional Hi-Low counting and Wong Halves counting methods are very similar. They apply numerical values to each card. The corresponding value is added or subtracted from the running count for each card seen.

As Mr. Wong himself admits, counting halves offers the “same efficiency with respect to insurance”, and “requires the same amount of memorizing from tables”. However, this expert formula is more difficult to master, since some of the values are fractional halves. As such, there are more card-to-count values to memorize, and the running count won’t always be a whole number.

According to Wong, the benefit of upgrading to his Wong Halves count is that, “it will add about 0.1 bets per hour to your expected-win rate.

If that doesn’t sound beneficial enough to be worth your while, you’re either not committed to the ways of professional blackjack (in which any increase in RTP is worth the trouble), or you need more practice with beginner and intermediate card counting systems, like these:

The Wong Halves Count Explained

Stanford Wong’s Halves Count assigns the following positive and negative values to each playing card:

2, 7 = 0.5

3, 4, 6 = 1

5 = 1.5

8 = 0

9 = -0.5

10, J, Q, K. A = -1

The above description is clearly not the best way to go about attempting to memorize the point values of the Wong Halves card counting system. Being a method designed for advanced blackjack players only, the easiest way to learn the Halves Count is to compare it to the standard Hi-Lo system—which you should already have memorized—like this.

Card Hi-Lo Count Wong Halves Count
2 +1 +0.5
3 +1 +1
4 +1 +1
5 +1 +1.5
6 +1 +1
7 0 +0.5
8 0 0
9 0 -0.5
10 -1 -1
J -1 -1
Q -1 -1
K -1 -1
A -1 -1

Also similar to the Hi-Lo strategy is the fact that this is a balanced point system. Thus the running count requires conversion to a true count in multi-deck games with 4 or more decks in the shoe. Please scroll down to the True Count Conversion section here for more information.

Practicing the Wong Halves system may take some time. As usual, begin with a single deck of cards and work through the deck, one card at a time, keeping account along the way. You should end with a value of 0 once all cards are played. Continue practicing by this method until it comes easily, and with consistent success.

To make the most of this system, you’ll want to increase your wagers when the count is high (more high cards remain than low cards) and decrease your bets when the count is low (fewer high cards remain). The higher the count, the more likely you are to be dealt a natural blackjack. And therein lies the increased RTP when effectively utilizing this expert card counting system by Stanford Wong.

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