REKO stands for Ridiculously Easy KO, and the REKO Card Counting System delivers on both counts. It is indeed a very easy card counting method to learn and it packs a big punch that can bring the casino to its knees.
The REKO system was popularized by Norm Wattenberger , the author of blackjack book Modern Blackjack and something of an Internet blackjack pioneer. Wattenberger has also developed software systems for perfecting the art of card counting. You won’t need a computer program to perfect REKO, however, because it is a very simple system to learn and use. The REKO system is actually a simplified version of the KO system which is very similar to the system used by the MIT blackjack team. The team from MIT beat the Las Vegas casinos for a massive amount of money and was the subject of the popular movie, 21.
It should be noted that the REKO system has suffered its share of criticism from dedicated card counters. Many say that REKO is just too simple to produce any kind of significant advantage for the card counter. We’ll leave that up to the individual player to decide.
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The Basics of the REKO System
The REKO system works like any other card counting method in that it uses numerical values assigned to each card in the deck to create a running count that is expressed by a positive or negative number. Positive numbers (+2, +3, +4) would indicate a deck that favors the player, and the player would subsequently increase their bets to capitalize on this advantage. A negative number (-1, -2, -3) is a sign to the player that the deck now favors the house and increased betting is unwise.
The thing about the REKO system is its lack of complexity. While it functions in the same fashion as more advanced methods of card counting, it does not use an advanced set of indices. Because of this the REKO system is best used in multiple-deck games. The fewer number of decks used in a blackjack game, the less powerful the REKO system becomes.
REKO is an unbalanced card counting system. Your starting count will not begin at 0. To get a beginning count you will multiply the number of decks in play by -2. If eight decks are being used, your starting count is going to be -16. In a six deck game your starting count is going to be -12. In other words, REKO is going to assume that the deck is immediately favorable to the house. Before any bets can be increased the running count must cross over into positive territory.
The reason for using an unbalanced strategy with REKO is to prevent the blackjack player from being led astray by a false indication. In a multiple-deck blackjack game the swings can occur often. By beginning the count in a negative range you can be certain that the deck is in your favor when the running count becomes positive.
The Card Values in the REKO System
Here are the card values you will be using in the REKO system:
We told you it was a simple system. There are very few indices to track in the REKO system, as you can see. Two cards, the 8 and 9, are not counted at all. What remains are two sets of five cards that are valued at +1 and -1, respectively. This means that pairs of these offsetting cards can be eliminated quickly and easily while the player is making the running count in when playing blackjack!
Summing up the REKO System
The REKO system has its share of pros and cons. Not everyone will appreciate this simple card counting method.
On the positive side, the REKO system can be mastered by anyone with minimal counting skills. In just a few hours of practice this method can be absorbed by the beginner and executed rapidly. It is important to be able to maintain the running count in a rapid fire environment because that is exactly the situation you will face at the live blackjack table.
The negative aspect of the REKO system is that some serious card counters will find it to be less efficient in single and double deck blackjack games. The number of indices used to assign point values to the cards are great when a lot of decks are in play, but they begin to lose potency when fewer decks are used.
No matter how you feel about the REKO system, remember that a variation of this system was used by perhaps the greatest team of blackjack players in modern history. That is a powerful endorsement of the REKO system.
When you play blackjack for money, it would be best to be familiar with various counting methods to improve your edge.