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counting cardsThe Uston APC (Advanced Point Count) Card Counting System can rightfully be placed among the most efficient and powerful card counting methods in existence. The supreme accomplishment of blackjack legend Ken Uston, the Uston APC was also published in Uston’s Million Dollar Blackjack in 1981.

After presenting a very simple method of card counting known as the Uston APM, Ken Uston wanted to offer up a method that could be used by the professional card counter. He designed the Uston APC to fill that need.

Because it is a card counting system that is very complex and difficult to learn, the Uston APC is not a system that will work well for beginners. Beginning card counters are advised to learn one of Uston’s simpler systems first before working their way up to the Uston APC. If you can master it, however, the Uston APC will provide you with one of the greatest percentage advantages to be found among card counting systems today.

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The Basics of the Uston APC

The difficulty of the Uston APC isn’t derived from the way the system is implemented. The Uston APC works just like other card counting methods.

Using the point values assigned to each card in the deck, the casino blackjack player forms a running count. This running count is expressed by a positive (+1, +2, +3) or negative (-1, -2, -3) number. A positive running count means that the deck favors the player and all bets should be increased. A negative number means that the deck is not favorable and all bets should be reduced to the table minimum.

The Uston APC is a balanced count which is also common to many card counting methods. This means that the running count begins at 0 and, in theory, ends at 0 when all of the cards have been dealt from the shoe.

Card Values in the Uston APC

This is where the Uston APC method gets tricky and difficult for the beginner. The Uston APC uses a large number of indices to assign value to the cards in the deck.

Here are the point values assigned to each card:

Card Value

2345678910JQKA
+1+2+2+3+2+2+1-1-3-3-3-30

You can see right away the inherent difficulty in this card counting system. It uses no less than seven different indices to value all of the cards.

When more indices are used for card point values it becomes much more difficult for a player to maintain the running count in live play. There are fewer cards which offset one another, forcing the player to pay closer attention to all of the cards as they are dealt.

What makes the Uston APC Difficult

There are two aspects other than the card values which make the Uston APC a difficult system.

Firstly, the Uston APC makes use of a true count in addition to a running count. The true count is designed to provide a more accurate representation of how favorable the deck has become. It works well, increasing the overall efficiency of the Uston APC, but it requires more mental effort on the part of the player.

To arrive at the true count a player must divide the running count by the number of decks which remain in play. This might sound like a simple thing to do, but when you are sitting at the blackjack table and the game is fast-paced it can become difficult.

Secondly, aces in the Uston APC are not counted in the running count. You can see in the list above that the aces are assigned a value of 0. In the Uston APC you must track the remaining aces in the deck in a separate count. You begin by multiplying the number of decks by four to get the number of aces (8X4=32). Each time an ace is dealt you will reduce that number by one to keep an accurate count of the number of aces remaining.

The reason aces are side reckoned in the Uston APC is because the player will look to combine a highly favorable deck (+3, +4, +5) with a deck that is rich in aces. When this happens the chances of hitting a blackjack are greatly increased.

Summing up the Uston APC

The Uston APC is so complex and difficult that Ken Uston himself has stated that it is not his preferred method of card counting. There are far easier systems available which will produce roughly the same percentage edge for the blackjack player. Stick with these systems unless you are willing to invest the time and effort required to learn the Uston APC.

9 Response Comments

  • steve kFebruary 24, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    5 has a plus 3 value not plus 2

  • countingedgeFebruary 24, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Hello Steve! Thank you for posting and notifying about the typo. Indeed it is a +3 & it has now been corrected. I am glad you came across the site and more importantly that you noticed the error. Have a wonderful weekend!

  • jamesJuly 19, 2014 at 1:44 am

    you divide by the number of half decks not full decks

    • countingedgeJuly 19, 2014 at 5:38 pm

      Hello James!
      Half decks is for more precision but also the method is to multiply by 2. It is best to start with estimating full decks.

      • soflalawAugust 7, 2014 at 1:51 am

        Please explain what you mean by “the method is to multiply by 2.”
        I can estimate discard trays to determine remaining half decks unseen (3.5 = 7/2), but I cannot understand what you mean when you say “to multiply by 2.”
        Thanks.

        • countingedgeAugust 7, 2014 at 4:44 am

          You multiply by 2 because in order to derive the true count you need to divide the running count by the number of FULL decks. If you are estimating half decks, great. Take the running count divide by the number of halfdecks and then you multiply by 2 to get the true count

  • navSeptember 10, 2014 at 4:33 am

    What is a player’s edge if he manages to remember every single card in the shoe?

    • countingedgeSeptember 12, 2014 at 9:49 pm

      Nav,

      Thanks for being a Counting Edge reader and posting your question. The answer to this question is actually quite complex but we will try to address it as best we can.

      The two primary methods of altering the house edge in blackjack are card counting and proper basic strategy. These two things are largely dependent on one another. In the best case scenario, using both of them perfectly can give the player a very slight edge over the house. That edge is usually 1% or less.

      Simply knowing every card in the shoe actually does not grant the player a significant edge, and here’s why. Even if you know every card that remains in the shoe you can never know in what order they will come out. Furthermore, you cannot predict the play of other players at your table. Finally, the entire shoe is never dealt at a live blackjack table. A yellow card is inserted about three-quarters of the way through the deck and this is where the dealer will shuffle up. Knowing every card in the shoe doesn’t affect those cards that are left in the shoe when the dealer shuffles up.

      Here’s the thing: card counting was developed so we don’t have to remember every card in the shoe. To really get an edge over the house in blackjack you mostly need to know how many tens remain in the deck compared to number cards. Card counting makes that process simpler. At any point in time a good count can give you a fairly reliable picture of whether the deck favors the player or favors the house. Of course, as we mentioned, having a good count without the use of good basic strategy won’t do you much good. You still have to know when to take a hit, when to stand, and when to double or split.

      To answer your question directly, knowing every card in the shoe does not, by itself, give the player a consistent edge.

      • SamJanuary 12, 2016 at 5:22 am

        I’ve been testing this out with my friends and have found in about 350 hands playing Spanish 21 with 5 decks (Changing J,Q,K to 4 to compensate for not having 10s), I’ve won 49.4%, Lost 43.1% and pushed 7.5%. It would be much harder to count cards in a casino though because of the pace of the game, and because they deal out so many cards every round.

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