Recently Counting Edge has been asked a question about which card counting system would be better to learn, the Zen or the Hi-Opt II. Actually, we get asked this question quite often about many different methods. Blackjack players looking to improve their game are always comparing one system with another to determine which would be a better investment of their time. It’s a valid question because learning a new method can be very time consuming and few players are able to truly master more than one or two.
Using the Zen and Hi-Opt II as examples, let’s look at the things you should consider when choosing to learn a new counting method.
Simple or Advanced?
The first thing you need to ask yourself when choosing a new method is whether you want the system to be easy to implement or more advanced for a greater chance at profit. The answer to this question is most likely going to be found in your skill level and type of play. If you are a new card counter or a recreational player that just wants to level the playing field a little bit then an easier system like the Zen is what you will probably choose. If you are a true professional and spend hours each week at live blackjack tables, earning a living at the casino, you’re going to go with the Hi-Opt II. The added time it takes to master a more difficult system is worth it because your potential returns will be greater.
The Zen sort of simplifies the card counting process by not reckoning aces separately and simply adding them in with the regular count. This makes counting easier but any serious card counter will tell you that it isn’t as accurate as tracking the aces separately. So, in choosing this easier system you’re going to sacrifice some slight percentage in edge in exchange for taking the easy way out.
Hi-Opt II increases the number of indices used and also demands that aces be counted separately but in terms of percentage it is most likely going to outperform the Zen in the long run. That’s the key, though…in the long run. Comparing the effectiveness of the two systems side by side over a short time might not demonstrate the superiority of the Hi-Opt II. A short sample might even show the Zen to be more effective. Trust us when we say that over time the Hi-Opt II is a more accurate system that offers more potential for profit but it is not suited at all to a recreational player because it is going to take a long time to master.
Is the method obsolete?
A big question that gets asked very often is whether or not a card counting method becomes obsolete. This has certainly been asked of the Hi-Opt II. To answer this question you really need to look at the blackjack games you are playing in the live casino.
Have the rules changed that much? Granted, there are new variations of blackjack being introduced all the time and the casinos are toying with different methods to retain their edge, but the standard form of blackjack that was being played when these methods were developed is still being played today. That is dealer hits on 16 (and in some casinos soft 17) and stands on 17. The biggest variations to standard blackjack in recent years involve the number of decks used and. lately, how they are shuffled.
More and more live casinos are beginning to use automatic shuffling machines at the live tables. This hasn’t rendered card counting methods like the Hi-Opt II obsolete but it has rendered them less effective in terms of house edge. All card counting methods have been affected, not just the Hi-Opt II. Unfortunately, this is just a part of the evolution of the game and there isn’t much that can be done.
What is your card counting preference?
To sum things up, you really need to examine your card counting preference before you choose a new system to learn. If you are a very advanced player the Zen system is going to leave you cold and may even bore you a little bit. In fact, the Zen is the first system many beginning counters learn so if you have any amount of skill at all it will be a waste of time to regress in that direction. Challenge yourself at all times and all levels. When you master a system make sure the next one you choose is a step up the technical ladder. Doing that will improve your skills and long-term profitability.