73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2003
Gem says it all!
It took 30 years, but somebody has finally taken all the hi-tech blackjack strategy that you need to actually beat the game and reduced it into clear layman's terms. This book turns basic strategy into an artform with 7 hands that should be played "against the book" if the right cards are on the board. It also touches on a provocative angle that I've never seen dealt with before, "Hand Interaction" (completing other players' doubles for less, taking part of their advantageous splits, pawning off one of your own disadvantaged split cards, etc.)
The author, an obviously accomplished card counter presents some laughingly simple ways for a basic strategy player to identify a shoe that has become heavy in Tens and Aces, then shows exactly how to bet and play that shoe through to the end.
The book is littered throughout with graphic card hand illustrations which really drive home its salient points. It also contains the new unbalanced KISS Count which makes basic card counting about as easy as it can get. Later in the book, the reader is shown how to refine the basic Kiss Count into a full scale performer.
The chapter on advanced skills and techniques contains useful gems, particularly a list of 15 "camouflage" plays that a journeyman counter can use to hide his proficiency. I wish this book was around 15 years ago when I was struggling with all the more tedious handbooks on advantage play. This one's a real smooth read, and provides some new insights besides.
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2003
Although I've been playing "advantage" blackjack for many years, I still found this book to be helpful and educational. It was a reading delight with a comprehensive sequential arrangement, smoothly moving from basic strategy - to basic refinement techniques - to amateur card counting - to advanced card counts.
Its chapter on the "art" of skillful play offered some advanced, yet easy tactics regarding camouflage, truing up an unbalanced count, etc. Even the pure recreationalists will find practical ways to improve their game beyond correct basic strategy by using information from the cards showing on board. There is also quite an interesting analytical perspective on betting progressions.
One thing I liked in particular was that nearly every strategy or technique presented was given a percentage value, backed by millions of computer generated hands. That gives us all a better feel for what our various efforts are worth; something I haven't always had.
Another big plus was all the card hand graphics that were used throughout to illustrate its strategic points. For hard to grasp concepts, the pictures were a big help.
After reading 20 blackjack books, if I can get just one or two new helpful things from the next one I consider it time well spent. This one provided lots of them.
53 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2006
This may be perhaps the best blackjack book ever written. "Blackjack Bluebook II" has things that I have never seen in any other blackjack book. Did you know that you can get an advantage in a six-deck game by counting the number of ten cards? After two decks have been dealt, you may have an advantage--and you will not have to count anything for the rest of the shoe! Did you know that if there is a hand with an inordinate number of "babies" (low cards) compared to ten cards, you also have an advantage for the remainder of the shoe? Read it and reap.
Renzey also has tidbits like the "Rule of 45": if you have a total of sixteen versus the dealer's ten, and one of the cards is a four or a five, then the proper play is to stand, not hit! Renzey will help the serious player who does not want to count cards narrow the casino's edge to a sliver. If you do want to count cards, there are three counting systems in here of increasing complexity. This book is excellent in every possible way; if you plan on playing blackjack seriously in a casino, you should not be without this book.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2005
Not many blackjack books worth their salt are written in such an easy to comprehend style as this. It provides an extensive basic strategy section which goes on to explain the reasons why many questionable plays are correct. It also does a convincing job of debunking prevailing blackjack myths, such as the Sacred Order of the Cards, the Bad Player at Third Base, etc. There's an enlightening section on the value of getting involved with other players' doubles and splits. The author also introduces some innovatively simple ways to identify an advantageous shoe without card counting in the conventional sense. The book's KISS Count takes unbalanced card counting to a more developed level with all positive starting counts, individual index numbers for about 20 basic strategy revisions and clear tips on how to fudge its indices for true count accuracy. The technical section offers some interesting camouflage plays for card counters including calculations of their costs. In all, I found it to be an ideal training manual for developing the skills to win.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2005
I played plain basic strategy blackjack since forever. I had dabbled in card counting just enough to realize that it was too technical for me. Glancing at the KISS Count in Fred Renzey's book, it appeared much simpler to learn, and was. After using it once or twice a week for a full year, I had my first winning year ever. There's a big boost in confidence when you can usually anticipate what kind of cards to expect on the next hand. I've turned a huge corner in my game.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2005
This is exactly what Joe and Jane Average need. It has been known for many years that blackjack can be beaten by very good players. Becoming that "very good" player is what has always been the obstacle. Bluebook II cut through the gobbleygook and presented the most straightaway methods to bonafide winning play that I have seen. IMHO, it brings legitimate advantage play within the reach of the common player. The Ace/10 Front Count is poetic in its sheer simplicity and the "expandable" KISS Count (which stands for "Keep It Simple Stupid") makes older plus/minus count systems appear superfluous and archaic by comparison. I don't think gaining the edge at blackjack can be made much simpler. My two cents worth.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2003
For anyone new to blackjack or thinking about taking the next step up to card counting, I don't think you can do better than Fred Renzey's book. For the newcomer, his chapter on basic strategy is the best I've ever seen. For someone that wants some added skill plays without counting cards, his info on deviating from basic strategy based on which cards are face up on the board at the moment is something I haven't seen elsewhere. And, he offers something a lot of authors don't in regards to card counting....making it as easy or as complex as you want. You could probably learn the Ace/10 count on the plane as your flying to Vegas. The unbalanced KISS counts (I,II, or II) progress in complexity...and in your expected return. (For the more savy out there, the Stage III Kiss is
similar to the KO system, but is perhaps a shade easier to use and has a net edge of .70% over the house vs KO's .68%.) And then if you're hard core, the Mentor Count is as good of a Level II system you'll find. This book will take you from an introduction to the game to advanced counting as you pick your own level of comfort, so to speak. And anyone considering Knockout Blackjack should start here.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2004
Right from the introduction called, "This Book in a Nutshell", I liked the factual writing style and implied content of this book. It was realistic, highly instructive and logical.
I don't think there was a weak chapter in it, covering ground all the way from disproving popular myths to tutoring advanced card counts. The basic strategy chapter is a standout, followed by an insightful chapter on strategy refinements that go just beyond basic strategy. It also illustrates some simplified, general ways to keep track of the most important cards.
The book's hallmark may be its introduction of the unbalanced KISS Count, which looks more thoughtfully produced and user friendly than any system to come along in a couple of decades. The section for card counters on skillful tactics sets the known important stuff in perspective, and introduces a few new plays of its own. Well worth the money and time to read it.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2005
For someone who is looking to progress beyond plain basic strategy, I thought the book was very helpful. Lots of "murky" so-called blackjack axioms that were just mental "sticky points" got clearly explained. The Ace/10 Front Count is just the kind of casual thing I was looking for to take my game up a level, without getting too serious. It is truly easy to use at the table, unlike the technical counting systems I have seen. Great book for polishing up one's game.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2006
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I found this book very easy to read and understand. Great book for the beginning to intermediate counter. The KISS method is comprised of 3 levels, the first of which is very easy to use. As a beginning counter, I first tried to use the High-Low (H-L) method in Professional Blackjack, by Stanford Wong.
I found - as a beginner - that counting is not an easy chore, especially when in a casino. So, I tried a crash course in the basic version of the KISS method before heading to a casino and found it quite easy to use. It's a great tool for learning to count cards. Since then I have progressed into stage II of the KISS method and am finding it very easy to move forward (although this has only been on a simulator).
The KISS strategy has a couple of things going for it. For one, at the Stage I level you don't need to track nearly as many cards as the H-L, or other methods. Therefore, it's easier to stay on top of the count. And two, you begin your count on a fairly large, positive number. In H-L you're constantly bouncing back and forth across zero, going from negative to positive numbers. Tracking card counts is daunting enough without having to go from negative to postive numbers and back.
Last, it's still a big improvement over playing a basic strategy, as is any card counting methodology. Plus, you can improve your odds even more by progressing to Stages II and III, the latter of which has odds that are as favorable as the H-L.
I recommend this book if you're new to card counting or if you're an intermediate. It's much easier to read than Wong's book, although it's not as thorough. However, there's something to be said about simplicity.