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123 of 129 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should you learn this system?
I have racked my brain trying to decide if I want to learn the K-O count or the High-Low. I figure, why waste my time learning one system if I will eventually move on to another, more advanced system? Just start with the High-Low from the beginning!

But I have finally made my decision, and I feel this advice might help others trying to make the same decision...
Published on September 4, 2001 by John Salerno

versus
80 of 98 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A very badly written book
This is one of the most poorly written books I have ever read. The system is quite simple and could be explained clearly in a few pages of charts, but the authors have no idea how to make a clear explanation. It would take a conscious effort to make a simple idea any more confusing than has been done in KO Blackjack.
Unfortunately, while the KO count system...
Published on August 19, 1999 by R. M. Barge


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123 of 129 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should you learn this system?, September 4, 2001
By 
John Salerno (Houston, TX, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Knock-Out Blackjack: The Easiest Card-Counting System Ever Devised (Paperback)
I have racked my brain trying to decide if I want to learn the K-O count or the High-Low. I figure, why waste my time learning one system if I will eventually move on to another, more advanced system? Just start with the High-Low from the beginning!

But I have finally made my decision, and I feel this advice might help others trying to make the same decision. Is the K-O good enough to learn, or should you look elsewhere? Well, I'm no expert, but I have come to the conclusion, after reading much about counting systems, that it really makes no difference which system you use. The difference in expectation is very small, not to mention the potential for error in the more complicated systems like Omega II or APC. Even in a simpler level-1 count like High-Low, there remains that god-awful true count conversion (more room for error and delay). Of course, if you really want to play professional blackjack, you might want to eventually (or even right from the beginning) move to a balanced count system. But I have decided that while I want to play blackjack with an advantage, I never want the game to become a chore. I don't want to hate playing it. Therefore, it is not necessary for the recreational/casual player to learn anything more than an unbalanced count. Even if it's not the K-O system, you shouldn't worry about learning an advanced balanced count. The K-O system performs on par with all other similar systems, so the decision between which to learn is up to you (there is the Red 7 count and the Black Ace count, for example).

Now, as far as this particular book goes, I think it is fantastically written and presented. I read another review that says the book is poorly organized, but I honestly don't understand where that person is coming from. The book presents the K-O in steps, and by the end you will understand it. (My only complaint is that there are a few incarnations of the K-O count, eventually all coming together to form the K-O Preferred system, and it is not always easy to know what exactly is involved with each incarnation.) It may be necessary to re-read it, but if you plan to seriously learn to count cards, then you should expect to read it several times anyway. Another complaint I saw was that the authors do not explain why they assign the values that they do to particular cards. But this is also simply not true. Vancura and Fuchs give you a chart that shows the player/dealer expectation when certain cards are removed from the pack, and it is on the basis of this information that they assign +1 to 2-7 and -1 to 10, J, Q, K, A.

Anyway, if you are interested in learning a simple but powerful count that will perform well for recreational play, you definitely should read this book. It is wonderful. But not only that, the K-O is also considered a "professional" level count, so it cannot be written-off as a system not to take seriously. There is work to be done to learn it efficiently. And as Stanford Wong said in "Blackjack Secrets" (I believe it was that book), as long as you know a count that keeps track of low cards compared to high cards, then you are using a good system and do not need to move up to one that is supposedly more "powerful". (Of course, he wrote this before the K-O count was created, but I would still include it in his assessment). Besides, these systems that are "more powerful" are only theoretically so, and I think a lot can be said for the fact that because K-O is so simple, it may work more efficiently than even more advanced count systems.
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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A relatively easy-to-use card counting method that works, October 5, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Knock-Out Blackjack: The Easiest Card-Counting System Ever Devised (Paperback)
This book explains the Knock-Out ("K-O") set of point count values, which you use to determine when to raise your bet and by how much. Traditional card counting methods, such as the Hi-Lo, require you to compute a "true" count, which is the running count divided by the number of decks remaining to be dealt. But this type of computation can lead to errors since (1) you have to estimate the number of decks in the discard tray in order to be able to calculate the number of decks remaining to be dealt, and (2) you must then mentally divide the running count by the number of decks remaining. And you have to do all of this quickly enough so the casino personnel don't become suspicious that you are an advantage player; otherwise you risk being barred from playing blackjack at that casino.
The K-O, like the Hi-Lo, is a one-level counting method in that the point count value for each card is either 0, 1, or -1. High cards (10s and Aces) are counted as -1, neutral cards as zero, and low cards as 1. As the count gets more and more positive, the remaining cards to be dealt contain a greater number of high cards versus low cards. This means your chance of getting a blackjack is higher than right after a shuffle, and thus you should increase your bet to take advantage of this opportunity. But with the K-O, as opposed to the Hi-Lo, you do not have to compute a true count. You simply add the 0, 1, and -1 values as the cards are dealt to calculate the running count. Then you use just the running count alone to determine your bet for the next round. There is no need to track either the number of decks in the discard tray or the number of decks remaining to be dealt, and, almost too wonderful for words, there is no headache-inducing, "dividing in your head" required!
Amazingly, even with the simplicity of just using a running count to determine your bet amounts, the K-O provides about the same win rate as the Hi-Lo! I know this from running simulations on the excellent Blackjack 6-7-8 software written by Hal Marcus. By the way, I thought I died and went to heaven when I discovered the Blackjack 6-7-8 strategy cards. Just like the K-O count makes the betting decisions easier, these strategy cards make the playing decisions unbelievably easier. First of all, they look marvelous, and they feel like butter! But seriously, you just find the table that corresponds to the rules where you'll be playing, and then the large, easy to read, easy to remember, 3-letter, color-coded decision cells (including surrender, if you please) practically make the memorizing fun! If I have some time to practice, the Blackjack 6-7-8 software is the best, but when I keep putting it off until it's time to board the big bird from Chicago bound for Vegas, then I just whip out a strategy card, choose the table I want, and I can know it cold before the pilot says "fasten your seat belts, we're getting ready to land".
Now could you increase your win rate by using more complex counting methods than the K-O? Sure, in theory, but more complex counting methods increase the chance of making errors which can quickly nullify the benefit of using such a counting method. With regard to the betting guidelines in the book, I would amend them to use a bet ratio of 1 to 8 for 2 decks (instead of 1 to 5) and 1 to 16 for 6 and 8 decks (instead of 1 to 10), since in my 30 years of experience I have found that most casinos are usually tolerant of these bet ratios.
The authors' advice is valuable, their writing is easy to follow, and I like the humorous sidebars sprinkled throughout the book, such as the gumball analogy in Chapter 3 to explain why card counting works. But the K-O count methodology is simply superior, and that's really why I find it valuable to use the K-O count, along with the superb Blackjack 6-7-8 strategy cards from Stickysoft (search on: blackjack basic strategy), to make it as easy as possible for me to "get the edge" over the house!
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64 of 67 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you're a recreational player, this is the book for you!, July 1, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Knock-Out Blackjack: The Easiest Card-Counting System Ever Devised (Paperback)
Overall, this is an excellent book for casual or recreational players who want a simple BJ system, based on card counting, that will provide them with a definite edge over the house. The K-O System presented in the book is a level-1, "unbalanced" system that is as easy to use as it gets. The authors, Vancura and Fuchs, cover the basics of card counting and casino comportment in a very clear, concise manner. So, unless your goal is to play at the pro or semi-pro level, this may be all the BJ book you need. My only real criticism of this book is the disingenuous way the authors exaggerate the power of the K-O System. It's a good system, but, Vancura and Fuchs to the contrary, it can not and does not compare to real powerhouse systems such as Carlson's Advanced Omega II System, or Uston's Advanced Point Count. And, actually, there wasn't any real need to overstate the power of the K-O System; considering its ease of use, it's plenty powerful for most players.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Counting cards can be simple, this book shows the way., November 28, 1998
By 
This review is from: Knock-Out Blackjack: The Easiest Card-Counting System Ever Devised (Paperback)
If you have tried counting cards using other systems and have failed, then Knock-out Blackjack is the book for you. Not only is the system uncomplicated, but the authors layout a step by step progression of easily understandable techniques. The data supporting the K-O system is included in various chapters, yet you do not need to know or memorize the math. There is no dividing and they show you how to make a simple adjustment so you there are no negative number to work with. And it is easily adjustable to any number of decks.
When they say it is the easiest card counting system every devised, it is true. I have tried other systems and failed. But with K-O system the average person will have the advantage over the house for a change.
If you like to play BJ this book is a must.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Two Must Read Books, February 11, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Knock-Out Blackjack: The Easiest Card-Counting System Ever Devised (Paperback)
In terms of books that can take you from knowing almost nothing about blackjack to becoming a skilled player, there are two that I have found to be the best: Knock Out Blackjack by Fuchs and Vancura and Best Blackjack by Frank Scoblete. Scoblete's book is the more enjoyable and entertaining. However, the Knock Out book has a counting system that is truly easy to learn. My advice is to get both. Scoblete is a warrior who has been in the casino wars. His diary at the end of the book is priceless and his insights into what it is like to play in casinos is the best I have ever read. Fuchs and Vancura, on the other hand, have created a simple but powerful card counting system in KO that I have been using with great success for over eight months now. I think these two books are just super. I recommend that you buy both to truly learn how to beat the game of blackjack.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of great counting systems, February 16, 2007
This review is from: Knock-Out Blackjack: The Easiest Card-Counting System Ever Devised (Paperback)
I usually don't write reviews, but I decided to on this one, because there are some reviews that are idiotic. So, let me share with you my experience. Not only have I read this book, I have actually USED the system. Not only have I used this system, I have also used Hi-Low, and Hi-Low OptI. This book specifically tells you why he wrote it from the beginning, and mentioned all the ins and outs of the count. It is well written, and if you have IQ over 50, you'll understand it. Now the real story.

Basically unbalanced count was developed for the "real" world. Why, try Hi-Low OptI count for 8 hours at a packed casino. Try going there 8pm on friday night, and see if you'll find a table with 3 players only. LOL. You won't. Hi-Low OptI is very draining on your mental fatigue, I doubt even 20 year pros can keep doing it for that long. What they have to do is, do it for an hour and move on to another casino, or table after break. Same with Hi-Low, although easier, it is mentally taxing. I actually sat at a same table ($15) and played for 8 hours straight using KO. It's taxing, but not so much as balanced system. That's what it is designed for.

The book comes out telling you that it's not good as balanced count system, but by miniscule fraction! BJinsider did a great article (i think it's newsletter 29 - free) that showed how KO, Red7, BlackA did against Hi-Low on a 6-deck. Hi-Low was .68% gain, vs .67% for Red7, .65% for KO and .63% for BlackA. The great thing is you don't have to take his word for it. You can download some of these testing softwares or buy it, and run the test yourself, and you should get a similar results.

Now, the final point. All these statistics for counting are using A LARGE # of hands played, to minimize noise and get the actual true "worth" of the system. Remember, you have to play over million hands to actually see these results. .65% is little over 1% advantage over the house. You ain't going to make thousands consistently playing 500-600 hands a week. That why there was the mit "TEAM". They main objective is to get as many hands played possible (they also cheated little using team work, but we'll leave that for another day). If you can get 45-60 hands/hour, you can probably play 10-12 hours/day with break in between. that's like 600 hands avg a day. You have to play 7x600 = 4200 hands. 4200x50 = 210K hands. Do that for 5 years, and maybe you'll stiff 6 figure gain. You want a LIFE like that? (exaggerating little bit, but you get the point)

So, what I'm trying to say is KO is a GREAT system for casual players, as this book was written for. It's also a good system for pros, since it's similar to Hi-Low in returns. Don't expect to leave the casinos with a whad of cash, if you're lucky it can happen. I once made over $2k playing $15 table in 2.5 hours. So, it's possible with KO. But you gotta be lucky too. Because I've also been busted couple of times too ($400 max each session). It's over the long haul he's talking about. Oh, unbalanced system becomes more accurate as deeper you penetrate the deck, so don't go crazy early on. wait for 3-4 decks to be gone, so each deck you'll only have 2 or 3 chances to bet big. That's still good enough if you get lucky, since odds are with you. I played many shoes that I didn't even get to bet big, it's ok. This is the grind. Big spreads are best, but can get heat, so learn some stealth from this book or other books. Go there to have fun, make some money if you are lucky, just don't expect to be rich unless you plan on 12h x 7d x 50wks x50yrs BJ life. Hope this helps.

Edit: I forgot to add this tidbit, since I mostly play AC and they only have shoe games. But for 1 or 2 deck games, I'd recommend learning the Hi-Low as you want more accurate count then. But for shoes games KO and Red7 is just as nice.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The bottom line is that K-O works, March 14, 2003
By 
"bigboymoy" (Fall River, Ma United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Knock-Out Blackjack: The Easiest Card-Counting System Ever Devised (Paperback)
The first time I used K-O, I made $342 in less than 1.5 hours (8 deck shoe game, $15-75 bet spread). Now, you can argue whether or not K-O is as powerful as other card counting systems, but I think there are 2 undisputable facts: K-O is easier to learn than other systems and K-O is definitely easier to use. With the disclaimer that I already know the Hi-Low system, I learned the mechanics of the K-O system in less than a day and I went to a casino and tried K-O without any practice beforehand.
Because cards are dealt up in shoe games, the play is faster than in hand held (single and double deck) games which are dealt face down. With card counting systems that require frequent mental calculations there is the propensity for being pressured for time and the possibility of losing the count unless the player is very proficient. A system may be more powerful and have a greater expectation than K-O, but that does no good if the player loses the count and has to flat bet for the rest of the shoe. K-O does away with much of the mental gymnastics required by other systems. There is less time pressure to keep up with the dealer and less concentration needed. Mental fatigue becomes a nonfactor and there is the additional benefit of a player's cover being enhanced since he doesn't have to spend all his time concentrating on the cards.
I enjoyed using K-O. For me, it is now the weapon of choice against shoe games.
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simplicity Gives System the Edge, December 16, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Knock-Out Blackjack: The Easiest Card-Counting System Ever Devised (Paperback)
Here's four years and 14 blackjack books' worth of advice:1) Yes, you can beat blackjack by learning how to count--even against six-deck shoes.2) The biggest reason players lose after learning how to count is they are making counting mistakes and don't know it.3) Knock-Out Blackjack is the one level-1 system that virtually takes the mistake factor out of counting.That's the biggest reason it's powerful and that's why it works. This book is well-written, easy to understand, although the charts they use have been formatted better in other books.Read additional BJ books, of course, master other counts, but KO is essential to your repetoire, particularly for shoe players.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revolution in simplicity, January 23, 2001
By 
John May (Bristol, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Knock-Out Blackjack: The Easiest Card-Counting System Ever Devised (Paperback)
In the decades since Edward Thorp discovered card-counting theorists have been trying to create the holy grail of count systems:- a perfect blend of simplicity and power. K-O is that system. Its main strength is that it does not require the player to perform "True Count" conversion, which requires you to divide the player advantage suggested by your count system by the number of decks remaining, for many the most difficult and frustrating aspect of the process. Yet despite its simplicity KO is the most powerful level-1 betting system created.
Olaf Vancura and Ken Fuchs are highly respected blackjack experts. To get some idea of the quality of their contributions to blackjack theory you might like to view their profiles at dejanews.com.
John May (Author of "Get The Edge At Blackjack")
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real-time KO system testing in the casinos!, December 8, 2001
By 
"optrader" (Las Vegas, NV) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Knock-Out Blackjack: The Easiest Card-Counting System Ever Devised (Paperback)
This is one of the most concise and practical blackjack books on the market. The new blackjack player will have to spend some time (2-3 months) training, but once the Preferred and Betting strategies are ingrained, the results are spectacular. Here is my "study" of real-time KO play in Vegas. I played a 6-deck shoe with insurance, late surrender, using a scaled betting strategy of 6 units per 1% advantage (ramp of 6), and going out to a maximum of 20 betting units. In addition I used the "bad shoe" exit strategy (sit out bad shoes). KO played in this manner had a positive expectancy > 0.73%. In the real world, I have won 6 consecutive outings using strictly the KO system. In addition the avg. profit is about 3-4 times the base bet per hour (using the above criteria) in my experience. Each of my outing for KO was played with a minimum of 200 betting units and 20 hours minimum playing time. Each KO outing consisted of at least 1600 hands. Win accuracy > 70% in # of rounds played (3-hr session = 1 "round"). I never had a drawdown in equity of > 40 betting units at any one point in time (with my initial 200 betting units). My max bet was 14 betting units in one hand, and most never exceeded 10 betting units. Finally, minimal pit boss heat since most plays are consistent with basic strategy.

You must play aggressively and follow the precise play & betting strategies correctly! But KO is very easy to learn and master. One can get significantly better results using the same betting scale on more accurate systems like APC or AO-II (avg. of 10-20 times base bet per hour in expected profits due to the much higher playing accuracy and expectancies), but it does take much more effort to track the True Count and multiple level-counts. For recreational CONSISTENT & PROFITABLE playing, KO is tough to beat. If you want to be in the top 0.5% of all players, then learn AO-II, Uston APC, or Revere APC systems.
Good luck and train hard! Most of all, have fun knowing you are playing well - regardless of winning or losing! Just enjoy the moment of the game!
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Knock-Out Blackjack: The Easiest Card-Counting System Ever Devised
Knock-Out Blackjack: The Easiest Card-Counting System Ever Devised by Olaf Vancura (Paperback - October 1, 1998)
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