The Zen Counting System

zen countThe Zen Count is another great card counting systems that was thought up and created by Arnold Snyder. This is an intermediate system, which makes it more complicated than the more simple Ace-Five and Hi-Lo; as it uses a different technique for card counting. It is not the easiest to learn and use, but Snyder always kept beginners in mind, and created the system in such a way that it could be learned by anyone, with practice.

For those that want to use any blackjack card counting system need to remember that it is necessary to know basic blackjack strategy, and be an expert at it before moving on to more complicated card counting. You can check out our blackjack basic strategy if you need to refresh your memory.

How It Works

Just like the other card counting systems, the Zen Count uses a point system that assigns a value to each card in a regular blackjack deck. The value placed on each card will help the player keep track of and count, which will then help them gain an advantage over the house.





























As you can see, the value each card is given is different than the more simple systems. Most other basic systems exclude the Ace from the count, but the Zen Count includes the Ace, which actually makes counting simpler; no need for players to exclude any card while counting on the fly.

Steps To Using The Zen Count

  1. At the beginning of each shoe, start with a count of zero.
  2. As each card is dealt, keep track of each and start your running count.
  3. After each hand is finished, use the running count to find the true count. The true count is found by dividing the running count by the estimated number of decks still left in the shoe (it is not imperative to be exact, but try to get as close as half a deck).
  4. Use the true count to determine what decisions should be made the next round.
  5. Continue tracking the cards dealt, until the shoe is over. Start over after the cards have been reshuffled.

Example Hand

With a fresh shoe and a starting count of zero, playing with a six-deck shoe, 3 players and the dealer. First round of cards are dealt:

You: Ace/5, Player 1: 4/9, Player 2: Jack/7, Player 3: 10/2, Dealer is showing a 3.

The running count would be: -1 +2 +2 +0 -2 +1 -2 +1 +1 = +2. With 6 decks left in the shoe, the true count would be: 2 / 6 = 0.33. After rounding, it would be a true count of +0.

You would need to wait until more cards are dealt to make a better count, but always remember to keep track of each card in order to make a proper running count.

Blackjack Betting

There are certain ways players can send red flags when counting cards, and one important factor is how a player is betting. Seeing as how the Zen Count is more complex, there is a higher degree of risk of being caught. So, it is important to set a betting spread random enough to avoid detection. A good tip for players: bet more after a winning hand, bet less after a losing hand, and bet the same after a push. This is what most non-card counters do, and casino managers know what normal behaviour is.

Example Bet Spread


True Count


+0 or Less

1 Unit


1 Unit


2 Units


3 Units


4 Units

+5 or More

5 Units

Each player can decide whether to change the number of units they want to bet with each true count. The one advice would be to set a minimum bet, and simply use the units to determine each additional bet from that, up to a maximum amount you are comfortable with.

Player Advantage

True Count

Player Advantage

+0 -1.00%
+1 -0.75%
+2 -0.50%
+3 -0.25%
+4 0.00%
+5 +0.25%
+6 +0.50%
+7 +0.75%
+8 +1.00%

The usual edge during any blackjack game is 1.00% in the casinos advantage, however, for every +1 added to the count, the player advantage gains 0.25%. By +4, the player and casino will be even, but as soon as the count reaches +8, the player will have a 1.00% advantage over the casino. This is a very good advantage that any card counter can use in their favor. Even if it is a small percent, like 0.25%, it still means the player is making a steady profit. The Zen Count actually gets higher player edge than Hi-Lo, proving how much more efficient it is.

Zen Count Summary

In essence, the Zen Count is the perfect system for those intermediate card counters, who have already mastered blackjack basic strategy, as well as the basic counting systems. This system is more complex, so players should not take it lightly. Remember, the more complex a system is, the easier the casinos can spot a counter. Make sure to always keep things random, like betting.