The REKO System for counting cards uses an acronym for its name. "REKO" stands for "Ridiculously Easy KO". The goal of this system is to provide a super easy to learn system with a powerful edge over the casino. The REKO System is the brainchild of Norm Wattenberger, who owns and operates the QFIT site that we reference repeatedly on our pages about card counting.
If you've visited some of the other pages on our site, you've probably already read our main page about counting cards, so you probably already have an idea of the general principles behind the advantage technique. You might have even read our page about the "KO System", which is what REKO is based on—it's essentially a much simplified version of that system.
We'll provide information in broad strokes on these other topics on this page for people who haven't read those pages, but if you want specific details on either of those, click on the links to go to the appropriate pages.
How Card Counting in General Works
Counting cards in blackjack involves keeping up with the ratio of high cards to low cards in the deck. In that way, you can raise your bets when you have the advantage and lower them when you don't. You can also adjust your playing strategies according to how many high cards are in the deck.
Since a blackjack pays out at 3 to 2 odds, you're putting yourself in a positive position by getting more money on the table when you can win that hand more often. And if the deck has more aces and 10s in it than low cards, your odds of getting that blackjack increase.
Of course, taking insurance is widely known to be a sucker bet, but if the deck has lots of aces and 10s in it, and you know it, then taking insurance can become a positive expectation play, too. Card counters know when to take insurance and when to turn it down.
Card counters achieve this by assigning a value to various cards in the deck and adding or subtracting that value to a "running count". Some cards are good for the casino—the lower cards, for example. Others are good for the player—the high cards, for example. When the lower cards get dealt, the odds for the player improve. When the higher cards get deal, the odds for the casino improve.
Using the REKO System to Get an Edge Over the Casino
The first step in learning any card counting system is to determine what the values assigned to each card are. In the REKO System, those values are as follows:
- 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s, and 7s are worth +1.
- 10s and aces are worth -1.
- The other cards (the 8s and 9s) are worth 0.
One of the advantages the original KO System had over other counting systems is that it didn't require you to convert a running count into a true count.
Here's what that means:
In traditional card counting systems, you have to convert the running count into a true count by dividing the running count by the number of decks still in the shoe. This accounts for the way having all those cards in the shoe dilutes the effect of any single card being dealt.
If you're playing in a single deck game and one of the aces is dealt, your odds of getting an ace dropped by 25%. There are only 4 aces in the deck, and one of them is now gone.
But if you're playing in a game with 8 decks and an ace is dealt, your odds of getting an ace only drop by about 3%. That's because there are 32 aces to begin with, and losing one doesn't affect it that much.
Card counting systems gauge the ratio of high cards to low cards in a single deck, and they do a good job of estimating your edge and how much you should raise your bet in that situation.
But many players have trouble with estimating the number of decks left in the shoe and taking that extra step of doing the division.
That's where unbalanced card counting systems like the Red 7, the Knockout System, and the REKO System shine.
Most card counting systems have the same number of + values as – values. This results in a situation where the count at the end is 0.
In an unbalanced system, the count will end up higher or lower. You'll also start your count at a number other than 0.
What this does is eliminate the need for a running count to true count conversion.
In the REKO System, here's where you start your count, based on the number of decks in use:
The implications here are obvious. The more decks in play, the harder it is to get an edge, and the less often you'll have an edge. I can't think of another counting system that makes it more obvious what a difference there is between single deck games and multi deck games.
You can find full details for how this counting system affects your playing strategy at the official page for the REKO strategy here.
The REKO System is a great card counting system designed by one of the true experts in the field, Norm Wattenberger. It clearly owes a heavy debt to the Knockout or KO System, but it's a decided improvement.
The REKO System does as good a job of estimating your edge and telling you when to raise your bets as any other card counting strategy we've mentioned. It's also one of the easiest card counting systems ever devised. I have no trouble recommending this one to new or even experienced advantage players.