Zen Count System for Blackjack Card Counting

Blackjack Cards and ChipsIf you’re on the prowl for a solid intermediate level card counting system, the Zen Count system is one that you should consider. We’re a big fan of this system due to the relative ease of learning and implementing it. On top of that, it’s a more accurate card counting system than many of the other more basic ones currently available.

In our detailed guide on the Zen Count system, we’ll provide you everything you need to know to learn and use this system. Even if you don’t know the first thing about the system or counting cards in general, this page is built to help quickly equip you with all the necessary information. Below, we’ll start by filling you in on the basics of the system. After that, we’ll show you how it can be used to count cards. Finally, we’ve also included sections with tips on how you can avoid getting caught, and much more.

So that you can easily navigate this page, we’ve included jump links below. If you’re short on time or looking for the details on a particular aspect of the Zen Count system, these are a great tool to use. Just click on the one you’re interested in, and you’ll instantly skip ahead to that section. For those of you looking to absorb as much as possible about the Zen Count system, we’d urge you to read this page from start to finish.

Understanding the Basics of the Zen Count System

Before we get into the more advanced portions of this page, we wanted to ensure that you have a good understanding of the basics of the Zen Count system. Below, we’re going to equip you with some information on the basic building blocks and ideas that make up this card counting system.

Running Count

The main thing you’ll be doing with the Zen Count system is called a running count. As each card is dealt, you’ll assign it a value and then add that value to the sum of all previous values. While this might sound complicated now, it’s not that bad at all. We’ll walk you through the process below and give you tips on how you can practice a running count.

Starting Value

When using the Zen Count system, you’ll always start your running count with a value of zero. While some other systems have you start with a negative number to factor in the number of decks in play, this system luckily keeps it super simple and will always have you start at zero. Whenever the cards are shuffled, you’ll also reset your running count to a value of zero to restart the counting process.

True Count

If you’re playing blackjack at a table that’s only using a single deck of cards, there’s nothing else that you need to do. However, since it’s rare to find a single deck format of the game these days, you’ll also want to get familiar with the idea of a true count. The goal of a true count is to help take into account and offset the number of decks left in play.

For Example:

If there are still seven decks in play, that means that there are lots of aces and tens that could come out later. By using the true count conversion, you’ll have a more realistic picture of where you stand at any given time when playing blackjack.

Calculating a true count is simple if you’re good at division. To convert your running count to a true count, you divide it by the number of decks that you estimate are still left in the shoe. Let’s say if you’re playing at a table that’s using eight decks of cards and you think there are still five decks left in play, you’d divide your running count by five to come up with your true count. If you’re not the best at division in your head, this is something you’ll want to practice before trying to use this system for real money blackjack.


When your true count is high, that means that there are still many high cards left in the deck. In turn, that increases your chances of getting a blackjack, and it’s the higher associated payout. Conversely, if your true count is low or negative, that implies you don’t have a ton of high cards left in the deck. In this scenario, you’re less likely to get blackjack. In a later section, we’ll help you learn how you can use your true count to size your bets when playing the game.

Counting Cards With the Zen Count System

With the basics having been covered above, we now want to move you into this section focused on how you’ll begin to count cards using the system. Up first, be sure to check out and study this chart below. It showcases the cards you’ll need to track and the values that you’ll need to assign them when using the Zen Count system.

Start with a count of 0, then when you see a:

  • A: Subtract 1 from your running count
  • K, Q, J, or 10: Subtract 2 from your running count
  • 8 or 9: Do nothing (worth 0)
  • 2, 3, or 7: Add 1 to your running count
  • 4, 5, or 6: Add 2 to your running count

When you sit down at a blackjack table and are ready to begin counting cards with the Zen Count system, you’ll always start with a value of 0. From there, you’ll add the value of cards as you see them according to the chart above.

For Example:

If you start with a value of zero and the first card dealt is a 6, you’ll add two to your running count, bringing you to +2. Then, if the next card dealt is an ace, you’ll subtract one from your running count, meaning that your new running count is now +1 (2 minus 1). You’ll repeat this process for every card that you see.

Each time, simply add the card’s value to your current running count.

When it’s your turn to bet, you’ll have one extra step if you’re playing at a blackjack table that’s using multiple decks of cards. You’ll need to convert your running count to a true count by dividing your running count by the number of decks you think are left in the shoe. By doing this, it will ensure that the Zen Count system is appropriately accounting for all of the decks still in play. It’s this true count that will help you decide how much to wager on any particular bet. We’ll get you more details on this in the next section below.

Before we move on, it’s vital that you understand one thing. Whenever the blackjack dealer shuffles the cards, you’ll always reset your running count to zero. The reason for this is that whenever the cards are shuffled, it establishes a new potential pattern for the cards, causing you to start your tracking all over again.

How to Size Your Bets Using the Zen Count System

Red Poker ChipsNow that you know about the Zen Count system and how you can use it to count cards, let’s talk about how you’ll use the system data to help you size your bets.

At a high level, the lower your true count is, the less you’ll want to bet. On the flip side, if your true count is high, you’ll want to wager more since it means you have a higher likelihood of getting blackjack.

The easiest way to size your bets when using the Zen Count system is to use your true count as a multiplier for the table minimum.

Let’s say your true count is at +3, you’d bet 3x the table minimum. Under this construct, if your true count is negative, 0, or +1, you’ll simply bet the table minimum.

If you want to try something a bit different, you can also use a tiered betting system. Here, you’ll create buckets for your count.

For Example:

You might say that if your true count is +1 or +2 that you only bet the table minimum. However, if your true count moves up to +3 or +4, you’ll bet 2x the table minimum. By using a tiered system like this one, your betting won’t be quite as aggressive as our first sample above.

While we’ve given you some ideas above on how you can size your bets using the Zen Count system, it’s ultimately your choice to decide how to go about it. Feel free to experiment with different ideas until you find the betting system that’s ideal for you and your bankroll. Just don’t forget that the general idea is to bet as little as possible when your count is low and vice versa.

How to Practice the Zen Count System

Up next, we wanted to help you learn how you can practice the Zen Count system. Luckily, it’s not that hard at all to learn the system if you follow our suggested steps below. Grab a deck of cards, and you’ll be counting cards in no time!

Learn to Count a Deck

To begin practicing the Zen Count system, the first thing you need to do is learn how to count a deck. Luckily, it’s a very simple process. All you’ll need to do is deal yourself one card from the deck at a time. For each card, mentally assign it the value from the chart above. Then, add that value to your running count. You’ll repeat these steps until you’ve counted every one of the 52 cards in the deck. This is something you’ll want to do many times to help you get comfortable with the idea of counting cards using the Zen Count system.

Time Yourself Counting

A great way to track your progress with the Zen Count system is to time yourself. It’s as easy as starting a timer on your phone and seeing how long it takes you to do a running count through all 52 cards in the deck. When you do this for the first time, jot down the length of time it took you and use that as a baseline. As you continue to practice, work to reduce that time to as short as possible. The faster you can count a deck, the more efficient you’ll be when counting cards at a casino blackjack table.

Count in Pairs

Up next, you’ll want to begin counting a deck in pairs. By counting more than one card at once, this will increase the speed at which you can count cards using the Zen Count system.

To do this, simply deal yourself two cards at once as opposed to one. Then, analyze the combined value of those two cards. Once you’ve got that calculation done, add that total to your running count and proceed to deal yourself another two cards.

Distract Yourself

To help challenge your Zen Count system running count skills, it’s time for you to introduce distractions. Since casinos are loaded with distractions, like lights and sounds, it’s vital that you practice with some distractions happening around you. This will allow you a higher chance of success when you move on to counting at a real money blackjack table.

To get started with distracting yourself, it’s as easy as turning on your radio or television.

Once one of those is turned on, get back to counting a deck as you have before. You can even time yourself for this stage to see the impact that adding distractions have on your time. When you’re ready for an even more significant challenge, turn on the television and radio at the same time, and then repeat your counting steps.

Use a Friend for Observation

For this next level of practicing the Zen Count system, you’ll need to solicit the help of a friend. Be sure to grab a friend that you trust to be honest with you as their help is massive in you going undetected when counting cards at a real casino. The goal of your friend is to help point out any body language tells you may be giving off while you count cards using the Zen Count system.

Ask your friend to carefully watch your face, hands, and body to see if you’re doing anything that seems off to them. Some things that they can keep an eye on are you mouthing words under your breath or furrowing your brow. Should your friend notify you of any potential tells, work to eliminate them so that you have a lower chance of getting caught counting cards at a casino.

Refresh Your Division Skills

Division SignWhen implementing the Zen Count system, you won’t be able to use any device to help you with division. Because of this, you’ll want to refresh your division skills with some practice so that you’re prepared to do your true count conversions when blackjack card counting with the Zen Count system.

As you practice your running counts at home, occasionally force yourself to do a true count calculation. While it might be difficult at first, it’s better if you work out the division kinks at home before you head off to a casino to use the Zen Count system. Continue practicing until you feel like you’re ready to use it in a real-life setting or possibly using it online when playing real money blackjack.

Visit a Casino

For this next bit of practicing the Zen Count system, you’ll want to head to your closest casino. But you won’t be wagering your hard-earned cash on blackjack just yet. Instead, you’ll use real casino blackjack games to help you perfect your mastery of the system.

At the casino, find a table that has several players seated. Your assignment is to stand just behind the table and observe the game. However, as the game is played, your goal is to operate both running and true counts as if you were playing. By practicing this way, you’ll test your skills in a real casino setting with all of the distractions and speed. Continue this round of practice until you feel super comfortable that you can execute the Zen Count system in these conditions.

Only when you’re feeling good about all aspects of the system should you move on to the next step of practice.

Find a Low Stakes Table

When you’re ready to proceed with using your Zen Count system skills on a real money blackjack game, be sure to begin with a low stakes table. While you might be excited and wanting to jump into a higher stakes table to make more money, it’s always smart to begin small. By starting at a low stakes table, it will help you risk less just in case you don’t have everything perfectly dialed in yet. Once you’re feeling confident with the low stakes tables, you can work your way up to higher stakes based on your level of comfort.

Tips to Avoid Getting Caught Blackjack Card Counting

Since casinos don’t like players that use card counting systems, you’ll need to make sure that you do it discreetly so you don’t get caught by the casino staff. In this section, we’ve included our top 10 tips on how you can avoid getting caught when counting cards in a casino. As long as you follow these guidelines, your chances of getting caught should be dramatically reduced.
10 Dollar Bills

  • Tip your dealers: Unfortunately, card counters as a whole are known for not tipping so that they can increase their profit margins. However, if you also don’t tip, you’re more likely to be eyed as a potential card counter. Be sure to give your dealers a tip at least once or twice an hour.
  • Keep your betting spread small: Another way you might tip the dealers off to the fact that you’re a card counter is if you bet too large of a spread. Even if your true count using the Zen Count system is at 9, it doesn’t mean you should actually bet 9x the table minimum. To help fly under the radar, we’d suggest never betting more than 5x the table minimum.
  • Play at different casinos: As much as possible, we’d suggest you play at different casinos whenever you’re counting cards using the Zen Count system. By following this tip, it will be less likely that the casino staff will catch on to your card counting.
  • Gamble at various times: If you’re not lucky enough to have many different casinos near your home, then you may have to play at just one or two. For those of you in this situation, you’ll want to be sure to play at different times of the day. Instead of always playing in the afternoons, try also mixing in some mornings and evenings. The goal of this tip is to help expose you to different shifts of casino staff so that it’s less likely they can catch on to your card counting shenanigans.
  • Play with different dealers: Along with playing at different times, you should also ensure that you play with various dealers. If you end up playing with the same dealers too often, it may allow them to catch on to your card counting body tells. By playing at different times, it should make it easier for you to also play with different dealers.
  • Don’t sit at one table for an extended time period: Another great rule to follow when using the Zen Count system is to never sit at a table for too long. Try to change tables at least once an hour so that it limits the ability of the casino staff to notice you’re counting cards.
  • See if you’re being watched more than usual: If you’ve got a feeling that you’re being watched by casino employees more than is typical, it could be a sign that they are on to your card counting ways. Should you end up in this scenario, simply call it a day and head home so that you don’t end up getting caught and asked to leave.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol: A good general rule of thumb for gambling is that you shouldn’t drink too much alcohol due to how it can mess with your decision-making capabilities. When counting cards, it’s even truer since your ability to be successful using the Zen Count System relies on you to be able to remember the card values and keep a running count of them. Both of these can be extremely hard if you’re under the influence of alcohol.
  • Don’t overthink: While the use of the Zen Count system does require some brain power, you’ll want to make sure that you’re not overthinking. If you do, you’ll be more likely to show it on your face with an expression like a furrowed brow. Try to relax when counting cards so that you don’t overthink things too much.
  • Don’t give advice to your table mates: Lastly, one other excellent way to help yourself not get caught when counting cards is to never give advice to the other players at your table. If you give out information to others, you’ll get the attention of the dealer and will face increased scrutiny going forward. Keep the tips to yourself and ensure that you’re correctly executing the Zen Count system.

Additional Blackjack Resources

What you’ve found on this page is just a speck of the total collection of blackjack resources we’ve created on our website. Below, we’ve included features on some of our most popular additional blackjack resources. Hopefully, one of these can help you elevate your blackjack gaming skills.

Blackjack Strategy for Beginners

If you’ve stumbled upon this page, and you’re new to playing blackjack, you should pause on card counting for a short bit. The reason for this is that counting cards is a more advanced game strategy. Before you dive deep into this, you should check out our beginner’s blackjack guide. Here, you can get your feet wet with all the primary gaming strategies that you need to master before moving onto other topics like card counting.

Guide to Blackjack Card Counting

We’ve got loads of information on many other different blackjack card counting systems. If you’re just beginning your search for a card counting system, don’t miss our blackjack card counting guide. Here, you can learn about other popular card counting systems and also get more details about blackjack card counting in general.

Best Online Casinos for Real Money Blackjack

If you’re not already playing blackjack online, it’s something that you should look into. By playing online, you’ll be able to access some of the massive bonuses available at many online casinos. In some cases, these bonuses can amount to thousands of dollars. Also, playing blackjack online is a super convenient way to enjoy this casino game. To learn more about playing online and to see our top picks for the best online casinos for blackjack, check out our list of the best real money online casinos.

Zen Count System FAQ

Finally, we didn’t want to leave you without including some questions that we often receive about the Zen Count system. If you’re still missing some answers, we hope this section will aid you. Just click on one of the questions below if you’d like to see the answer for it.

Is the Zen Count System the Best Card Counting System Available?

When it comes to card counting systems, there are many great options available, and the Zen Count system is definitely one of them. What we like most about the system is that it’s an excellent intermediate system that’s not too complicated to learn or use. While there are other systems available that are more accurate, those other systems are also more complex.

Does This Card Counting System Ensure I Win at Blackjack?

No. When it comes to the Zen Count system, and all other card counting methods currently available, none of them ensure you will win when playing blackjack. However, the good news is that if systems like this one are properly used, you should be able to get an edge on the casino. Thanks to this, you’ll have a better chance of making some money when you play blackjack.

Is It Legal for Me to Count Cards Using the Zen Count System?

Luckily, it’s not illegal for you to count cards no matter where on earth you live! Since card counting involves you keeping track of the cards you’ve seen using your brain, it’s not any sort of cheating or trick. However, if you end up using a device other than your mind to help you count cards, you may be breaking the law depending on where you live.

Is This the Card Counting System I Should Use?

If you’ve investigated many different card counting systems and you feel like this one is a good fit for you, then this one may be it. For those of you that haven’t done much research into different card counting methods yet, we’d suggest you start there. There’s a wide variety of systems out there from very simple to very complex. As you check out your options, aim to find the one that’s easy for you to learn and use in real life. By doing this, you’ll have the highest chance at successfully counting cards while playing blackjack.

Does This System Work With Online Forms of Blackjack?

It’s possible that you could use the Zen Count system to count cards when playing blackjack online. However, it will only work for a specific form of online blackjack. If you’re planning to play a traditional form of the game, the Zen Count system won’t work. Since many traditional forms of the game automatically shuffle the cards after every hand, card counting is impossible no matter what method you’re using.

However, the Zen Count system should work if you’re into live dealer blackjack. With this form of the game, you’re able to see the table, cards, and dealer all thanks to a live feed from a casino. As long as the table isn’t using a continuous shuffling machine, you should be able to implement the system and use it to help you get a small edge on the online casino.

Conclusion on the Zen Count System

Hopefully, we’ve been able to help you learn everything you were hoping to about the Zen Count system. For those of you that have never visited our website before, take a few minutes to check out some of the other free and valuable gambling-related resources that we provide. You’ll quickly see that we’ve got tons here to help you increase your knowledge on all forms of gambling.

Thanks for reading and good luck with your future use of the Zen Count system!