The Victor APC Blackjack Card Counting System
FROM ET FAN:
The Victor Advanced Point CountBy Rich Victor
[From Blackjack Forum Vol. XV #4, December 1995; updated 2005]
© 1995, 2005 Blackjack Forum
[Editor's Note: I don't often see new card counting systems that are truly original and offer something of genuine value for players, and I am especially cautious about recommending higher level counts, but I consider this one promising.
For a level three system, Rich Victor's chosen count values do offer surprising simplicity, as he explains, when counting two- and three-card combinations. In the original version of this article published in 1995, strategy indices were not included, but the author has provided them in this 2005 update of his system. --Arnold Snyder]
If you are unwilling or unable to accurately compute a true count at the blackjack table, the Victor Advanced Point Count (or "Victor APC") is not for you. For everyone else who aspires to be a successful card-counter, but especially those who can properly use an ace side-count, the Victor APC is worth a close look. It combines level-three accuracy with nearly level-one simplicity.
Ace = 0
Ten = -3
9 = -1
8 = 0
7 = +2
6 = +2
5 = +3
4 = +2
3 = +2
2 = +2
The Victor APC came into being when I was studying the Uston APC in 1991. I noted that the seven denominations of cards below nine were assigned three distinct values: +1, +2 and +3. This made it necessary both to specifically identify every small card by denomination and to memorize the point-values of dozens of different two-card combinations, since most cards are counted in pairs. It occurred to me that the counting process would be greatly simplified by eliminating the +1's, which could be accomplished quite easily by upgrading the deuces to +2 and downgrading the eights to zero.
Not only would those adjustments maintain a balanced (13-point) count, but the playing efficiency would suffer very little and the betting correlation would actually improve. These assumptions, initially based on the respective removal values of deuces and eights as listed in Peter Griffin's The Theory of Blackjack (1988 edition), were confirmed by calculations under Griffin's formulas for playing efficiency and betting correlation. Specifically, the playing efficiency fell only one percentage point, from 69% to 68%, while the betting correlation rose from 91% to 92% without ace adjustments and from 98% to better than 99% with ace adjustments. (For betting purposes only, each ace "rich" adds 3 to the running count, and each ace "poor" reduces the running count by 3.)
The simplicity of the Victor APC hinges on a critical mental adjustment. You need to think of the denominations below eight as either fives (counted as +3) or "smalls" (counted as +2). After a little practice, deuces and sixes, for example, will begin to "look alike" for counting purposes, just as certain small cards look alike (and have like values) in level-one systems.
Once the "fives and smalls" mindset is firmly in place, you can turn your attention to the values of the various two-card combinations; i.e., those that do not contain any aces or eights (the only zero-value cards). Unlike the Uston APC, the Victor count has only 10 two-card combinations without zero-value cards:
5 - 5 = +6
5 - s = +5
s - s = +4
5 - 9 = +2
s - 9 = +1
5 - T = 0
s - T = -1
9 - 9 = -2
9 - T = -4
T - T = -6
Additionally, these three-card combinations are well worth mastering:
s - s - T = +1
s - T - T = -4
The Victor count has an insurance correlation of 89%. The insurance index per half-deck is 2.8 for single-deck and 3.2 for double-deck. No insurance index is needed for shoe games; just insure when 30% of the running count exceeds the number of half-decks remaining in the shoe. In hand-held or shoe games, ace side-counters can increase the insurance correlation to 91% by following a different guideline: Insure when 55% of the running count exceeds the number of unseen aces. (Alternatively, insurance should be taken when the running count divided by the number of unseen aces exceeds 1.83.)
The strategy tables that accompany this article are geared to six-deck games, but the indices for four, six or eight decks are essentially the same. To avoid fractions, full-deck indices are displayed in the tables, but you are strongly encouraged to compute the true count per half-deck for greater accuracy. If you use half-deck computations, just divide each index in the tables by two.
If you're not inclined to side-count aces, the Victor APC's 68% playing efficiency will still prove very effective in single-deck games. But for ace side-counters, the 99%-plus betting correlation of the ace-adjusted Victor count will put you at a significant advantage regardless of the number of decks in play.
Side-counting is somewhat discouraged by Bishop Snyder and other blackjack notables on the grounds that it's too difficult in relation to the modest gain it brings. That may be sound advice for the average player, but for the mathematically adept, utilizing an ace side-count is relatively easy and the rewards considerable. For most players, the alternative to side-counting is to use a primary count that assigns a non-zero value to aces. Including aces in the primary count typically produces a fairly good betting correlation but decidedly inferior playing efficiency.
Just how easy is it to side-count aces? Well, you can do it on one hand. Simply re-position your thumb on one or another of your fingers every time an ace appears. Your fingertips represent the first four aces; intermediate joints of each finger are markers for aces 5 through 8; and the bottoms of each finger signify 9 through 12. The next 12 aces are recorded in the same sequence as the first 12; and aces 25-32 (in eight-deck games) are marked just like the first eight.
If you're able to handle the finger-mechanics described above, as well as ace-adjusting the running count for betting, the Victor APC will reward you with a near-perfect betting correlation and much better playing efficiency than if your primary count included aces.
In case you're wondering how the Victor APC stacks up against the highly regarded Omega II, here's the comparison: Victor has a far superior insurance correlation (89% to 85%), slightly better playing efficiency (68% to 67%), and a higher betting correlation by a hair (both 92% without ace adjustments and 99%-plus with ace adjustments).
More significantly, Omega II has the same drawback as the Uston APC, Wong's Halves, and most any other multi-level system except the Victor APC: the need to memorize dozens of two-card combinations. Am I saying that my level-three system is not only more accurate but also easier to master than Omega II, the king of the level-twos? Absolutely.
Your current counting system is almost surely less accurate -- and quite possibly more difficult -- than the Victor count. Why not move up to the Victor APC and a higher win rate? ♠
VICTOR APC STRATEGY CHARTS
* Three or more cards
DOUBLE DOWN, HARD TOTALS
DOUBLE DOWN, SOFT TOTALS
* Hit below the index, stand at or above the index
LATE SURRENDER (S17 ONLY)
S = Stand, H = Hit, D = Double Down (if doubling not available, then hit), Y = Split, N = Don't split
1 = Split if below this index
For more information on professional-level card counting systems, as well as other ways professional gamblers win at blackjack, see Blackbelt in Blackjack by Arnold Snyder.
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