The Senior Count, a blackjack card counting system devised for players with poor eyesight, captures about 90% of the power of the full Hi-Lo blackjack card coutning system. An easy version of the Senior's Count is available for blackjack card counting players with even more impaired vision. For more blackjack card counting systems, from easy to professional level, see the Blackjack Forum card counting library.
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The "Senior's" Card Counting System: For Players with Weak Vision

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  The "Senior's" Card Counting System: For Players with Weak Vision
By Arnold Snyder
[From Card Player, September 1994]
© 1994 Arnold Snyder

Question from a Reader:  I do not have very good eyesight. I love playing blackjack, but as you might imagine, card counting is not easy for me. I have no trouble distinguishing aces, kings, queens, jacks, or 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s or 6s on the table, but I have great difficulty distinguishing 7s, 8s, 9s and 10s from each other when they are across the table from me. So, after learning to use the high low count at home, I found I could not use it in a casino environment.

Finally, I developed my own card counting system, which I call the ďSeniorís System,Ē for people whose eyes arenít what they used to be. The easiest version counts jacks, queens and kings as -1, and 4s, 5s and 6s as +1. Sort of like a simplified Hi-Opt I. The more advanced version, which I use, counts jacks, queens, kings and aces as -1, and 3s, 4s, 5s, and 6s as +1. That's my seniorsí version of the high low count.

Iíve been doing pretty well with this method of playing, but Iím wondering how good it really is. I use the standard high low strategy variations. What do you think?

Answer:  This is one of the most original (and best!) methods of card counting Iíve seen for anyone with who has vision problems. The ďadvanced Ē method is better. It has a betting correlation of about 90%, compared to the high lowís 97%; and a playing efficiency of about 43%, compared to the high lowís 51%. So, this ďSenior's SystemĒ retains about 90% of the power of the complete high low count. Thatís very impressive.

In the past, a number of blackjack players with poor vision have told me that the only system they could use was the Uston Ace-Five count, from Kenís book, Million Dollar Blackjack (SRS, 1981), which is very inferior to the method youíve developed. Ustonís Ace-Five Count has virtually no playing efficiency and is simply played with basic strategy. Aces count as -1, and fives count as +1. The betting correlation is about 53%, which is impressive only because the system is so simple. The 90% betting correlation youíve attained, however, despite your bad eyes, is quite an accomplishment.

I also suspect that most of the strategy indices you are using from will work pretty well with your simplified version of the high low count. The only computer software on the market that I know of that will devise strategy indices, and allow you to assign a 0 value to the ďpipĒ tens and a +1 value to the ďpaints,Ē is John Immingís Universal Blackjack Engine. If you have this software, or you know someone who does, you could devise strategy indices especifically for the Seniorís Count. If you do not have this software, my advice is to continue using the standard high low indices, as most of these are going to be pretty accurate for the Seniorís Count, and the few changes will be on more or less borderline decisions.

Played accurately, I would consider your Seniorís Count to be every bit a professional level system. Congratulations on developing a powerful method of card counting that can be used by the visually impaired!

The simpler version of your Seniorís Count, which ignores the aces and 3s, has a slightly higher playing efficiency (about 56%) than the advanced version, (and this is even higher than the high lowís 51%), but a considerably lower betting correlation, only about 80%. If you have no trouble distinguishing aces and threes, then the advanced version is definitely worth the effort. But even this simplified Seniorís Count is a vast improvement over Ustonís Ace-Five Count when it comes to total system power. Hi-Opt I indices from Lance Humble and Carl Cooperís 1981 book, The Worldís Greatest Blackjack Book (Doubleday), should work just fine if you do not have the software to devise the count specific indices.

Another excellent variation of your method would be to keep the simpler version of the Seniorís Count, using the Hi-Opt I indices for playing your hands, along with a side count of the aces for betting accuracy.

Somewhat off the subject, one of the most amusing stories Iíve heard about card countersí efforts at camouflage was from a counter who claimed he wore wraparound sunglasses and carried a cane and represented himself at the table as being totally blind! His wife would accompany him, her job being to tell him his hand total and the dealerís upcard. In fact, he had perfect vision and had no trouble seeing every card on the table. He claimed this act allowed him to use a very large betting spread while taking his time whenever it was needed to recall strategy indices, figure out insurance, etc. Whatever works!  ♠

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