Uston Advanced

Uston Advanced Counting System

Ken Uston once said that learning the Uston Advanced Count (APC) was no more work than what was required to become an average chess, backgammon or bridge player.

The funny thing was, he didn’t use this system himself. In fact, he created additional systems that are easier to learn and use.

My point? The Uston Advanced Count is a blackjack system with over 163 variations to memorize. It’s not for beginners, or for those dabbling in blackjack strategy. The APC is for intermediate to advanced blackjack only.

Read on at your own risk…

Who Created the Uston Advanced Count?

The Uston Advanced system was created by Ken Uston. He was a professional gambler and writer known for his card counting systems, books, teams, lawsuits and disguises. Over his lifetime he made millions of dollars from casinos, sometimes betting as much as $12,000 per hand.

One story Ken Uston is famous for is his lawsuit against the New Jersey casinos. There is a law in the state that casinos cannot punish advantage players aka ban them from their casinos for counting cards. However, after taking more than $150,000 in the span of 10 days, Ken Uston and his team, were in fact, banned from playing. He turned around, fought the system and won. As a result the casinos had to change their games, which included shuffling the decks more often, using more decks and changing the rules to increase the house edge.

How Easy is it to Learn the Uston Advanced Count?

The Uston Advanced Count is a difficult card counting strategy to learn. It’s not for beginners. If you’re a first timer looking for a card counting system, the Hi/Lo or Knock-Out System will be much better for you.

To give you some perspective, the Uston Advanced Count is a level 3 card counting system. That’s out of 4 levels, with the 4th being the most difficult. Using this system you’ll have to memorize and assign 1 of 5 different values to each card. In addition, you’ll need to keep a side count for aces and calculate the true count.

On the plus side, the Uston Advanced Count is effective. It ranks well for insurance betting at 90 percent accuracy, and correlated betting at 91 percent. Done correctly the house edge will swing as high as 1 percent in favor of the player.

That being said, there are other card counting systems that will give players a 1 percent edge, too. So you’ll have to determine how much more of an edge learning this system will give you, compared to learning a level 1 or 2 system. As I said in the beginning, Uston noticed how difficult this system was for beginners to learn. So he created other systems for lesser experienced players to use. I’m going to cover one of them below called the Uston Advanced Plus-Minus System.

How to Use the APC System

The Uston Advanced Count assigns a value to each card. The cards and the values you will assign to each are as follows:

  • 2, 8 – Count +1
  • 9 – Count -1
  • 3, 4, 6, 7 – Count +2
  • 5 – Count +3
  • 10, J, Q, K – Count -3
  • A – Count 0

This is a balanced count system. What that means is if you count through an entire deck of cards (correctly) you should end up with a count of 0.

For example, say you were dealt the following cards:

2, 3, 6, K, A, A, 4, 9

You would assign the following values, all the while keeping a running count:

+1 (+1), +2 (+3), +2 (+5), -3 (+2), 0 (+2), 0 (+2), +2 (+4), -1 (+3)

So your current count would be a +3. That means the deck is richer with 10-point cards, which puts the odds in our favor. So based on a bet spread you’d want to wager a couple of additional units. However, you’ll want to keep a true count to know for sure how much to bet. To do that you take your count and divide it by the number of decks left in play. For example, if your running count was 3 and there were 1.5 decks left, you’d end up with a +2. This "true count" will give you a more accurate idea as to what to bet (according to your bet spread guidelines — this varies, there is no set guideline).

Keep in mind, too, that the APC System does not track aces. You’ll need to keep a side count. The best way to do that is to multiply 4 by the number of decks you’re playing with to get a total number of aces. Then for every ace you see subtract 1 from your total.

How to Use the Uston Advanced Plus-Minus System

The Uston Advanced Plus-Minus System is similar to the Hi/Lo System in that you only assign a +1, 0 or -1 to each card. This is considered a level one card counting system. Here are the cards and the value for each one:

  • 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 – Count +1
  • 8, 9 – Count 0
  • 10, J, Q, K, A – Count -1

This system was created primarily for hand-held blackjack games, which you don’t see in casinos anymore (due to players like Ken Uston exploiting them). However, from what I understand it can still be used for multi-deck blackjack games. If you use this system you’ll need to keep a true count. So if that’s a problem you’ll want to use the Knock-Out System instead.

Books That Mention the System

The two books that "detail everything Ken knows about blackjack," include Million Dollar Blackjack and Ken Uston on Blackjack.

If you want to read non-APC material, then Ken Uston has also (co) written One Third of a Shoe and The Big Player. These talk more or less about beating the house, building a team that beat the Resorts International and very basic instructions on how to beat the casinos at blackjack in Atlantic City and Las Vegas.