- Ken Smith

I was asked by a friend a few weeks ago to take a look at his new book "The Color of Blackjack". What started as a basic review turned into a lot more, because I felt I had to extensively test his system to see if his claims were accurate.

Simming his system was moderately complicated, but I was pleased to find that CVData has features that were up to the challenge. In particular, I ended up using the Multi-Betting Strategy feature, and the "MRI" feature to hone in on what was going on under the hood of his system.

First, a little about the book's author...

I've known Daniel Dravot for quite a few years now. He's a successful and experienced pro player. He's been on the road playing blackjack all over the country for many years and gambling has long been his sole source of income.

What I did not know (until I received a review copy of his book) was that he uses KO as his count system. That was surprising to me. Even though I have long recommended KO to new players, I always thought there was a small performance penalty to pay for the simplicity and convenience of KO. Other recent posts on this board have espoused the idea that KO may outperform Hi-Lo when you compare them "apples to apples". (That's a tricky thing to do by the way!) When I learned Daniel was a KO user, that was a shock.

Daniel's book describes his addition to KO which is a workable way to gain some of the advantage you could have with TKO (True-Counted KO).

So, what did I find in the sims I ran?
(COB is my abbreviation for Color of Blackjack, not his.)
In 6D (66% pen), COB adds 13.5% to KO's earning rate.
In 6D (75% pen), COB adds 4.4% to KO's earning rate.
In 6D (83% pen), COB adds 2.4% to KO's earning rate.

In the better games the improvements are relatively modest. In the poorest games, the improvement is more noticeable. To me, the primary effect is that KO becomes playable in more venues.

My opinion of the book: What is the easiest and most powerful card counting system? TKO as taught in "The Color of Blackjack". A bold statement that I was happy to confirm. I think it yields value to anyone considering KO. Even if you choose not to use the system formally, your understanding of the game will be better for your exposure to Daniel's ideas. His information is accurate and well-presented. There's also a useful chapter called "What Pros Know" that covers in just a few pages some excellent advice on avoiding back-offs, and how to best schedule your plays.

Here are the SCORE improvements.

These numbers use only a 1-10 spread, because I wanted to be able to use the exact bet ramp from the KO book to compare.

Game              KO SCORE   COB SCORE   Improvement
6D 83% 1-10       15.48          16.69          7.8%
6D 75% 1-10        9.08           9.65          6.3%
6D 66% 1-10        4.61           5.37         16.5%

About Ken Smith:

I'm Kenneth R Smith, the creator of
I've been an avid blackjack player for many years though I began playing more frequently in the early 1990s when casino gambling arrived in my home state of Mississippi. In 1994, I participated in a blackjack tournament for the first time, and I've been on the tournament trail ever since, tallying more than 40 first place finishes to date.
I began writing tournament strategy articles for Blackjack Confidential magazine in 1995, and over the years I've gained a reputation as a leading tournament strategy expert. My work can still be found on a monthly basis in the new All In Blackjack magazine, as well as Henry Tamburin's email newsletter BJ Insider.