Wong Halves Blackjack Card Counting System

Beginners be warned: Wong Halves is a truly complex, difficult method of card counting to master! Novice blackjack players would do well to get a firm grasp of easier systems like Hi-Lo or Knockout before trying their hand at Wong Halves. First appearing in his book, Professional Blackjack, Wong Halves was developed by Stanford Wong way back in 1975. It may take some hard practice to get the hang of Wong Halves, but once you do, it can give one of the most accurate advantage counts available.

How the Wong Halves Count Works

Wong Halves isn't something that can be learned overnight. It takes hours of practice, with several of those hours dedicated to simply memorizing the complex array of point values. Here's a table listing them:

Wong Halves Card Point Values

   2       3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10        A

+0.5   +1       +1      +1.5      +1      +0.5          0       -0.5         -1         -1

It's those half values that make Wong Halves so unique, and so difficult. With six different values to memorize, Wong Halves gives even skilled players a run for their money. But once mastered, it can lead to serious advantages. Let's take a look at an example running count using these values:

  • 1st card is a 10, so the running count is -1.
  • 2nd card is a 4, so the running count becomes 0.
  • 3rd card is a 2, so the running count is now +0.5.
  • 4th card is a 5, making the running count +2.

Why the Wong Halves System is Difficult to Use

Seems easy enough at first, but that's only four cards. Adding fractions in your head can be difficult enough, but tack on the distractions of a loud casino and the speed of a blackjack game and it becomes a test of strength and will.

Wong Halves is also a balanced system, meaning the count returns to 0 after an entire deck has been counted. Because of this, however, players must convert their running counts into a true count during multi-deck games to get the most out of Wong Halves. True counts are calculated by dividing the running count by the estimated number of decks left to be dealt. So, for instance, with a running count of +6 in a 4-deck game, with 2 decks left in the shoe, the true count comes out to +4.

A few people alter the point scheme of Wong Halves by doubling all the values, thereby eliminating the fractions in play and making the method a little easier to wield at a blackjack table. Even with this trick, Wong Halves remains a complex piece of blackjack strategy. Beginners should work at mastering a less difficult system first, but in the hands of a skilled player the Wong Halves method of card counting can be incredibly lucrative.

Books about Wong Halves

The best book to track down if you're looking to learn Wong Halves is Professional Blackjack, by Stanford Wong.