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How Hi-Lo Blackjack Card Counting Works


how hi lo blackjack card counting worksThere are several methods of card counting out there. By far, the most popular is the Hi-Lo Count (also known as the Hi-Lo system). Created by New Jersey engineer Harvey Dubner in 1963, the Hi-Lo strategy iterated on Edward Thorp’s Ten-Count card counting system and made it more accessible to the layman. This is why so many blackjack players use it.

Although the Hi-Lo strategy is the easiest card counting method out there, it still requires a good deal of practice before you master it. Primarily if you aim to play at Las Vegas tables and the like, which use six to eight decks in their shoes. If you use the strategy effectively, you may find yourself making more accurate bets in blackjack gaming sessions.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Hi-Lo card counting strategy, read on. Below we teach you how to count cards using this “balanced system.” If you want to practice using the method afterward, we have listed some online casinos with blackjack games to help you out. (Do note that card counting is not effective in online games.)

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Hi-Lo Card Counting Links

hi-lo blackjack card counting

How to Count Cards Using the Hi-Lo System

Card counting is often portrayed as this magical strategy that is only accessible to mathematical geniuses. But this is not true. Below we explain the theory behind the madness in four simple steps, and if you think about it logically, it makes a whole load of sense.

Step 1: Learn the Values Assigned to Cards

The Hi-Lo system assigns specific values to each card available in blackjack. You need to study these values as it is essential to using this strategy effectively. Here are the values:

CardValue
A-1
K-1
Q-1
J-1
10-1
90
80
70
6+1
4+1
3+1
2+1

Step 2: Start You Count

Values are assigned to cards because you are going to use tallies to make betting decisions. When you join a table, you start your “running count” at 0. As cards are dealt in each game, you either increase or decrease your count.

For example, if you are dealt a three and five and then get six on a hit, your running count would be +3.

Step 3: Determining True Count

Life would be so much simpler if casinos only used one deck of cards in blackjack games, but that would be too risky for them. So, when you card count, you need to factor in the number of decks used in a game to get an accurate indication of whether to make a bet.

The formula for calculating true count is:

hi lo true count formula

For example, if you have a Running Count of 16 and eight decks are being used in the game, the True Count is 2.

This is where many players looking to learn how to card count get put off because they think the arithmetic will be hard. But it’s not that vital to have an exact calculation. You need a general understanding of what is going on.

Step 4: Adjust Your Bets

You should adjust your bet on the figure you get for your True Count. The larger the True Count, the more you should bet. How much you bet is dependent on you. Generally, you should be setting minimum and maximum betting limits before you start playing any gambling game, so work on that.

You can use a popular betting system if that makes things easier for you. We’d stay away from negative progressive systems because they usually lead players to make bad decisions.

We’d also avoid using the patterns defined by Stanford Wong, Don Schlesinger, and Edward Thorp. Remember, if you buy a blackjack book, so can casino owners. Most of the patterns outlined by these experts have been around since the 1970s. So, casinos have studied them and know what to look for in players using them.
hi lo system explained

Should You Use the Hi-Lo System?

Overall, the Hi-Lo blackjack system isn’t flawed. There are a few more instructions involved with betting options that we have left out here (for the sake of simplicity) that makes decisions on individual hands a bit easier. But you should get better returns from practicing the strategy as we outlined it above already.

Generally, blackjack professionals don’t use the Hi-Lo card counting system. They like more specialized strategies. But this strategy should be enough to give you an edge in an average game already.

Finally, it is essential to remember two things about any form of card counting. Firstly, it is not a guaranteed winning strategy. You are still gambling when you play blackjack, no matter what system you use.

Secondly, for the best results, you need to combine card counting with basic strategy. After all, it isn’t a good idea to increase your bet on a hand, featuring a total score of six, even if you somehow have a high score. This is just common sense.

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