The Hi-Lo card counting strategy is one of the most popular and widely used systems today and has been used since 1963 when it was created by the American mathematician and engineer Harvey Dubner who presented his findings at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in Las Vegas. Since then this strategy has been used by many blackjack players as well as written about in many blackjack books, the most popular of which are Don Schlesinger's Blackjack Attack and Stanford Wong's acclaimed Professional Blackjack. Here we will give you an explanation of how the Hi-Lo System works and provide what you need in order to be able to try it out for yourself.
The 5 Steps in Using The Hi-Lo Card Counting System
To begin with we are assuming that you know the rules of blackjack and that you have some experience of playing this popular casino table game. If not, then we strongly advise that before any attempt at card counting is done, that you spend time familiarizing yourself with all blackjack rules and gameplay.
To begin with you must assign each playing card in the deck values as follows...
- 2's through to 6's = +1
- 7's through to 9's = 0
- 10's, Picture Cards and Aces = -1
The Hi-Lo blackjack card counting system uses a running count, meaning that step 2 is to start at 0 after having taken your seat and placed your initial bet. As the dealer deals cards at the table you need to watch as to exactly what cards are being dealt from the deck, and count as according to the above chart. So for example should the first few cards be 9, 7, 2, Ace, King, your count from 0 would be 0, 0, 0 -1, -1. That initial count would give you a position of -2. It is well worth practicing this count at home, maybe playing alone or with a few friends so that you can perfect your count.
Step 3 also takes a little practice however you do not need to be 100% accurate with this, and it involves finding the true count. You will need to divide your running count by the number of decks that remain in the shoe, so let's imagine that your count is standing at +8 and there are about 4 decks left in the shoe. So, 8/4 = 2, meaning that your true count is 2. This part takes a little practice but is easily perfected, and should you have a true count of let's say 1.75 for example, then you simply round that number up to 2 to keep things as simple as possible.
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Step 4 involves the placing of your bets, and the amount that you should be wagering. When using the Hi-Lo System the basic principle is that the higher is your count, the higher should you bets be, however remember that you are in a casino setting and you should use a little intuition as long winning streaks will not go unnoticed, and dealers along with the casino pit boss are no strangers to card counters. Make sure that you keep hold of the count at all times, and don't get carried away with the wagering aspect of the system as losing the count means that the shoe is over for you. Finally step 5 simply states that you should keep using the count and placing wagers along with the count as opposed to switching from the Hi-Lo count and using basic optimal blackjack strategy. You will of course be tempted to forget the count and simply play your game at times, however the success of using this system depends on you keeping with the count, and placing your bets accordingly. Many blackjack players find that this system works well for them and can be a profitable gambling and card counting system.
In addition to the count, Don Schlesinger also added the Illustrious 18 blackjack plays that he states should be used at all times. These moves tell you when you should be sticking, splitting, taking a card and doubling and using these involves memorizing all 18 plays and index numbers. Serious Hi-Lo system blackjack players will indeed memorize this chart and use to increase their profitability when using the Hi-Lo card counting system.