You saw the movie 21 which was about the MIT students who played team black in Vegas and won a fortune. They used the Hi Lo Card Counting system. The movie got you interested in card counting didn’t it?

The good news is that card counting is possible with practice. You can determine when the statistical advantage in a game of blackjack shifts from the casino to the player. The hi lo card counting system is one of the oldest, easiest balanced counting methods. Balanced means if you count through an entire deck starting a zero, you end at zero. Hi Lo is a good system to learn because is the basis for many other more complex methods. However, if a balanced system seems to difficult, and unbalanced system may be better for you.

You begin the hi lo method with a count of zero when the game begins or the decks are shuffled. Zero is the initial running count (called IRC). For each card played, you add the cards value to the count. The card values are as follows

The 2 through 6 cards have a value of +1.

Ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace cards have a value of -1

The 7 through 9 cards have a value of zero.

For example, if you start at zero, you get a pair of jacks and the dealer gets an eight and seven. You have zero minus one for each jack, and the seven and eight have no value. Thus the count is minus two.

Correctly keeping the running count while playing blackjack is the heart of any counting system.

The hi lo card counting system is a balanced system. Balanced systems must convert the running count into a true count. This is done by dividing the count by the number of decks left to be dealt. You estimate this number by estimating the number of decks discarded, and then subtracting that number from the total number of decks in play.

Estimating the number of decks in a pile of discards is skill that comes with a little practice. Eventually you’ll find you can come to a good approximation of the number of decks in a pile of cards.

The real trick is doing the estimation and the mathematical division in your head. For many people this on top of keeping the count becomes overwhelming. If you find yourself struggling with the division piece, try an unbalanced system like the Red Seven method. Unbalanced systems only require that you keep the count, and you don’t have to do any division.

Again, the hi lo card counting system is based on knowing when the statistical advantage changes to the player. When the count reaches certain values, the advantage changes. These points are different depending on the number of deck used. Here are the points.

count is zero or less; wager one unit for 2 decks; one unit for 6 decks

count is +1; wager 2 units for 2 decks; 2 units for 6 decks

count is +2; wager 3 units for 2 decks; 4 units for 6 decks

count is +3; wager 4 units for 2 decks; 8 units for 6 decks

count is +4; wager 5 units for 2 decks; 10 units for 6 decks

count is +% or more; wager 6 units for 2 decks; 12 units for 6 decks

A unit is the table minimum bet. You play the minimum while the casino has the advantage. The wager increases as the count goes higher. You are betting more when you have a larger edge.

Would you like to learn the hi lo card counting method while play right now, for free? The free blackjack game at card-counting-blackjack.com is completely free to play. While you play, the computer teaches you how to count cards. Plus, the computer also shows you how to play basic strategy. Visit card-counting-blackjack.com to play blackjack and learn card counting.

Vincent Clark

Learn more about hi lo card counting.

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