Learn the Most Popular Card Counting System - Hi-Lo
Learn how to count cards in minutes. Mr Blackjack runs through the Hi-Lo system, the easiest and most popular card counting strategy.
Hollywood films always show card counting as this super complicated mathematical equation. In reality, there are multiple card counting systems to choose from, and they vary in complexity and accuracy.
The most popular card counting system is called the Hi-Lo count. You assign a value of - 1 to each card that is good for you when it comes out, and + 1 for the cards that are bad for you when they are played.
Cards that are 'good' for the player are: 10, J, Q, K, A.
These cards are good for you, so you want them to stay in the deck.
And cards that are bad for the player are: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
These cards are bad for you, so you want them to come out.
Some cards do not affect the player's advantage. These get a value of 0 and are: 7, 8, 9
So based on these values, every time we see a card being played that would have been good for the player, we count -1. That's because it's no longer in the deck. So, if we see 10, J, Q, K, A we count -1.
Every time we see a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 played, we remember these are bad cards for the player, so we want them to be played. Therefore we add +1 to our count.
Should any 7, 8, 9 cards come out, you don’t count them as they have a value of 0.
A shoe rich in 10s and Aces is a good deck for the player. This is when you will increase your bet based on the number of 10s remaining.
To accurately assess your betting size you need to look at the running count and then divide that number with the number of decks remaining. This will give you the true count and you should vary your bet based on the true count.
Should the true count remain at +8, it's time to raise your bet. The true count will fluctuate immensely the closer you get to the end of the shoe, given that fewer decks are remaining and the closer your running count will be to the true count. We cover betting in the next season.
There are other systems, like the Omega II and Wong Halves, but these systems are for advanced players only. Master Hi-Lo first, and then you can progress to these systems later.
What this lesson covers
- The easiest card counting system
- How Hi-Lo counting works
- How to adjust your bets with the Hi-Lo system
Meet Mr Blackjack
With a career spanning two decades, Mathieu Blake knows his way around a blackjack table. He's taught and entertained over 100,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel NeverSplit10's . In this series he'll take you through basic strategy, card counting, and bankroll management. Take a seat with Mr Blackjack and become a winning player.
Want to learn more about Blackjack?
- What is Hi-Lo card counting?
Hi-Lo is a card counting system that assigns values to cards in the shoe depending on whether they help or hinder the player’s advantage. As you calculate the total value of cards played in the game, the system gives you an indication of what cards are remaining. The higher the value, the better the player’s advantage.
- Is Hi-Lo the best card counting system?
Hi-Lo is the easiest to learn and perfect, but there are more accurate counting systems. Omega II, Wong Halves, and Thorp Ultimate are more accurate, but they are also complicated and harder to perfect. Card counting is only good when the player deploys it accurately, and for many, the harder systems are above their ability.
- Can you count cards in online blackjack?
The gameplay and objective in online blackjack are the same as playing 21 in brick-and-mortar casinos. This means you can count cards in online blackjack games.
- Is a high count good or bad for players?
A high count is good for players, because it means the shoe is rich in high-value cards like 10s and Aces.
- What is a rich shoe in blackjack?
When players say a shoe is ‘rich’ in blackjack, they mean it is filled with high-value cards. This gives you a better chance of maximizing your advantage in the game with splits and doubling down.
- How can I practice Hi-Lo card counting?
You can practice card counting using our Free Blackjack arcade. Alternatively, there are blackjack apps that specially tailor exercises for card counting and basic strategy practice.
- Are there any moments in blackjack when Hi-Lo counting won’t work?
Casinos try to beat card counters through several means. The most popular method is using an automatic shuffler machine halfway through the shoe. This prevents you from fully capitalizing on your advantage in the game. There are also blackjack deviations, when the cards left in the shoe require you to go against basic strategy best practices.