Counting cards is an advanced blackjack strategy that involves tracking the ratio of high-value cards to low-value cards in the deck. One popular card counting system is the Hi-Lo system, which assigns point values to cards and keeps a running count throughout the game. This article will explain the basics of the Hi-Lo system and how to use it to improve your chances of winning at blackjack.
The Hi-Lo System Explained
In the Hi-Lo system, cards are assigned the following point values:
- 2-6 = +1
- 7-9 = 0
- 10-Ace = -1
The goal is to maintain a running count as cards are dealt, adding or subtracting the corresponding point values based on the cards that appear. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to count cards using the Hi-Lo system:
- Start with a count of 0: At the beginning of a new shoe or deck, start your count at 0.
- Assign point values: As each card is dealt, assign the appropriate point value to the card (as outlined above) and adjust your running count accordingly.
- Continue the count across hands: When a hand is completed, do not reset your count. Instead, carry your running count over to the next hand. For example, if your count was +2 at the end of the first hand, start the second hand with a count of +2.
- Monitor the count: A positive running count indicates that there are more high-value cards (10s, face cards, and Aces) remaining in the deck, which favors the player. Conversely, a negative running count means there are more low-value cards left in the deck, favoring the dealer.
- Adjust your bets: As the running count increases, consider raising your bets to capitalize on the favorable situation. Conversely, lower your bets when the count is negative or close to zero.
- Maintain a natural appearance: To avoid drawing attention to your card counting efforts, try to maintain a natural appearance at the table. Make small talk, avoid focusing too intently on the cards, and vary your betting patterns to blend in with the other players.
- Account for the true count (optional): To account for multiple decks, you can convert the running count to a “true count” by dividing the running count by the approximate number of decks remaining in the shoe. This adjustment can provide a more accurate representation of the remaining high and low-value cards.
The Hi-Lo system is a straightforward card counting method that can help you gain an edge in blackjack. By keeping track of the running count and adjusting your bets accordingly, you can improve your chances of winning. However, keep in mind that card counting is not a guarantee of success and requires practice, discipline, and a keen understanding of the game. Additionally, be aware that casinos may ask card counters to leave the premises if they are caught. Always practice responsible and ethical gameplay.