Card Counting is one of the ways that blackjack players remove the house edge while gambling in casinos. In fact, a card counter can manipulate the edge enough to give himself a 1-2% edge over the casino.
The Hi Lo Card Counting system is the easiest for a new blackjack card counter to learn. This is the same system used in the movie 21, which starred Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey.
In fact, if you’ve not seen 21, we recommend that you watch that movie after you’ve gained a basic understanding for card counting. The movie, not only offers a bit of dramatics, and a great back-story, it offers new card counters a live perspective on counting cards.
Hi-Lo Card Counting System
The higher cards in the deck, from 10 to ace, are good for the player, a player wants to see these cards played. The low cards in the deck are bad for the player.
In a nutshell that’s what the basic Hi Lo system is about, keeping track of how many big and little cards are left in the deck.
For instance, if the dealer must hit on 16, and we know there are plenty of big fat juicy cards left in the deck, it’s a safe bet that the dealer will bust.
If the deck is full of tiny little two-ish cards, then the dealer can draw a three, or some other small card and might even hit 21.
When the deck has plenty of 10’s in it, bet. If the big cards are all played out of the shoe, decrease your bet.
With this system, and many of the blackjack card counting systems, every card in the deck is given a value. The value will be either -1, 1 or 0.
The count begins at zero. For every Ace or ten card played, subtract 1 from the count. For every 2 through 6 that’s played, add one to the count.
7’s through 9’s are neutral cards, they do not change the count at all.
Cards 10 through Ace -1 from the count as the deck will be full of lower cards.
Practice Counting Cards
To practice counting the cards in a deck, grab a deck of cards and deal them out one by one, counting in your head as you lay each card down.
You don’t need to worry about dealing to an imaginary blackjack table, just deal the cards out one at a time, for low cards 2-6 add one to your count (Which started at zero) for cards, skip the 7’s 8’s and 9’s and subtract a point for the big cards.
If you got it right, when you run out of cards you’ll be back at zero.
Once you’re counting out an entire deck in less than a minute, you can start learning other blackjack card counting strategies, such as the KO counting method, or the Zen count.
Now that you know what the count is, just what do you do with it?
The running count is the number you’re going to use to decide whether you should hit, stand, double your bet, or where available, surrender.
Additionally, this number will give you some idea as to how much to bet. For instance, if there are a lot of high cards left in the deck, there are better odds that you will be dealt a big hand, perhaps a blackjack, or at least 20. There’s also a better chance that the dealer will bust. So this is a good spot in which to bet a decent amount of money.
There are some factors that will throw off the count however, for instance, most casinos are onto you card counters, and have therefore started using as many as six decks of cards in each blackjack game.
The cards are then cut twice, and not all of them ever reach the table. The first cut, that is made by the dealer is generally made to cut about ¼ of the cards out of the game. When the dealer reaches that a cut card that he puts into the deck at the beginning of the shoe, the decks are reshuffled before play resumes.
To keep a more accurate account in multi deck games we use the True Count here.
To get the true count, take the running count (the number you had before we started this multi-deck discussion) and divide it by the number of decks that left undealt in the shoe, the cards behind that cut card the dealer placed in the shoe.
If two decks will remain undealt, divide the running count value by 2. So if the running count is 8, the ‘true count’ is 4.
A good betting system to use with the hi-lo card counting system is the progressive system. We should also add that there’s no point in counting cards if you’re not utilizing a solid blackjack strategy.
Card Counting Online
Counting cards does not work the same way online as it does in a land based casino, however some casinos online have actually made some attempts to make card counting easier.
One of the ways they make it easier for blackjack players to count cards and utilize card counting systems is by using an RNG that works with a token penetration. Cryptologic online casinos deal two virtual decks out of 8 decks in every ‘shoe’.
Aside from casinos that use this sort of method, you can pretty much visualize a 1 deck game shuffled prior to every hand.