Hi Lo Count

So, you’ve heard that card counting can give you an advantage when playing Blackjack, whether you’re playing it online at a casino site, or in person at a brick and mortar gambling establishment. Certainly, card counting is more of a strategy than it is a method of cheating, particularly if you’re doing it in your head.

If you’ve never counted cards before, you need to work on mastering a strategy, because there are many different methods of card counting, each with its own quirks, advantages and disadvantages. One of the more common approaches for a first time card counter is a strategy known as the Hi Lo Count.

The Basic Theory

You need to understand that no card counting system is a guarantee of winning – the game simply doesn’t work that way. What it is, is a decent strategy for being able to pre-empt when it would be a good time to start making larger bets.

This is achieved by watching every card that gets dealt, and memorising it, so that you can build up an impression of what might be left. From this, you can tell if it’s time to start making bigger bets (plenty of high cards left) or smaller bets (only dross left).

However, it’s not everyone who has the savant-like ability to memorise the faces of the cards that have been dealt, so various systems have developed to make counting easier. One of the best starter systems is Hi Lo Count.

The Hi Lo Count Method

Very few people have the innate ability to memorise an entire pack of 52 cards in terms of what has and what hasn’t been dealt. But the point of card counting is to identify when the deck is “primed” – when the time is right to bet high.

The Hi Lo Count is one method designed to identify just this. It works by requiring you not to remember specifically what has been dealt, but to either add or subtract 1 from a running total, depending on the card.

Your running total gives you an indicator of when the deck is “primed.”

Hi Lo in Practise

Here’s how this works at a real casino. There are 52 cards in a deck. When a new shoe is added to the table, start counting from 0. When the dealer deals hands, look at their hand, your hand, and the hands around you, and perform the following arithmetic.

Now, because it would be too difficult to assign each individual card its own unique number, we do them in groups. If a card’s face value is 2-6 we add 1 to our running total. If it’s 7-9, we do nothing. And if it’s a face card or a 10, we subtract one.

Now, the important thing here is the value of the running total. The closer it is to zero at any given point, the higher the possibility that the next card off the shoe will be a high one, and this becomes increasingly true the further into the deck you get.

For some great entertainment on card counting, why not check out the film 21 which goes into detail on the process.