Introduction to Hi/Lo Card Counting

Card counting is an important skill to learn if you want to really become a blackjack virtuoso. You don't really have to start with really complex card counting systems. Players can start with an easy card counting system before trying more complex systems. One example of a really easy card counting system is called Hi/Lo. We'll go through with the basics of Hi/Lo so we can begin learning this method of card counting.

If we use the Hi/Lo card counting system we will then be assigning different points to the different cards we see dealt on the table. The very first step in this card counting system is to memorize the points you assign to each card in a deck. The following are the values we'll assign each card in our deck.

In Hi/Lo card counting we will assign a value of +1 to cards from two to six. Cards seven, eight, and nine are assigned a value of zero; cards ten, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace will be assigned a value of -1. It will only take a minute to memorize these values. Be sure to have them memorized before proceeding.

One interesting thing you might notice is that when you put together all the values of a single deck adding +1 or -1 or 0 to your tally you'll eventually get a sum of zero. This characteristic is called a balanced count and is one category of card counting systems. Another characteristic you'll come to understand as you learn more complex card counting systems is the fact that Hi/Lo only assigns the values 0 or 1 (plus or minus), which is classified under single-level card counting systems.

Here's why the smaller numbers are given a +1 value and the bigger numbers a -1 value. In Hi/Lo card counting, cards from two to six will be more useful for the dealer. The dealer will definitely need these cards when managing stiff hands (i.e. hands that add up from 12 to 16). A good example would be that if a dealer's hand ranges between 12 to 16 getting a five would mean the dealer will get a hand within the range of 17 to 21 - very good hands.

On the contrary, an Ace or any of the ten-value cards, which include the picture cards, will be more useful to the players. An Ace is necessary to make a blackjack to instantly win a hand. The cards we assigned a zero value are classified as neutral cards in this card counting system. In Hi/Lo you will be tallying in your mind how many low value cards and how many high value cards have been dealt starting your tally from zero.

When you see a low card dealt you add +1 to your tally, if a high card is dealt then you do a -1. If your tally drops to a negative along the way it means that the deck now has more low value cards and is advantageous to the dealer. The opposite will mean that the deck is more advantageous for the players.

These are the basics of Hi/Lo card counting. It as you become familiar with the system other card counting systems will become easier to learn.