# Hi-Lo card counting system in blackjack

Blackjack is a renowned table game, easy to play, and appeals to players with different levels of experience. Winning requires skills and strategy, giving the game some anticipation and fun. With every turn of cards, players can increase their winning chances by using various blackjack strategies. One of the common strategies is card counting. It enables players to have an idea of the composition of the remaining cards to be dealt; hence the player can make a better decision and minimize losses. This article outlines basics of card counting that every blackjack player should know.

Hi-Lo system

Hi-Lo system is straightforward and a popular card counting strategy. Keeping a tally of the revealed cards determines whether the next hand will favor the player or dealer. The strategy classifies the cards into three classes. High-value cards which benefit the player more than the dealer are 10, J, Q, K, and A, while low-value cards which are more advantageous to the dealer are 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. The remaining cards-7, 8, and 9 are essentially neutral.

Card counters, also known as advantage players, use card counting to adjust their bets and gain an advantage over the casino. Card counters assign a specific value to every card to enable them to do some quick arithmetic to know when the undealt cards have a higher concentration of high-value cards, which favors the player, or low-value cards favoring the dealer. The high-value cards are assigned a -1 value because the player’s advantage decreases with a decrease in the number of undealt high-value cards. The low-value cards are assigned a +1 value, while 7, 8, and 9 are given a 0.

How it works

The Hi-Lo system requires the card counter to add the assigned values of each card dealt arithmetically. This is called the ‘running count’ and starts at 0. As the players make moves in the game, the card counter should keep the running count by adding 1, 0, or subtracting 1, depending on the card’s value. If the casino uses more than one deck of cards, the card counter should use the ‘true count.’ The true count lets the player know their advantage at any point in a multi-deck blackjack game. The player first gets the running count and then divides it by the number of remaining decks.

After a given round, when the count is positive, the undealt cards have more high-value cards; therefore, the player should bet more since they have a higher chance of getting a good card and winning. When the count is negative, the undealt cards are richer in low-value cards; hence the player should bet less to minimize losses.

Final thoughts

To be a successful blackjack player, it is advisable first to practice and perfect the Hi-Lo system, the primary card counting strategy, before moving on to other more advanced systems such as the Omega II Hi-Opt I and II systems and Wong Halves system.

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