How to Count Cards Using the Hi-Lo Method

This article will teach you how to count cards using the Hi-Lo Method. The reason the player who can properly count cards is feared by the Casino is simple. It puts the odds in the player’s favor. The house edge in the game is destroyed when the shoe is rich in face cards. The odds for the rest of the shoe will remain with the player to win more bets than the dealer due to the fact that he can wave off hitting a card on a likely to bust hand. The dealer must hit any hand lower than a soft 17 (Ace and a six). A rich shoe in face cards means the dealer has a higher chance of busting their hand.

The idea behind card counting is to count the shoe down by keeping track of the cards as the dealer shows them. You know how many face cards are in a six-deck shoe and how many cards are under six not counting the aces. When few low cards remain and the majority of the cards in the shoe are high cards, the shoe favors the player. When this situation is present, the player raises the size of his bets. The easiest and most popular method of card counting is the Hi-Lo method which will be described here.

First, you must know the point values to assign to each card. Memorize these or you will never be able to successfuly implement this strategy.

Low Cards: Two, Three, Four, Five and Six cards are valued at +1. Low cards are helpful to the dealer who keeps drawing while the value of his hand is under 17. Low cards give the dealer a higher chance of beating your hand and a less likely chance to bust.

High Cards: Ten, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace are valued at minus (-) 1. You want the deck to have more high cards remaining near the end of the shoe. This is because they make the dealer more likely to bust. It also gives you a higher chance of getting dealt 17 or higher on your first two cards, including blackjack.

Neutral Cards: Seven, Eight and Nine have no value, or zero (0). The purpose of this is to balance the system. It allows there to be an equal number of high cards and low cards so the final count of an entire shoe equals zero. 

Now for the process of counting. When you have the counting values of each card down, you will now start to keept the “running count“. The running count is the process of adding and subtracting the values of each card as they are dealt. For example, if the first five cards that come out of the deck are Jack, 7, 3, King, Ace, the running count would be minus (-) two. (J=minus 1, 7=0, 3=+1, King=minus1, Ace=minus1). This may seem easy or difficult to you, but either way, practice makes perfect. The more you practice keeping the running count, the better you will get. The purpose of this site is to help you get better and this is why we provide the unique Card Counting Trainer for your use. Use it as often as you like to get better at keeping the running count.

The running count, however, is not the final step in the Hi-Lo method. You must also learn to convert the running count into the “true count” of the shoe. The true count gives you a better determination of whether the shoe gives you the advantage. The way to determine the true count of the shoe is to divide the running count by the remaining cards left in the shoe. Casinos offer games ranging from a single deck of cards to eight decks of cards, so you will have to know how many decks are in the game you are playing. You will then also have to be able to estimate how many cards or decks are left in the shoe. The way to estimate this is to look at the amount of cards in the discard tray by the dealer. Let’s say you are playing a standard six deck shoe, your running count is at 9, and you see about three decks in the discard tray. Take your running count of 9, divide it by the remaining amount of decks 3 (6 deck shoe minus 3 discarded decks = 3 remaining decks) and you get a true count of 3. to be more accurate, you can estimate to the nearest half deck of cards remaining.

The last step is applying your card counting skills to your betting. You gain your advantage against the Casino by betting larger when the count is positive and betting smaller or the minimum when it is negative. The true count determines the size of your bet. What you will do is value each bet as a unit based on the size of your minimum bet. If you are playing a $25 table, one unit is $25. You will increase the amount of units based on the true count. Follow the table below for playing at a standard 6 deck table. 

True Count                                         Units to Bet

0 or less                                                        1

+1                                                                  2

+2                                                                  4

+3                                                                  8

+4                                                                  10

+5 or greater                                                12

Now you know the basics of card counting using the Hi-Lo method! As stated earlier, practice makes perfect. Please utilize our unique Card Counting Trainer to help you get better and better at keeping the running count. You can also visit some of our recommended online casinos to test your counting skills while wagering real money. While online casinos do not keep a true shoe and the card counting will not give you an advantage, it will still help you get ready for the live casinos by including all of the actions of placing bets, keeping the count, and knowing when you would increase your bet.

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