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Hi-Lo System for Blackjack Players

Hi-Lo system is used by gamblers to exercise card counting process. Also you may find this technique by the names: High/Low system and Plus/Minus system. This counting method was created by Harvey Dubner who simplified the Ten-Count system (by Edward Thorp authorship) for players. He was aiming to make the Hi-Lo system easier to use for beginners and intermediate gamblers actually.
Hi-Lo system is highly recommended as a starting point of card counting subject study. You may easily understand the basic mechanics of blackjack counting systems in whole after this article consideration.
In fact, Hi-Lo system is learned well and preferred by absolute majority of blackjack players.

Hi-Lo System Mechanics

Hi-Lo card counting method is a simple set of add/subtract procedures. You don't have to be a Harvard math guru to master this system and put it into practice. Study the following principles and be confident at the playing table - that's all what you need.
Let's consider the next scheme:






+1 count






0 count






-1 count

Now let's interpret the data given in the cells. We can observe 3 groups of card values:

  • Small cards 2-6 (20 in toto) involve +1 count when they are played;
  • Middle cards 7-9 (12 in toto) involve 0 count which is neutral and do not influence a count;
  • Big cards 10-A (20 in toto) involve -1 count when they are played.

Let's pass on to visual example of card count procedures while tournament blackjack playing.
Imagine you play against 3 fellow gamblers and one of them plays a role of a dealer. So the story is the following:


Player who is on your right distributes cards:

  • Ace + 7 for you;
  • 3 + 10 for Mr. Brown;
  • King + 5 for Mr. White;
  • Jack as a face-up card for himself.

You start you count in the following way:

  • Provide a count of your own cards first: Ace + 7 → -1 and 0 count;
  • The Mr. Brown's: 3 + 10 → +1 and -1 count;
  • Mr. White's: King + 5 → -1 and +1 count;
  • And finally the dealer's card: Jack → -1 count.

You have negative count -2 in toto.
The game proceeds and new cards enter a game. And you continue the count process as well. After a first round played all enabled cards enter a discard pile and you still keep in mind their traces = values count. Say, after 1st round count you still have -2 count. This count is negative and thus:

  • More big cards are discarded;
  • More small cards stay in the deck.

Both these fact are unfavorable for player chances no doubt (that's why this count is negative actually).
And finally, it's not out of place to mention that Hi-Lo system (and other CCS too) work in life gaming only. Virtual blackjack features a method of cards re-shuffle after each round played and thus cancel out all card counting tries.

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