Counting cards ain’t illegal, but you might get your butt kicked if you’re caught. Don’t let that stop you from trying! In this episode Brian shows us a card counting method you can do on the sly. All it takes is some basic math and a little concentration, and you can WIN with advantage play. Watch and learn!
The Hi-Lo Method
The Hi-Lo Count is the most widely written about, and in my judgment, the most commonly used card counting strategy. The High-Low was first introduced in 1963 by Harvey Dubner1. It has since been discussed by just about all the major blackjack writers. In my opinion, the best introductory treatment is in Professional Blackjack by Stanford Wong, and the most detailed coverage is in Blackjack Attack by Don Schlesinger.
How it Works
Following is a brief explanation of how to use the Hi-Lo.
Step 1: Assign a point value to each rank, as follows.
High-Low Point Values
Step 2: Start with a “Running Count” of zero at the start of the deck/shoe. As cards are revealed, keep adding or subtracting from the Running Count, according to the point system in step 1. For example, if the first ten cards to come out of the shoe were 3, 5, K, 7, Q, A, 8, 5, 4, 2, then the running count would be 1 +1 -1 +0 -1 -1 +0 +1 +1 +1 = +2.
Step 3: Divide the running count by the number of decks remaining, to get what is known as the “True Count.” This is the part that beginning counters hate. You don?t need to be exact. A rough estimate will do, in my opinion. Let’s look at example. The running count is +7 and there are about 4 decks left. The true count would be 7/4 = 1.75. Round that up to 2, to keep it simple. The more you play the more you will be comfortable eyeballing this adjustment, without doing any real division in your head. Usually the right play is obvious. In borderline cases only will you need to do this True Count conversion.
Step 4: The greater the true count, the more you should bet. This is where card counting becomes more art than science. Some blackjack books give rigid rules on how this should be done. However, the casino managers have read these books too, and the patterns recommended in earlier books now set off red flags. How you do this should depend on your own style, and how much heat you are getting. It helps avoid heat to keep the ratio of maximum bet to minimum bet to a limit, known as the ?Bet Spread.? Only increasing bets after a win, only decreasing after a loss, and staying the same after a push, makes play look more natural, but at a cost to profitability.
Step 5: For some hands, you will play according to the True Count and a table of “Index Numbers,” rather than basic strategy. The greater the count, the more inclined you will be to stand, double, split, take insurance, and surrender. For example, the Index Number for a player 15 against a dealer 10 is +4. This means the player should stand if the True Count is +4 or higher, otherwise hit.
The following tables are known as the “Illustrious 18” and “Fab 4” respectively.2 They appear in Blackjack Attack by Don Schlesinger, and are republished here with permission. These are the most important index numbers to remember. Knowing only these will give the counter 80% to 85% of the value of knowing every index number, based on a six-deck game. The difference is more in single and double-deck games. The lists are given in order of value. If you can?t memorize all of them, start at the top, and work your way down.