Now that we have talked about what card counting is and what it is not, what it does and what it does not do, it is time to look at the starting point of actually counting cards. Today we are going to look at the most basic of card counting systems, the Hi Lo system.
The Hi Lo system is the counting system that most blackjack players start out with. It is easy to remember and the math is easy enough that those who are not inclined to the subject can still use the system.
In the Hi Lo system cards fall into one of three categories: High, Low or Neutral. Each category is assigned a counting value: -1, +1 or 0. Now we look at the how the cards are broken down:
High cards: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10 with a counting value of -1
Neutral Cards: 9, 8, 7 with a counting value of 0
Low Cards: 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 with a counting value of +1
Okay, so now that we have the counting values down, now the work comes in.
When you are card counting you are tracking the cards that have been played. This means adding up the values of the cards as they are dealt. Of everyone at the table. So say you are dealt a 10/10, your neighbor is dealt a 10/7 and the dealer has been dealt a 6 your count would look like this:
-1 + -1 + -1 + 0 + 1 = -2
The -2 outcome means that more high cards have been played, which means there are more low cards left to be played. Low cards favor the dealer, so when your count moves beyond a -3 or -4 it is time to begin reducing your wager as the odds are more in favor of the dealer.
Now if your count goes up to +3 or +4 it means that a good number low cards have been played and have passed out of the game leaving a larger number of high cards—which favor the player—still in the deck. So when your count moves that high into the positive it would be time to increase your wager. Not too drastically of course, you do not want to tip off to the casino staff that you are counting cards; while not illegal, card counting is frowned upon by casinos because how dare you find a skillful way of gaining an advantage.
But that is the most basic of card counting systems. It is a good system to start with if you are looking to get your feet wet with card counting.