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The Hi-Lo (High Low) system is one of the easier and more popular card counting systems for blackjack. The Hi-Low consists of assigning a point value of +1, 0, or -1 to every card dealt to the player. Each card is assigned a specific point value in the Hi Lo System. Aces and 10-point cards are assigned a value of -1. Cards 7, 8, 9 each count as 0. Cards 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 each count as +1.

counting cards

Tip: You should also check the following: Edge Sorting, Hole Carding, Shuffle Tracking, Wonging in Blackjack, Camouflage Betting, Team Play, Betting Spread, & Risk Of Ruin.


If player 1 is dealt a 3 and 9 (+1, 0), player 2 has a 10 and a 5 (-1, +1), player 3 has a 7 and a 2 (0, +1), and the dealer’s upcard is an Ace (-1), the running count in a single deck would be +1. That’s not too bad, right?

All a counter using the Hi-Lo System must do is add and subtract by 1 and keep a true count of the deck. Try to look at a two cards at once and figure out the combined count so you aren’t tallying every single card. Also, a good card counter will sit at 3rd base (last position to be dealt at the table) so he/she can easily see the cards being dealt. This is a very simple system but if you play it right, you can get great results.

To become a proficient card counter in blackjack when you are at the casino it is important to practice at home. Try using the Card Counting Tutor to practice in a realistic situation. You can also practice at home. Keep track of the running count using the hi-lo system. When you finish the deck, the count should be at 0. When you can get through the entire deck in 30 seconds with no problems, you have become quite proficient.

8 Response Comments

  • RobAugust 10, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    So, betting more when the count is positive means you are expecting more lower value cards to come? Less chance of getting a face card when you’re holding a hard 12, for example?

    • countingedgeAugust 11, 2016 at 3:24 pm

      Hey, Rob. Thanks for being a Counting Edge reader! Actually, you have it reversed. A high positive count means that the deck is rich in high cards and that a disproportionate number of low cards (4, 5, 6) have been played. A high positive count means that the chances are greater that a ten value card will emerge next from the shoe. As a rule, tens are good for you and bad for the dealer. The exact opposite is true with low value cards. There are more tens in the deck than any other individual card. You need those tens to make a blackjack, which is the whole point.

      Now, to address your specific reference to doubling down on a hard 12. When the count is very high, doubling a hard 12 is probably not the best strategy. The chances are greater that you will receive a ten and bust. If you are an extreme player, doubling that hard 12 when the count is very low could produce some nice payoffs, but this is a risk.

      Hope this helps!

  • EvaNovember 8, 2016 at 6:41 am

    This is what I was looking for. I am new to blackjack so I am trying to learn all things about the blackjack and I found this card counting system. Thanks for sharing this, It will help me to understand the cards counting in blackjack game.

    • countingedgeNovember 8, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      Thank you for your comment, good luck at the Blackjack Tables!

  • Kerem OnerDecember 8, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    Don’t they change the deck every hand in blackjack as they do in poker? Sorry, I am a b.j. newbie.

    • countingedgeDecember 10, 2016 at 5:19 am

      Hey, Kerem! Thanks for being a Counting Edge reader, and never apologize for being a newbie. That’s why this site is here, and we’re glad you’re taking advantage of it.

      In most forms of blackjack in a live casino, six to eight decks are used and dealt from a shoe. This requires less shuffling by the dealer. Approximately 3/4 of the combined decks will be dealt from the shoe before the cards are reshuffled. However, some blackjack games like Double Deck Pitch Blackjack in a live casino shuffle more frequently. This can even mean shuffling after each hand depending on how many players are at the table.

      In the online casino, most blackjack games start each hand with a new 52-card deck. This is because reshuffling is no problem with advanced software. It is also interesting to note that some live casinos have also began using automatic shufflers at the blacjack tables, but this is rare. The casino wants to use multiple decks in a shoe because that adds to their house edge and makes it harder for card counters.

      Keep reading and don’t hesitate to ask us anything. Good luck at the tables!

  • EMAIARIDecember 20, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    Does it matter when you start counting? I.e do you need to start counting from the beginning of the shoes use to get the true count?

    • countingedgeDecember 22, 2016 at 5:48 am

      Emaiari, thanks so much for being a Counting Edge reader! Your question is a good one. You should always begin your count with a new shoe. In fact, if you are serious about card counting, don’t sit down at a table mid-shoe unless you have been standing there looking and know what the count is. To get a true count, which involves a little calculation in regards to what percentage of the shoe remains, you need to be counting from the beginning of the shoe. If you have ever seen the popular blackjack movie 21 (https://www.countingedge.com/mit-blackjack-team/), which we recommend as a good film, you can see the importance of this in action. One member of the famous MIT blackjack team would sit at a table and play the minimum, keeping a careful count of the shoe. When the count got high, the counter would then signal the Big Player who was meandering around the blackjack pit waiting for a hot shoe. When playing alone, you have to do it all by yourself but the principle is the same. Sit down, start counting at the beginning of the shoe, and keep your bets small until the deck gets hot. Good luck at the tables and thanks for your question!


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