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High/Low Card Counting System for Blackjack

The high/low card counting system is the most popular and basic method of counting cards. There are many variations that are far more complex, including assigning fractional values to the cards instead of integers, but this is pretty tough for beginners.

In all reality the player will never achieve the desired results without first learning the simple level one counting techniques. The high/low card counting system is the first thing you should be learning.

All cards are:

  • -1 : face cards, Ace. There are 20 of these in a deck.
  • 0 : 7, 8, 9. There are 12 of these in a deck.
  • 1 : 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. There are 16 of these in a deck.

Balanced system

Added all up, it comes out to zero. This is called a "balanced" system. When you count, as you do in any system, you add the point value in your head every time a card gets played from the deck. so you need to count every card by every player and the dealer. The dealer is going to be fast, and you have to learn how to count fast to keep up.

Learning to count

Before you start learning fancy systems, learn the high/low card counting system and train your brain to count. There is no easy way to do it. Like learning to play basketball, or play a musical instrument, hours and days and weeks of repetition is the only way to get good.

Get a deck of cards and carry them with you. Shuffle them, cut them, and set them face down on the table. Start a stop watch and time yourself. Flip them over as fast as you can and keep a count, using the values in the high/low card counting system. Every deck should balance out to zero. If it doesn't, keep practicing.

Once you can break 25 to 30 seconds, you are ready to go to a table. It still won't be easy.

Playing the high/low card counting system in a casino

Here's the big test. It's time to use what you learned. If you can win with the high/low card counting system, then its time to start over with an even more accurate one, a tougher one.

Start playing. Unless you came in at a shuffle, forget about the high/low card counting system. Just make flat bets until they do shuffle, and your starting count is at zero.

Start counting. As the count gets higher, it means more face cards and aces are in the deck, and if it gets lower, it means less of them are there.

If your count is:

  • Less than +1: bet flat
  • +2 to +3: double your bet
  • +4 to +5: triple your bet
  • +6 to +7: quadruple your bet
  • +8 or more: quintuple your bet

If you manage to stick to this basic system, you will have eliminated house edge, and should have an overall good set of blackjack series. If you can manage to count accurately, and bet correctly (without getting caught) then you can move on to more complex systems which offer even more advantage.

But first, you must walk before you can fly.

Sam Marshall - Editorial Staff