High/Low Blackjack Counting

The High/Low counting system is the vanilla of card counting strategies. It is extremely universal, but it doesn’t strike anyone as unique. It simply gets the job done, and as a bonus, it isn’t too difficult to put to work for you. This counting system was developed by Harvey Dubner to be a more streamlined version of Dr. Throp’s original ten-count system.

How It Works

If you are unfamiliar with card counting, here’s a quick introduction to get you up to speed. The idea behind card counting is to bet more when the deck has a lot of high-valued cards (face cards, aces, etc…) and to bet less when the deck has lots of low-valued cards. By keeping an eye on the cards that have been dealt, we can learn what cards are still in the deck.

Now we aren’t memorizing all of the cards, because that would be extremely difficult. Instead, we’re just keeping a running total in our head of high and low cards. When a low card is dealt, there is one less low card in the deck. Thus, a low card being dealt increases the average value of the deck. The opposite is true for high cards being dealt.

Starting with the mental number of zero, we add one to our count when a low card is dealt, and we subtract one when a high card is dealt. Some numbers fall in between and do not influence the count; we call these cards neutral. Here’s the breakdown:

Low Cards (+1) 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Neutral Cards (+0) 7, 8, 9
High Cards (-1) 10, J, Q, K, A

The High/Low Count In Action

In case you’re confused, let’s look at an example of the high/low count in action. The table below summarizes a set of cards being dealt, and the count that goes with them. Remember, you need to look at all of the cards on the table to get a reliable count, not just your own.

High/Low Count Example:

# Card Dealt +/- Running Count
1 5 +1 1
2 K -1 0
3 6 +1 +1
4 3 +1 +2
5 8 +0 +2
6 A -1 +1
7 3 +1 +2
8 2 +1 +3
9 J -1 +2
10 9 +0 +2
11 6 +1 +3
12 7 0 +3
13 Q -1 +2
14 10 -1 +1

The final thing to understand is how to convert your running count to a true count. The running count is what we’ve already looked at, but it has one weakness. A count is less reliable for a larger set of cards. To account for this, you just divide your running count by the number of decks remaining, and you are left with the true count. So if you have a +12 running count, but there are three decks remaining in the shoe, then your true count is +4.

So what does this count have to do with winning money? Well the count is just a guide. You need to change the size of your bets to coincide with both favorable and unfavorable counts. To start with, determine your personal minimum. This might be the table minimum, or it may be larger if you like to play for higher stakes. Refer to the table below to see how much to bet based on the count.

True Count Bet
+1 (or less) Personal Minimum
+2 or +3 2x Personal Minimum
+4 or +5 3x Personal Minimum
+6 or +7 4x Personal Minimum
+8 or More 5x Personal Minimum

If the true count is at +5, and your personal minimum is set at $10, then your bet should be worth $30. If the true count is at -5, however, you should only bet $10. This lets you get your money on the table when you're likely to win big, while protecting your bankroll when you are the most vulnerable.

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Who Should Use The High/Low Count?

The High/Low count is as easy as it gets. If you’d consider yourself a recreational player, or if you don’t want to put a lot of time into practice, this is the perfect strategy for you. It is simple, easy, effective, and it is a great way to put a little extra money in your pocket during your next Las Vegas Casino.

If you want to start making money with the high/low count to use right now, you could always try it out at an online casino. You can even practice for free at Bodog's online casino with no download necessary, just visit Bodog Casino's site.

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