Hi-Lo counting method

Important Notes:

  • Basic Strategy is Your Foundation: Perfect basic strategy is always the starting point. True count adjustments come as slight deviations for specific hands and situations.
  • System-Specific: Different card counting systems (Hi-Lo, KO, etc.) have their own specific charts for when to change your play based on the count. It’s vital to find a reliable chart for your chosen system.
  • Not All Decisions Change: Many basic strategy plays remain the correct choice irrespective of the count. True count adjustments tend to influence specific doubling, splitting, and surrender situations.

Important Notes:

  • Basic Strategy is Your Foundation: Perfect basic strategy is always the starting point. True count adjustments come as slight deviations for specific hands and situations.
  • System-Specific: Different card counting systems (Hi-Lo, KO, etc.) have their own specific charts for when to change your play based on the count. It’s vital to find a reliable chart for your chosen system.
  • Not All Decisions Change: Many basic strategy plays remain the correct choice irrespective of the count. True count adjustments tend to influence specific doubling, splitting, and surrender situations.

General Principles

  • Positive Counts: As the true count gets more positive, here’s what you’ll generally see:
    • Double Down More: Especially hands like 8, 9, 10, and 11 vs. dealer low cards (2-6). Some systems might even call for doubling soft hands (e.g., Ace-8) in high counts.
    • Split More Liberally: Especially when the true count is very high, certain borderline splitting situations (like splitting 8s against dealer 10) become correct.
    • Insurance Changes: Generally, taking insurance becomes even less favorable when the count is positive.
    • Surrender Adjustments: Some late surrender decisions that are normally incorrect become the right play with very high counts.
  • Negative Counts: When the count is significantly negative, you might:
    • Stand More: On some marginal hands you might normally hit (like 12 vs. dealer 4), a negative count might make standing correct.
    • Double and Split Less Often: Borderline double downs or splits become less frequent.
    • Insurance… Still No: If anything, negative counts increase the odds of the dealer having a blackjack, making insurance an even worse bet.

Example Using Hi-Lo

Let’s say you’re playing a 6-deck shoe:

  • True Count +4 or higher: Consider doubling down on soft hands against weak dealer upcards, splitting pairs you wouldn’t normally, and making situationally correct late surrenders.
  • True Count -2 or lower: You likely want to avoid many marginal double downs and splits that basic strategy might typically recommend.

Finding the Charts

Resources to find reliable charts based on your card counting system are essential. Books dedicated to card counting or trusted online resources usually provide these charts alongside their explanations of the system.

Caution: Perfect implementation is key! Incorrectly applying a chart will do more harm than good. Practice is needed to ensure these ‘count-deviations’ become second nature.

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