Card counting is an advanced strategy that uses mathematics to determine whether a hand is advantageous to the player or dealer and when to place lower or higher bets. This is done by tracking the number of small and large cards used and the remaining ones in the deck. Successfully applying card counting can decrease the house edge by up to 1%.
The Hi-Lo card counting technique gives a value of -1, 0, or 1 per card dealt face up. The term “tag” is often used in card counting circles to refer to any value assigned to cards using this technique. Hi-Lo is a common alternative to detailed counting of each card, requiring an incredible command of memory and arithmetic skills. Instead, it is based on approximations.
In the Hi-Lo card counting system, cards with ranks 2 through 6 are assigned a tag of plus one. This indicates their removal from the deck is advantageous to the player. On the other hand, cards with ranks 7, 8, and 9 have a tag of 0, as their removal doesn’t significantly impact the game. Large cards with ranks of 10s and Aces receive a tag of minus one. This means that their removal would give an advantage to the house.
Card counters use these tags to calculate the “running count” of the deck. They add or subtract tags whenever a small or large card is removed. By doing so, they can determine the deck’s favorability towards the player or the house at any given time. This allows them to modify their betting strategy accordingly.
While using a card counting strategy in multiple-deck games is not impossible, it is more complicated. Start by calculating the running count as you would in a single-deck game. Then, normalize the running count by dividing it by the total number of unplayed decks of cards to account for multiple decks. This sum gives you the “true count,” which can be used like a running count to determine if you have an advantage. Want to learn more about this strategy? Check our card counting detailed guide and find out how to card count in blackjack.