When Counting Cards When Do You Bet

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  • You have the option to practice card counting using the six-deck mode as well, which you should do if you are planning to play and count in a six-deck game. As your accuracy improves, begin to cancel a high card (minus-one) with a low card (plus-one) in each round so that only the remaining cards are counted and added to your running count.
  • Counting cards is simple, but can take time to master. We’ve won millions from casinos through the craft of card counting. We can walk you through how to count cards in blackjack in just a few easy steps Most people think card counting has to do with memorization.

First you need to memorize the assigned values of all cards. High cards (10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace) count as -1 each; Low cards (2 to 6) count as +1 each; The remaining cards (7 to 9) count as 0. The more you play the more you will be comfortable eyeballing this adjustment, without doing any real division in your head. Usually the right play is obvious. In borderline cases only will you need to do this True Count conversion. Step 4: The greater the true count, the more you should bet. This is where card counting becomes more art than.

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NOTE: If you’re running IE9 and the game keeps crashing, you need to update your Java installation (for it has nothing to do with us but with Microsoft, as they kindly note in their Support Page). Speaking of upgrades, you might want to upgrade your browser to Google Chrome.

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Paytable is neatly set on the right side of the screen and is quite self-explanatory.

On the bottom of the screen is a control strip that lets you set up all parameters of the game and provides for all relevant information. There is a balance field, chips and wager info, control buttons, and win amount.

Start your game..

..by making the ante bet with chips in denominations ranging from $5, $25, $100, and $500. You’ll notice yellow borders encircling them when selected. You can increase ante in each value by a single click —for $200 bet, click twice on ante field with $100 chip selected. The maximum ante is $1,000.

Two buttons — Deal and Clear — are used to direct game moves once you’ve set your ante.

When the five cards are dealt, you’ll get two of them with face up and three with face down. Your control buttons will be replaced by four optional ones: Fold, Bet 1x, Bet 2x, and Bet 3x.

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When the hand ends

There will be two temporary control buttons displayed: Repeat and Clear. By pressing the former you reload previous bet settings, while by pressing the later you put yourself in the position to set a new bet.

Once the hand is dealt you can see information about the outcome right below your wagers. In case of a win, you get the info that correlates to items on the Pay Table.

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The game itself may show its volatile side on larger bets. It is quite enticing to win a large sum, particularly when betting on $500 and going all the way up to the 5th street, although, admittingly, it is much more fun to do so knowing that none of it would be applicable to real life scenario.

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Regardless of your skills level, always approach your games in a responsible and safe manner so you can have great fun while you’re at it. On our behalf, we wish you very best of luck in doing so.

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The Hi-Lo Count is the most widely written about, and in my judgment, the most commonly used card counting strategy. The High-Low was first introduced in 1963 by Harvey Dubner1. It has since been discussed by just about all the major blackjack writers. In my opinion, the best introductory treatment is in Professional Blackjack by Stanford Wong, and the most detailed coverage is in Blackjack Attack by Don Schlesinger.

How it Works

Following is a brief explanation of how to use the Hi-Lo.

Step 1: Assign a point value to each rank, as follows.

High-Low Point Values

Step 2: Start with a 'Running Count' of zero at the start of the deck/shoe. As cards are revealed, keep adding or subtracting from the Running Count, according to the point system in step 1. For example, if the first ten cards to come out of the shoe were 3, 5, K, 7, Q, A, 8, 5, 4, 2, then the running count would be 1 +1 -1 +0 -1 -1 +0 +1 +1 +1 = +2.

Step 3: Divide the running count by the number of decks remaining, to get what is known as the 'True Count.' This is the part that beginning counters hate. You don?t need to be exact. A rough estimate will do, in my opinion. Let's look at example. The running count is +7 and there are about 4 decks left. The true count would be 7/4 = 1.75. Round that up to 2, to keep it simple. The more you play the more you will be comfortable eyeballing this adjustment, without doing any real division in your head. Usually the right play is obvious. In borderline cases only will you need to do this True Count conversion.

Step 4: The greater the true count, the more you should bet. This is where card counting becomes more art than science. Some blackjack books give rigid rules on how this should be done. However, the casino managers have read these books too, and the patterns recommended in earlier books now set off red flags. How you do this should depend on your own style, and how much heat you are getting. It helps avoid heat to keep the ratio of maximum bet to minimum bet to a limit, known as the ?Bet Spread.? Only increasing bets after a win, only decreasing after a loss, and staying the same after a push, makes play look more natural, but at a cost to profitability.

Step 5: For some hands, you will play according to the True Count and a table of 'Index Numbers,' rather than basic strategy. The greater the count, the more inclined you will be to stand, double, split, take insurance, and surrender. For example, the Index Number for a player 15 against a dealer 10 is +4. This means the player should stand if the True Count is +4 or higher, otherwise hit.

The following tables are known as the 'Illustrious 18' and 'Fab 4' respectively.2 They appear in Blackjack Attack by Don Schlesinger, and are republished here with permission. These are the most important index numbers to remember. Knowing only these will give the counter 80% to 85% of the value of knowing every index number, based on a six-deck game. The difference is more in single and double-deck games. The lists are given in order of value. If you can?t memorize all of them, start at the top, and work your way down.

Illustrious 18

When Counting Cards When Do You Bet Big

216 Vs. 10+0
315 Vs. 10+4
410,10 Vs. 5+5
510,10 Vs. 6+4
610 Vs. 10+4
712 Vs. 3+2
812 Vs. 2+3
911 Vs. A+1
109 Vs. 2+1
1110 Vs. A+4
129 Vs. 7+3
1316 Vs. 9+5
1413 Vs. 2-1
1512 Vs. 40
1612 Vs. 5-2
1712 Vs. 6-1
1813 Vs. 3-2

The player should stand/double/split if the True Count equals or exceeds the Index Number, otherwise hit. The player should take insurance if the True Count is +3 or greater.

Fab 4 Surrenders

When Counting Cards When Do You Betray

114 Vs. 10+3
215 Vs. 10+0
315 Vs. 9+2
415 Vs. A+1

The player should surrender if the True Count equals or exceeds the Index Number.

A full table of all index numbers can be found in Chapter 3, and Appendix A, of Professional Blackjack by Stanford Wong.

The next table shows some statistics using the High-Low. The blackjack rules this table is based are liberal Vegas shoe, as follows:

Six decks
Dealer stands on soft 17
Surrender allowed
Double after split allowed
Player may resplit to four hands, including aces

To avoid setting off red flags, the simulation increased the bet after a win only, decreased after a loss only, and always stayed the same after a push, except resetting to a minimum bet after a shuffle. Leo vegas 120 free spins. The simulation rounded the remaining decks to the nearest half deck, otherwise playing perfectly.

High-Low Statistics

1 to 54I18+F40.157%1.501.35
1 to 104I18+F40.368%2.041.57
1 to 154I18+F40.578%2.671.73
1 to 54.5I18+F40.300%1.601.41
1 to 104.5I18+F40.587%2.271.68
1 to 154.5I18+F40.834%3.061.90
1 to 55I18+F40.469%1.701.47
1 to 105I18+F40.837%2.521.80
1 to 155I18+F41.147%3.492.10
1 to 54.5All0.313%1.611.41
1 to 104.5All0.608%2.291.68
1 to 154.5All0.862%3.101.91
1 to 55All0.494%1.711.47
1 to 105All0.857%2.551.81
1 to 155All1.182%3.542.11

Explantion of columns

Spread: This is the ratio of the player?s minimum bet to maximum bet. The bigger the range, the greater the player?s advantage, and bankroll volatility. A wide bet spread also sets off a red flag. In a six-deck game, I think a 1 to 15 spread is about the most aggressive the player should get. The simulation played one betting spot only.

Penetration: How many decks played before reaching the cut card. In a six-deck shoe, 4.5 is the norm.

Index Numbers: I already explained index numbers above. Simulations were run using both the Illustrious 18 and Fab 4 (I18+F4) above, and with the full table. The difference is not much, which shows that knowing the top 22 gets you most of the benefit of knowing all of them.

Player Advantage: This is the ratio of net player win to total initial bets. For example, in the last row, the player could expect to win 1.182% of his total initial bets.


Standard Deviation: This is a term for the volatility per initial bet.

Average Bet: The average final bet per hand, compared to the lowest bet For example, in the last row, if the player?s minimum bet were $100, his average bet would be $211. This includes additional money bet due to doubles and splits.

This table was created using CVCX Blackjack Analyzer by Casino Vérité. This software produces hundreds of different statistics for just about any set of rules, betting strategies, and playing strategies. For the player who wants to run these tests, this software is the best there is, in my opinion.


  1. Professional Blackjack by Stanford Wong, page 31, 1994 ed.
  2. Blackjack Attack by Don Schlesinger, page 62, 2004 ed.


Don Schlesinger: For his permission to reprint the Illustrious 18 and Fab 4 tables from his book, Blackjack Attack.
Norman Wattenberger: For his complimentary use of CVCX Blackjack Analyzer by Casino Vérité.



Practice your card counting skills with our trainer.

When Counting Cards When Do You Between

Further Reading

  • Card Counting Introduction.
  • Wizard Ace-Five Count: Very easy and simple card counting strategy.
  • '21' Movie Review: Truth and fiction about the movie about the MIT card counting team.
  • Blackjack book reviews.
  • Main blackjack page.

When To Bet When Counting Cards

Written by:Michael Shackleford