High Low Card Counting System

This is a very effective and simple card counting system. The High Low system is the first system most card counters learn. The High Low system, also known as Hi Lo System or Plus/Minus system, was first presented by Harvey Dubner in 1963 in Las Vegas. Dubner basically simplified the ‘Ten point’ complex card counting strategy.

The High Low system is attractive because it’s simple. You will make fewer errors and play fast.

The High Low system is a single-level or level-one system, meaning that every card played at your table will increase or lower the count by no more than 1. There are more complicated – and therefore more accurate – card counting systems, but you should remember that it is crucial that you maintain your ability to play blackjack at a normal pace and with a straight face while counting the cards. Also, complicated systems might lead to card counting errors and slower play, both yielding inferior returns. This is why many people are attracted by the simplicity of the High Low System and learn to play it well.

There are three steps in applying the High Low Card Counting System:

  1. Keep track of the running count.
  2. Convert the Running Count to the True Count.
  3. Adjust your bets and strategy in the next round accordingly.

The Running Count in the High Low System

After shuffling, a new shoe has a value of zero – and you will adjust that value with every card dealt. You will see there are as many cards with positive values as there are cards with negative values, thus the whole deck taken together has a count of zero. We call this a ‘balanced system’. You adjust the value of the ‘running count’ with every card played as follows:

high low card counting system

So if a new shoe is played and we are dealt a Jack, the new table count becomes -1. If the House is dealt a 5, the new table count is 0 again. You keep track of the table count throughout all subsequent games until reshuffling, which sets the table count to zero again.

True Count and beating the dealer in High Low Count

You need to convert the Running Count to the True Count by dividing it by the number of decks still left in the shoe (the unplayed cards). This is because the High Low Count system becomes more accurate as more cards are played away. When the True Count is high, the deck is strongly in your favour and you should adjust your strategy. Raise your bets, double more often and let the dealer go bust. Read more about the True Count conversion and how good your odds are at certain True Counts in our general Card Counting section. Learn to apply the High Low Card Counting system well, wait for the tables to turn in your favour and beat the dealer big time!