Blackjack: how effective is the Hi-Lo system in blackjack?
There are a huge number of different systems out there for blackjack players. The majority of them are aimed at bankroll management.
These are usually much more appropriate for beginner players, as it allows them to concentrate purely on one aspect of their strategy. However, there are a number of card counting strategies that are aimed at beginners. These are slightly simplified in order to make them easier to understand and master. One of the most prominent is the Hi-Lo system. What exactly is this system though, and how effective is it?
The Hi-Lo system explained
The Hi-Lo system is one of the most widely used systems in blackjack. In fact, it is possibly the most common card counting strategy. It was first invented in the 1960s and as such has been around for a significant portion of the lifespan of casinos. It works by applying a point value to every card in a deck of cards and calculating the current score of the deck or decks being used – from that score, you then decide on what you should wager at the table. That explains the basics of the system, but it does not help when it comes to using it in a game – so a more in-depth explanation is in order.
Firstly, each card is assigned its value: 2 to 6 have a value of +1; 7 to 9 have a value of 0; and 10 to Ace have a value of -1. Once you are aware of the values, you have to use these to keep what is called a running count. The count starts at zero, and as each card comes out, you apply the value to the running count. So, if an 8, 4, 6, King and 3 comes out, the running count would be +2.
From here, you will need to work out the “true count”. This is worked out by dividing the running count by the number of decks left in the shoe. So, if the running count is 9 and the number of decks left is 3, the true count is +3. Once you have the true count, you can decide on your betting strategy.
In general, the higher the true count, the higher your stake should be. It should be used in conjunction with basic blackjack strategy to make sure that the right bets are placed. This is where personal experience and knowledge come into play. The more you play blackjack, the more you will know the right time to place a wager from using the Hi-Lo system.
For players who like to utilise their memory to a much greater degree, there are also tables on offer – this takes the Hi-Lo strategy to a more accurate level. It requires a huge amount of ability in terms of memory and recall, but it does significantly increase your chances of being successful when using the Hi-Lo system. Because of this, if you are serious about improving your blackjack skills, then the Hi-Lo system is a vital tactic to learn.
Is it effective?
The Hi-Lo system is actually one of the most effective systems. In some cases, it can actually reduce the house edge so much that the player has an edge of 1%. However, it is important to note that for this to be the case, it takes a huge amount of skill, a fantastic memory, and superb blackjack instincts.
For most players, the Hi-Lo system will offer them a slight reduction in the house edge, as long as they implement the system correctly. Because most new players will not be completely at home using the system properly, it can lead to some slight issues. This means that in order to get the most from the Hi-Lo system, it is important to practice as much as possible before playing for real.
The best way to practice is by using demo versions of blackjack, which can be found at Bitcasino, in order to learn how the system works. You will also begin to build up the experience of when to stick to basic blackjack strategy and when to trust in the Hi-Lo system.
As with all betting systems, how effective it is depends on the player. If the player has managed to master the system, then it is highly effective. If they have not, then the effectiveness will be reduced.
Can it be used on other games?
Due to the relative similarities between the two games, some people may think that the Hi-Lo system can be used for baccarat. However, this is not possible. Baccarat offers a different scenario from blackjack, where the player is not in control of the moves that are carried out. This means that card counting offers very little by the way of advantage for players.
The Hi-Lo system only really offers players a large amount of benefit when used for blackjack. As such, if you are a baccarat player, then a card counting system would be a waste of time and you are better off sticking to standard bankroll management strategies. These are far more successful when it comes to being an effective baccarat strategy.
Where to play blackjack
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Words: Sean McNulty