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Blackjack Counting Systems Intro

Nowadays quite a lot of different card counting systems exist. Some of them have been developed by famous blackjack players in the process of game and were perfected further and further, and some of them are referred to the old basic systems like Thorp's.

In fact all card counting systems developed from Edward O. Thorp, but still compared to modern card counting his system is very rough and not effective. Not because it was like that from the very beginning - just because on those times casino rules were a bit different and they gaming process itself didn't comprise so much difficulties like in present time.

The main and the basic

All in all, the only thing which a blackjack player should start from is a basic system called Hi/Lo Card counting System. It was invented for simplification of the counting process, because no one could remember ALL cards and their suits which were discarded during the game.

That's how Hi/Lo system appeared. The principle is rather simple: all dealers beneficial cards are counted as -1. On the contrary, all players cards are counted as +1. Also there are several cards which are considered to be neutral both for player and dealer, and they are counted as 0.

The overall picture is as follows:

  • 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are counted as (-1).
  • 7, 8, and 9 are counted as 0.
  • 10, J, Q, K and Ace are counted as (+1).

This is actually all. Total score in the beginning of the game is 0.


Card counting goes as following: at the beginning of the game the player keeps in mind 0 starting score. During dealing cards he must quickly and accurately watch all player's cards and according to their value plus and minus all of them in his head. All in all he sees the dealer's hole card (see Basic blackjack rules) and also takes it into account.

The next round starts with the score which is still in your head, and the lower is the score, the higher are player's chances. According to this you vary your bets - when odds are yours, you increase it, when odds don't favor you - decrease your bet.

Other card counting systems

The Hi/Lo System is a basic one. Remember: all other systems are based on it, and the only difference is that in those systems there are other numbers for same cards, and as a result they are a bit more difficult to remember and to count simultaneously. For beginners the Hi/Lo is the best card counting system to begin with, and as soon as they treat with it freely they may proceed to more difficult ones.

For example, let's take Uston SS card counting system by Ken Uston. The only difference is in the value of cards:

  • 2, 4, 6 are counted as 2.
  • 5 is counted as 3.
  • 7 is counted as 1.
  • 8 goes for 0.
  • 9 is a (-1).
  • All 10-valued cards are counted as (-2).

This system is a bit more complex because of the different value of cards, which makes it a bit more difficult to count quickly. But the practice easily allows overcoming of this problem.