Hi-lo Blackjack Strategy

The Hi-Lo Blackjack strategy is one of the most effective and simple card counting methods in blackjack. It’s widely popular among online casino players in Australia and recommended by CasinoAus for beginners and intermediate players.

What Is Hi-lo In Blackjack?

The Hi-Lo strategy, a card counting method in Blackjack, was created by engineer and mathematician Harvey Dubner. The main aim of this game is to assign values to cards and to keep a running count to determine whether the remaining deck is favourable to the player or the dealer.

The Hi-Lo Blackjack Strategy

The Hi-lo Blackjack Strategy In Three Steps

If you have not quite understood how this Blackjack variant works, here is a breakdown.


Assign value to cards

In Hi-Lo also known by others as HiLo or High-Low, a player assigns a certain value to each card they have open in their hand using this rating:

  • Ace, Ten, and face cards = -1
  • Seven, Eight, and Nine = 0
  • Deuce, Three, Four, Five, and Six = 1

Running Count

The player needs to start and keep a “running count” of zero at the start of the shoe or deck. As the dealer reveals your cards, you must constantly add or subtract from the “running count”, according to the rating we’ve provided on the first step.

  • E.g. If the cards dealt out are 10, J, 3, 5, Q then your math would be as follows: -1 – 1 + 1 + 1 – 1 which equals a value of -1.

Divide the “running count”

To get the “true count” in the Hi-Lo strategy, divide the running count by the number of decks left in the game.  For example, if your running count is +7 and there are 4 decks remaining, you calculate the true count like this:

  • Divide 7 by 4, which equals 1.75.
  • Round 1.75 up to 2.

So, the true count is 2. If the true count is positive, our experts suggest you should increase your bet.

Remember, you don’t need to start over with your count after each hand because the used cards aren’t shuffled back into the deck until the end of the game.

Hi-lo Blackjack Tips For Aussies

The Hi-Lo Blackjack strategy is popular and effective, but it has some downsides:

  • Requires Full Attention: You must stay very focused. Even a brief distraction can ruin your count.
  • Not Allowed in Physical Casinos: Card counting is banned in most land-based casinos. If caught, you could be asked to leave.
  • Ineffective for Online Casinos: Many online casinos reshuffle the deck of online blackjack after every hand, making card counting useless.

The Hi-Lo strategy is most effective in environments where card counting is permitted. In those cases, it’s a winning strategy!

How to Perfect Your Hi-lo Blackjack Strategy

The Hi-Lo strategy is one of the most popular card-counting methods in Blackjack due to its simplicity and effectiveness. Here are some types and tricks to help you master the Hi-Lo system and boost your success at the Blackjack table:

Master the Basics First

Before diving into card counting, make sure you are comfortable with the basic Blackjack strategy, which tells you the optimal way to play each hand.

Practice Your Running Count
  • Start Slow: Begin by practising counting a single deck at home, slowly turning over cards and updating your running count.
  • Speed Up Gradually: Increase your speed as you get more comfortable. You should be able to count a deck in under 30 seconds.
  • Practice in Realistic Settings: Simulate casino conditions by practising with distractions, such as background noise or conversation.
Keep a Steady True Count

Learn to quickly estimate how many decks are left in the shoe, which is crucial for calculating the true count. Learn to divide accurately as well. Divide your running count by the number of remaining decks to get the true count. For example, if the running count is 8 and there are 2 decks left, the true count is +4.

Adjust Your Bets Wisely

Increase your bets on positive counts. This means that you must bet more when the true count is positive, as there are more high-value cards left.

On the other hand, lower your bets on negative counters. Reduce your bets or play the minimum when the true count is negative. It would indicate that more low-value cards are left, which favour the deal.

Adapt Your Playing Decisions

Use the true count to adjust your playing strategy. For example, when the count is high, you might stand on lower totals or split pairs more aggressively. Know when to deviate. Sometimes, deviating from the basic strategy on the true count can give you an edge, such as hitting on a soft 18 against a strong dealer card when the count is low.

Manage your Bankroll Effectively

Decide on your betting limits and stick to them. Never bet more than you are comfortable losing. Develop a betting spread (the range between your minimum and maximum bets) that matches the true count but remains subtle.

Choose the Right Games

Play at tables with rules that favour the player, such as fewer decks, dealer stands on soft 17 and doubling down allowed after splits.

Practice and Patience

Keep practising your counting skills regularly to maintain speed and accuracy. Card-counting is a long-term strategy. Don’t expect immediate results.


As we wrap up this journey through the intriguing world of Hi-Lo Blackjack, we hope you now have a robust understanding of its unique features and strategies. Mastering the game not only requires a good grip on the rules but also an appreciation of its nuances, like the Hi-Lo card counting system.

Remember, card counting isn’t about knowing what card comes next, but about understanding the probabilities and using them to make informed decisions. Even though it’s a skill that requires practice and patience, it can significantly improve your game over time. Keep these insights in mind, and may your next blackjack adventure be filled with excitement, and hopefully, a few winning hands!

Hi-Lo Blackjack FAQs

Jamie Bungaree avatar
Jamie Bungaree
Head of Casino Games

Hi, I’m Jamie, the Head of Casino Games at CasinoAus. For over eight years, I’ve been exploring the exciting universe of iGaming, from pokies to table games. My experience isn’t just about playing; it’s about understanding the mechanics and delivering quality content. My background in journalism equips me to provide you with insights that go beyond the surface. I’m here to make sure you have an engaging and informative experience.

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