GENERIC BASIC STRATEGY
THE HIGH-LOW SYSTEM
HOW TO WIN WITHOUT GETTING KICKED OUT
The High-Low Blackjack System
Winning at blackjack requires two things: You must bet more when you have the advantage and less when the dealer has the advantage; and you must make correct decisions on insurance, surrender, splitting pairs, doubling down, and hitting or standing. This chapter discusses single-exposure blackjack. Later on we will discusses double exposure.
You need a counting system to tell whether you have the advantage and to aid in making decisions. Aces and 10s favor you because naturals are worth half again more to you than they are to the dealer. Small cards favor the dealer by decreasing the dealer's chance of busting.
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The High-Low Counting Cards System
Counting cards in the high-low system is relatively simple.
Start with a count of zero after the cards are shuffled. Add one for every small card (2, 3, 4, 5, 6) that you see. Subtract one for every ace or 10-count card that you see. Do not change your count for 7, 8, or 9. This is shown in Table 2 -High-Low Count.
Keep a running count. Accumulate the total since the last shuffle. The running count will hop up and down around zero, but will generally stay between -6 and +6. A full deck contains the same number of +1 cards as -1 cards. Therefore, at the end of the deck the running count should come back to zero. This is called a "balanced count".
Practice counting with a deck of cards. Shuffle the cards and turn them up one at a time, while keeping a running count. In addition to counting one card at a time, you should practice with two-card combinations since you often see two cards at a time in casino play. You should practice until you are very fast and never make a mistake. Practicing at a casino costs money.
It is less expensive to become perfect- or thereabouts before going to a casino.
Keeping an accurate count is essential. The easiest way to maintain confidence in your accuracy is to count every card as it is turned face up on the table. Do not count other players' cards that you see but that are turned face down. If you count every card you see, when the dealer turns each hand face up in turn you may not recall whether or not you have already counted some cards. You cannot afford such confusion. If you can remember which cards you have counted, then count what you can see. If you do not trust your memory then count only the cards that stay face up.
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