The Hi-Low method simply involves keeping track of the high and low cards in a shoe, and therefore how many of them are still dealt. This does not mean keeping track of individual cards; it just means keeping the total active by assigning the value 1, -1 or 0 to the cards being hit, depending on their face value. The higher the total score, the more likely the high card will come next. You then increase your stake to expect this, as higher cards increase your chances of winning blackjack.
However, there are many deeper levels of card counting. The more complex the card counting strategy, the more accurate and profitable. At the same time, the more complicated it is, the harder it is to follow, and therefore the more likely you are to make mistakes. Mistakes can be costly, because you will usually play many hands at low odds, and if you make a mistake when the high cards come, you will likely sacrifice the rewards you get. Therefore, the best card counters use strategies that aim to strike a balance between complexity and reward.
Card counting level strategy
When applied to card counting, level means the highest value you will give to each individual card as they are played. Therefore, the Hi-Lo strategy is a tier one strategy, since the highest value assigned to any card is 1 (any card from 2 to 6 counts as 1). Level 2 strategy means dividing cards into more categories and assigning values -2, -1, 0 1 and 2. You can immediately see that the higher your level, the more granularity you will get. the higher the hit and therefore the more accurate your card count. However, it is evident that a tier 2 strategy will require more focus and higher error rates, as now you have to keep track of more card categories. The more levels you use, the more you need to think – while disguising the fact that you’re counting cards.
Another strategy is to keep a sub count of a certain number of cards, in addition to the main count. The sub-count allows you to keep track of separate cards, usually Aces, as they are very important cards in blackjack. Again, this gives you one more thing to focus on, and you need to decide what level of error risk you’re willing to accept.
Of course, with all these different strategies, it is important that you practice them so that they become second nature before you try to apply them in live casino games. The best way to practice is to simulate real world conditions. Ask a friend to act as the dealer and the other friends take on the roles of other players. Ask them to talk to you to distract you while you practice, and to use loud music and other noises to increase your distraction.