strategy with High-Low Card Counting Strategy Introduction by The Wizard of Odds.

Appendices

1: Total dependent expected return table for an infinite deck

2a: Probabilities of dealer blackjack after peek

2b: Probabilities of dealer blackjack before peek

3a: Exceptions to single-deck S17 basic strategy

3b: Exceptions to double-deck S17 basic strategy

3c: Exceptions to single-deck H17 basic strategy

4: Blackjack standard deviation details

5: Infinite deck expected return by player hand and dealer upcard

6: Fine points of when to surrender

7: Effect of card removal

8: Analysis of blackjack side bets

9: Composition-dependent expected returns for 1 to 8 decks

10: Continuous shuffling machine vs. cut card

11: Value and strategy for 678 and 777 bonuses

12: Risk of ruin statistics

13: Probabilities in the first four cards

14: Value of each initial player card

15: House edge using total-dependent vs. composition-dependent basic strategy

16: Basic strategy when dealer exposes both cards

17: The Ace-Five card counting method

18: Basic strategy exceptions for three to six cards

19: Blackjack splitting strategy when a back-player is betting

20: Blackjack doubling strategy when doubling after splitting aces is allowed

21: Details on the Wizard’s Simple Strategy

Miscellaneous

My comments on the movie ’21’

Australian Blackjack

Introduction to Card Counting

Rule Variations

Blackjack ‘Charlie’ Rule

Rummy (Blackjack variant popular in Costa Rica)

External Links

Macau Blackjack rules

Simple Blackjack Explanation

Explantion of columns Footnotes Acknowledgments Further Reading

The Wizard of Vegas

The Wizard of Macau

Las Apuestas

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Introduction to the High-Low Card Counting Strategy

The Hi-Lo Count is the most widely written about, and in my judgment, the most commonly used card counting strategy. The High-Low was first introduced in 1963 by Harvey Dubner 1 . It has since been discussed by just about all the major blackjack writers. In my opinion, the best introductory treatment is in Professional Blackjack by Stanford Wong, and the most detailed coverage is in Blackjack Attack by Don Schlesinger.

Step 1 : Assign a point value to each rank, as follows.

Step 2 : Start with a ‘Running Count’ of zero at the start of the deck/shoe. As cards are revealed, keep adding or subtracting from the Running Count, according to the point system in step 1. For example, if the first ten cards to come out of the shoe were 3, 5, K, 7, Q, A, 8, 5, 4, 2, then the running count would be 1 +1 -1 +0 -1 -1 +0 +1 +1 +1 = +2.

Step 3 : Divide the running count by the number of decks remaining, to get what is known as the ‘True Count.’ This is the part that beginning counters hate. You don?t need to be exact. A rough estimate will do, in my opinion. Let’s look at example. The running count is +7 and there are about 4 decks left. The true count would be 7/4 = 1.75. Round that up to 2, to keep it simple. The more you play the more you will be comfortable eyeballing this adjustment, without doing any real division in your head. Usually the right play is obvious. In borderline cases only will you need to do this True Count conversion.

Step 4 : The greater the true count, the more you should bet. This is where card counting becomes more art than science. Some blackjack books give rigid rules on how this should be done. However, the casino managers have read these books too, and the patterns recommended in earlier books now set off red flags. How you do this should depend on your own style, and how much heat you are getting. It helps avoid heat to keep the ratio of maximum bet to minimum bet to a limit, known as the ?Bet Spread.? Only increasing bets after a win, only decreasing after a loss, and staying the same after a push, makes play look more natural, but at a cost to profitability.

Step 5 : For some hands, you will play according to the True Count and a table of ‘Index Numbers,’ rather than basic strategy. The greater the count, the more inclined you will be to stand, double, split, take insurance, and surrender. For example, the Index Number for a player 15 against a dealer 10 is +4. This means the player should stand if the True Count is +4 or higher, otherwise hit.

The following tables are known as the ‘Illustrious 18’ and ‘Fab 4’ respectively. 2 They appear in Blackjack Attack by Don Schlesinger, and are republished here with permission. These are the most important index numbers to remember. Knowing only these will give the counter 80% to 85% of the value of knowing every index number, based on a six-deck game. The difference is more in single and double-deck games. The lists are given in order of value. If you can?t memorize all of them, start at the top, and work your way down.

The player should stand/double/split if the True Count equals or exceeds the Index Number, otherwise hit. The player should take insurance if the True Count is +3 or greater.

The player should surrender if the True Count equals or exceeds the Index Number.

A full table of all index numbers can be found in Chapter 3, and Appendix A, of Professional Blackjack by Stanford Wong.

The next table shows some statistics using the High-Low. The blackjack rules this table is based are liberal Vegas shoe, as follows:

Six decks

Dealer stands on soft 17

Surrender allowed

Double after split allowed

Player may resplit to four hands, including aces

To avoid setting off red flags, the simulation increased the bet after a win only, decreased after a loss only, and always stayed the same after a push, except resetting to a minimum bet after a shuffle. The simulation rounded the remaining decks to the nearest half deck, otherwise playing perfectly.

Spread : This is the ratio of the player?s minimum bet to maximum bet. The bigger the range, the greater the player?s advantage, and bankroll volatility. A wide bet spread also sets off a red flag. In a six-deck game, I think a 1 to 15 spread is about the most aggressive the player should get. The simulation played one betting spot only.

Penetration : How many decks played before reaching the cut card. In a six-deck shoe, 4.5 is the norm.

Index Numbers : I already explained index numbers above. Simulations were run using both the Illustrious 18 and Fab 4 (I18+F4) above, and with the full table. The difference is not much, which shows that knowing the top 22 gets you most of the benefit of knowing all of them.

Player Advantage : This is the ratio of net player win to total initial bets. For example, in the last row, the player could expect to win 1.182% of his total initial bets.

Standard Deviation : This is a term for the volatility per initial bet.

Average Bet : The average final bet per hand, compared to the lowest bet For example, in the last row, if the player?s minimum bet were $100, his average bet would be $211. This includes additional money bet due to doubles and splits.

This table was created using CVCX Blackjack Analyzer by Casino Vérité. This software produces hundreds of different statistics for just about any set of rules, betting strategies, and playing strategies. For the player who wants to run these tests, this software is the best there is, in my opinion.

Don Schlesinger: For his permission to reprint the Illustrious 18 and Fab 4 tables from his book, Blackjack Attack .

Norman Wattenberger: For his complimentary use of CVCX Blackjack Analyzer by Casino Vérité.

Practice your card counting skills with our trainer.

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strategy is The Wizard of Odds gives the odds, house edge, and proper strategy for the casino coin-op game Derby.

Appendices

1: Total dependent expected return table for an infinite deck

2a: Probabilities of dealer blackjack after peek

2b: Probabilities of dealer blackjack before peek

3a: Exceptions to single-deck S17 basic strategy

3b: Exceptions to double-deck S17 basic strategy

3c: Exceptions to single-deck H17 basic strategy

4: Blackjack standard deviation details

5: Infinite deck expected return by player hand and dealer upcard

6: Fine points of when to surrender

7: Effect of card removal

8: Analysis of blackjack side bets

9: Composition-dependent expected returns for 1 to 8 decks

10: Continuous shuffling machine vs. cut card

11: Value and strategy for 678 and 777 bonuses

12: Risk of ruin statistics

13: Probabilities in the first four cards

14: Value of each initial player card

15: House edge using total-dependent vs. composition-dependent basic strategy

16: Basic strategy when dealer exposes both cards

17: The Ace-Five card counting method

18: Basic strategy exceptions for three to six cards

19: Blackjack splitting strategy when a back-player is betting

20: Blackjack doubling strategy when doubling after splitting aces is allowed

21: Details on the Wizard’s Simple Strategy

Miscellaneous

My comments on the movie ’21’

Australian Blackjack

Introduction to Card Counting

Rule Variations

Blackjack ‘Charlie’ Rule

Rummy (Blackjack variant popular in Costa Rica)

External Links

Macau Blackjack rules

Simple Blackjack Explanation

The Wizard of Vegas

The Wizard of Macau

Las Apuestas

Home

›

Game Odds & Strategies

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Basic Strategy for European Blackjack – charts

The following basic strategy table is appropriate for European blackjack , at least the

variation I saw played in Berlin and Hamburg, and specifically excepting the United Kingdom. The specific rules are as follows:

The house edge under this

rules is 0.62%.

To use the basic strategy

look up your hand along the left vertical edge and the

dealer’s up card along the top. In both cases an A stands

for ace. From top to bottom are the hard totals, soft

totals, and splittable hands.

Prior to September 1, 2007, splitting fours, fives, and tens was not allowed. This only affected the basic strategy player with fours, increasing the house edge by 0.003%. I have heard that with the new law allowing all splits, doubling on any first two cards is also permitted, at least at the Grosvenor casinos. Following is the basic strategy for post 9/1/07 U.K. rules.

If you should find a table that allows early surrender then take it with any of the following hands. I have heard rumors such games exist in Russia, and I know they do in Macau , except against a dealer ace.

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