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Basic Strategy in Text
Split
Always split aces and 8s.
Never split 5s and 10s.
Split 2s and 3s against a dealer 4-7, and against a 2 or 3 if DAS is allowed.
Split 4s only if DAS is allowed and the dealer shows a 5 or 6.
Split 6s against a dealer 3-6, and against a 2 if DAS is allowed.
Split 7s against a dealer 2-7.
Split 9s against a dealer 2-6 or 8-9.
Double
Double hard 9 vs. dealer 3-6.
Double hard 10 except against a dealer 10 or A.
Double hard 11 except against a dealer A.
Double soft 13 or 14 vs. dealer 5-6.
Double soft 15 or 16 vs. dealer 4-6.
Double soft 17 or 18 vs. dealer 3-6.
Hit or Stand
Always hit hard 11 or less.
Stand on hard 12 against a dealer 4-6, otherwise hit.
Stand on hard 13-16 against a dealer 2-6, otherwise hit.
Always stand on hard 17 or more.
Always hit soft 17 or less.
Stand on soft 18 except hit against a dealer 9, 10, or A.
Always stand on soft 19 or more.

Counting Cards
By now you’ve chosen a counting system that you want to learn and even though it may be different than the Hi / Lo Count which I’m
going to discuss here, the methods used to learn it are the same. Just make adjustments where appropriate and you’ll do fine.
The Hi / Lo counting system assigns a “point” value to each type of card in a deck. The first step in card counting is to memorize those
values. Here they are
Card
Point Value
2
+1
3
+1
4
+1
5
+1
6
+1
7
0
8
0
9
0
10
-1
J
-1
Q
-1
K
-1
A
-1
A bit of simple math will show you that there are, in a complete deck, an equal number of “plus”-valued cards and “minus”-valued cards.
This is called a “balanced” count and since all cards are valued either 1 or 0, this is also a “single-level” count.
The Power of Card Counting
The Hi / Lo count recognizes that the cards 2 through 6 are of greatest value to the dealer, since these cards turn the dealer’s “stiff”
hands (12 – 16) which s/he must hit into good hands. For example, a 5 turns a dealer’s 12-16 into 17-21, consequently it is the most
important card for a dealer. On the other hand, an Ace is most important to a player, since it’s the key component to a “blackjack” which
pays 3 to 2. So, as “little” cards are played, they are no longer available to the dealer and since there are an equal number of plus- and
minus-valued cards in the deck, a “plus” count tells us that there are a higher proportion of tens and aces left in the unplayed portion of
the deck. This situation is favorable for the player since the chances for a blackjack have increased and doubling or splitting situations
stand a better chance of receiving a high card.
Of course, a dealer has the same chance of receiving high cards as you. But remember that the dealer does not receive 3 to 2 for a
blackjack, may not double or split and must hit 16 or less. Also, as you will learn in a later lesson, knowing the proportion of 10-valued
cards in the decks gives you the knowledge to make profitable insurance bets.
Learning The Point Values
This is the only exercise you will ever need to learn the point values of your counting system. It’s the one I use when I’m switching counts
for a single-deck game or back again to the one I use for multi-deck games. Just take a deck of cards and begin turning them over one at
a time and recite the point value of each card. If a card is a plus-value, I don’t say “Plus 1”; I just say “one”, because it implies “plus”
anyway. If a card is a minus-value, I say “M 1”, not “minus 1” because it saves a syllable. For the “neutral” or zero-value cards, I say
nothing — they are completely ignored for counting purposes with the Hi / Lo system.
So, how does this look? Here’s a quick example
Ace
(M-one)
9
5
(One)
6
(One)
7
King
(M-one)
2
(One)
10
(M-one)
Notice that I’m not keeping track of the cards, but merely stating the point value of each. You must practice this until you have the point
values firmly implanted in your mind but don’t worry, it won’t take long.
Single-Card Countdown
If you feel you know the point values of each card in your system of choice by heart, you may now begin to count down a single deck.
Simply remove any three cards without looking at them (to check your accuracy) and set them aside. Now turn over cards one at a time
and keep a running total of their values. Remember your old algebra classes? If you add +1 to -1 the result is 0. That applies here, so keep
it in mind as you go through the deck.
Here’s an example:
1st card
Ace
The count: M-one
2nd
King
M-two
3rd
10
M-three
4th
6
M-two (make sure you know why)
5th
Queen
M-three
6th
5
M-two
7th
3
M-one
8th
6
Even (I don’t use “zero”)
9th
4
One (again, no “plus”)
Got it? Good. You’re not very fast yet, are you? Well, don’t worry about that; we’ll work on speed later. When you’ve completed the deck,
the count should be off by the value of the three cards we set aside in the beginning. Look at those cards, check your accuracy, shuffle
and begin again. Get into the habit of removing three cards every time you do any counting exercises since they will keep you from
fooling yourself when you make a mistake.
For now the key is accuracy; keep at this until you can go through a deck three or four times in a row without mistakes. What you have
learned here is called the “running count”. Next time we’ll work on speeding up your ability to count; can you believe I’ll have you
zipping through a deck in less than 20 seconds? The babes really love that at parties…