The HILO System of card counting is easy to understand, but takes practice to put in play real time. The system assigns a value to every card in the decks. The cards from ten thru Ace are valued at –1 each. The cards valued at +1 are 2 thru 6. The three remaining cards (7. 8. 9) are valued at zero. As each card is dealt the player keeps a running total of the count, like ten, ten, five would equal M-1. Or 2, 8, 4 would equal +2. This running total is kept accurately in the head of the player as the cards are dealt. When the count gets above +1 or below –1 the deck favors the dealer or the player. The plus number is good for the house and the minus number is good for the player. The logic is as follows; a deck that is minus is rich in high cards and the same idea for the plus numbers as they are better for the house.
Once the player can accurately count down a six-deck shoe, the player is in the catbird seat When the shoe gets to an extreme minus number the deck is rich in high cards which is hard on the dealer when they get a bust hand. At this time the player should increase their bet or play more hands. A running count around zero is a neutral shoe and neither the house nor the player has a big advantage. A neutral shoe is a crapshoot and not a time to bet larger bets. A big minus number is good for the house and time to cut the bet down. A deck in this configuration also means that pairs may not be split or double downs are not good bets. This is a very advantages situation for the dealer as they are less likely to bust their hand with a hit. A high plus count is good for the player’s side and should be taken advantage of by betting more or playing more hands.
Even when the shoe is in a favorable count for the players, there is a need to play the percentages on hits and stands. This also may be a good time to take insurance if the dealer is showing an Ace.