Card Counting Systems

      There are many systems of tracking cards at blackjack. Here are seven that have proven successful over the years:


      All of these systems operate under the same concept: the more 10s and Aces in the deck in comparison to low cards, the more advantageous it is to the player. Conversely, when there are more low cards in the deck, it's bad for the player. The count affects both the amount one bets and one's playing decisions. Let's say you have 16 and the dealer has a 10 showing. That's not good. That's never good! Basic strategy says to hit, but it's almost a coin flip as to which strategy is better in the long run. If there are a lot of 10s in the deck, standing (or surrender, if available) then becomes a good option. But if you know the deck is rich in low cards, you shouldn't hesitate to take a hit.

      The HI-OPT I system of card counting, also known as the Einstein Count, was made popular by Lance Humble in his "The World's Greatest Blackjack Book." (Lance doesn't seem very humble, does he?) ITIGHO, it's probably the easiest to use. The 3,4,5,6 count as +1 and the 10s are -1.

      The HI-OPT II is a more difficult, but more accurate counting system than its predecessor, the HI-OPT I. In this system the 2,3,6,7 are +1, the 4,5 are +2, and the 10 cards are -2. It's harder to use effectively and should only be tried after one has mastered the easier version.

      The HI-LO is almost the same as the HI-OPT I except that you need to keep track of two more cards: the 2 is +1 and the Ace is -1. The HI-LO is superior to the HI-OPT I as far as knowing how big an edge you have, whereas the HI-OPT I is a bit better at improving your actual play as to whether or not to hit, stand, double, split or surrender.

      The Zen count is a bit harder that the HI-LO and HI-OPT. It was introduced by Arnold Snyder in his "Blackbelt in Blackjack" book first published in 1983. The 2,3,7 are +1, the 4,5,6 are +2, 10s are -2 and the Ace is -1. Yes, it's harder, but a bit more accurate than the easier systems.

      The Omega II is identical to the Zen except that 9s are -1 and Aces are 0.

      The Uston Advanced Point Count is super accurate but quite difficult to learn. 2 and 8 are +1, the 3,4,6,7 are +2, the 5 is +3, the 9 is -1 and the 10s are -3. Ouch! That may be a little too much! The Ace is not part of the count, but one should keep a side count as to how many are left.

      Like the Uston count, the Revere Advanced Point Count is on the higher level of difficulty. 2 and 7 are +1, the 3,4,5,6 are +2, and 10s and Aces are -2. The 8 and 9 are neutral.


Strategy   A   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9 10
HI-OPT I +1 +1 +1 +1 -1
HI-OPT II +1 +1 +2 +2 +1 +1 -2
HI-LO -1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 -1
ZEN -1 +1 +1 +2 +2 +2 +1 -2
OMEGA II +1 +1 +2 +2 +2 +1 -1 -2
USTON APC +1 +2 +2 +3 +2 +2 +1 -1 -3
REVERE APC -2 +1 +2 +2 +2 +2 +1 -2

We have to hand it to our HTML table guy. The colors in this chart are fantastic!

Unleaded IG

IG takes pride in having accurate and updated information. If you see something that needs to be corrected, added or deleted, please e-mail us at:

IG = Always On Tilt