Top Three Blackjack Card Counting Systems for Beginners

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Are you thinking about the prospect of counting cards when playing blackjack? If so, I’ve compiled a list of the top three card counting systems you’ll want to consider using as a newcomer. These systems are a great start, as they’re easy and quick to learn, and they can help you improve your chances of winning when used correctly.

Keep reading to learn more about each of the following card counting system and how you can begin today.

  • Hi-Lo System
  • Red 7 System
  • Knockout (KO) System
  • Conclusion

Hi-Lo System

Up first, one of my highly suggested blackjack card counting systems for beginners is the Hi-Lo System. My favorite part of this system is there are only three card values you need to memorize, making it simple to study and practice. I’ll walk you through the basics of this method so you can see if it might be a good fit for you.

Hi-Lo System Card Values and Running Count

First, you’ll need to learn the Hi-Lo System’s associated card values. Using the chart below, study the value for each card, then assign these to the cards as they’re dealt. For example, if an ace is dealt, you’ll assign it a value of -1.

  • A, 10: -1
  • 2, 3, 4, 5, 6: +1
  • 7, 8, 9: 0

Now that you understand the associated card values for the Hi-Lo System, you’ll use them to calculate a running count. To do this, simply add the value of each card dealt up in your head and keep a tally of the total. This process is called your running count.

Hi-Lo System True Count

With the Hi-Lo System and many other card counting methods, you’ll have to use what’s called a “running count” whenever there’s more than one deck in use. In short, a running count helps the system account for the use of various decks to help you properly determine your next step.

Calculating the true count is a simple process. To do it, divide your current running count when it’s time to place a bet by the estimated number of decks left in the shoe. For example, if your current running count is 12, and you think there are 4 decks left in the shoe, your true count would be 3 (12 divided by 4).

Sizing Your Bets With the Hi-Lo System

Finally, once you’ve converted things to your true count, you’ll be able to use it to help you determine how you size your next blackjack wager. Basically, whatever your true count is, you’ll use it as a multiplier based on your starting bet. Here’s a summary to help you visualize things:

  • If your true count using the Hi-Lo System is 1, 0, or negative, you’ll just bet your minimum bet.
  • If your true count using the system is 2, you’ll bet 2x your minimum bet.
  • If your true count is 3, you’ll bet 3x your minimum bet.
  • And so on…

For this blog, I’ve kept everything relatively high level relating to the Hi-Lo System and how it functions. If you’re in search of a more detailed explanation of the system, including tips on how to practice it, be sure to visit the link included below.

Red 7 System

The next blackjack card counting system you should consider as a beginner is the Red 7 System. One of the main reasons I’m a massive fan of this system for beginners is because it doesn’t require users to calculate a true count. In turn, there’s no mental division needed. However, you will need to memorize more card values with this system compared to the Hi-Lo method of counting cards.

  • A, K, Q, J, 10: -1
  • 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, red 7: +1
  • Black 7, 8, 9: 0

Red 7 System Card Values, Starting Count, and Running Count

Like the Hi-Lo method, the Red 7 System will require you to memorize a handful of card values. Check out the list below to see what values you’ll use if you choose this card counting method.

What differentiates the Red 7 System from the Hi-Lo one is the starting count. With the Hi-Lo method of counting cards, you start with a count of zero. However, with the Red 7 System, you’ll adjust your starting count based on the number of decks being used. Check out the points below for the starting counts you’ll utilize for different scenarios.

  • 1 deck: -2
  • 2 decks: -4
  • 4 decks: -8
  • 6 decks: -12
  • And so on…

A good way to remember this is to take the number of decks being used and multiply it by 2. Then, just make that number negative, and you’ll have the starting count you should build from for your running count when using the Red 7 System.

Once you’ve determined your starting count, you’ll then add the card values to each as the cards are dealt during the game. This once again creates your running count as I described above in the Hi-Lo section. Continue to add the card values to one another to help track how you should handle your next wager when it’s time for you to bet.

Hi-Lo System True Count

As I previewed at the start of this section, one of the best things about this method is it doesn’t require you to do any mental division. By adjusting your starting count, you’re accounting for the number of decks being used. In turn, there’s no need to do a true count calculation. In turn, with the Red 7 card counting system, your running count always equals your true count. For some folks, this simplifies things compared to the Hi-Lo System.

As an example, if your current running count with the Red 7 System is 2, your true count is also 2. Below, I’ll discuss how you’ll use this true count to help you size your wagers with this blackjack card counting system.

Sizing Your Bets With the Red 7 System

Unlike the Hi-Lo System, there isn’t a set formula for how you size your bets when using the Red 7 System for blackjack card counting. However, there is some general guidance you can use. When your count is low or negative, you want to bet as little as possible. However, the higher your count is, the more you’ll want to wager.

Once again, I’ve covered information about the Red 7 System as a very high level on this page. If you’re looking to gain more insight into the nitty-gritty of this method, be sure to click on the link below.

Knockout (KO) System

Finally, the last blackjack card counting system you may want to consider as a beginner is the Knockout System. Also known by the name KO System, this one is very similar to the Red 7 method. Once again, you’ll adjust a starting count, meaning you won’t have to worry about dividing later to make a true count.

Knockout System Card Values: Starting Count and Running Count

From a card value standpoint, you’ll notice things are very similar between the Red 7 System and the KO one. The only real difference relates to the 7s. With the Knockout System, all 7s have a value of +1 for your counts. Check out the details below of the card values you’ll want to memorize when using this blackjack card counting system.

  • A, K, Q, J, 10: -1
  • 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7: +1
  • 8, 9: 0

Regarding your starting count for the KO System, it depends on the number of decks in use like the Red 7 System did. Below, I’ve included the starting counts you’ll want to memorize. As you can tell, this one isn’t as simple as the Red 7 method where things are easily calculated. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got these etched into your brain.

  • 1 deck: 0
  • 2 decks: -4
  • 6 decks: -20
  • 8 decks: -28

After setting your starting count, the running count for the Knockout System works just like the other methods described on this page. You’ll add the proper card value to your running count each time a new one is dealt on the table.

Knockout System True Count

If you read the section above about the Red 7 System, then you’re aware you don’t have to do any math to come up with a true count thanks to the use of an adjusted starting count. Therefore, whatever your current running count is using the Knockout System, that’s also your true count. This is what you’ll use to help size your wagers.

Sizing Your Bets With the Knockout System

As with the Red 7 System, there are no established rules relating to how you size your bets with the KO System. The general rule of thumb is you have a small chance of getting blackjack whenever your count is low or negative. However, whenever it’s high, you have a high probability of getting blackjack. In turn, you’ll want to bet small amounts when your count is low or negative, and wager more whenever your count is higher.

As with the other blackjack card counting systems included on this page, I’ve included a resource page below filled with tons of additional information about the Knockout System. Be sure to check it out if you’re considering this method to ensure you’ve got a full grasp of how it all functions.


Now that you’ve discovered three blackjack card counting systems for beginners, hopefully you’d like to start practicing to improve your skills at the game. If you’re interested in viewing other card counting methods or getting more insight into how you can implement things, be sure to click here. Also, you can gather up tons of other helpful ideas and strategies for the game of blackjack using this ultimate online guide to blackjack. Lastly, if you’re looking to play blackjack online right now, don’t miss out on the best online casinos we’ve ranked for you. Thanks for reading, and best of luck as you begin your card counting adventures!

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for since early 2016. ...

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