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Hi-Lo-13 Blackjack

Hi-Lo-13 Blackjack may be a modern variation as far as online casinos are concerned, but it’s actually derived from a physical casino game from the early 1990s. It was soon ousted because of its weakness to card counting, but the new online version still attracts a lot of attention.

Hi-Lo-13 is built on a European Blackjack ruleset and features a top-tier side bet system that can reward players as highly as 10/1!

How to Play

Hi-Lo-13 Blackjack is an awesome variation which introduces a lucrative side bet and a host of gameplay changes compared to classic blackjack. First, the high-low side bet which this variation is named after.

Before each hand, players can bet on whether their hand will be:

  • Under 13 – Pays even
  • Over 13 – Pays even
  • Exactly 13 – Pays 10/1

For the purpose of the side bets, there are no soft hands: all aces count as 1. Therefore a hand of ace+3 would count as 4, not 14. The high-low bet is paid out immediately after dealing: once wrapped up, regular play continues and aces resume their usual 1 or 11 value.

For many players, this simple alteration gives blackjack a much-needed boost of adrenaline. Many online casino games now offer progressive jackpots and major payouts – the high-low side bet brings blackjack gently into the world of significant one-off payouts.

Playing as a beginner vs veteran

New blackjack players love Hi-Lo-13 for its versatility. You can plug away at basic strategy and make minor gains, but also take risks and potentially take home up to 11x stake for hitting ‘exactly 13’ and then winning the hand. Some players build up their bankroll and splash out on the high-low bet to make bigger gains.

For more experienced players, Hi-Lo-13 Blackjack is mostly played for fun. However, if it’s a 2-deck game without CSMs, many players will flock to it and totally ignore the side bet: the game essentially becomes a 2-deck European Blackjack table, which is ideal for card counting.

Hi-Lo-13 Blackjack Rules

Since Hi-Lo-13 uses a largely European ruleset, there are a number of differences from traditional American-style blackjack. For a start, cards are dealt in a slightly different order which stops the dealer from ‘peeking’ for blackjack if they draw an ace. Insurance bets are therefore made before any cards are dealt and payout 2/1.

In addition to the Hi-Lo side bet, a typical table will have the following stats:

  • Two decks
  • Dealer stands on soft 17
  • Double down limited to 9, 10, or 11 (all hard)
  • Only one split, including aces.
  • Cannot double after splits
  • No surrender
  • Insurance pays 2/1
  • Blackjack pays 3/2

And of course, playing the over-under side bet massively increases the house edge. For a 2-deck game, the house edge using perfect basic strategy and the side bet is approximately 6.65% (over 13), 7.99% (under 13), +10.08% (exactly 13).

Can you count cards in Hi-Lo-13 Blackjack?

Unfortunately, most online casinos now use Continuous Shuffling Machines (CSMs) at Hi-Lo-13 tables. These shuffle all decks between hands, making it impossible to count cards. Unless players find a casino that isn’t using CSMs (they do exist!) most will tend to stick to classic blackjack.

Classic blackjack has more decks, perhaps, but it also provides the best opportunity to leverage card counting and make a controlled profit.

Play Hi-Lo-13 Blackjack at our top casinos


Hi-Lo-13 Blackjack was specifically designed to bring back the high-low side bet: it was insanely popular for years during the ‘90s and its revival has been lauded by players. A big attraction is the chance to win significant one-off payouts. Where classic blackjack is all about incremental gains, Hi-Lo-13 makes it possible to win twice as much per hand (winning the high-low and beating the dealer) or significantly more with splitting, doubling, and the ‘exactly 13’ bet.

But for more experienced players, there’s also the potential for leveraging the European-style rules for card counting. As long as the casino isn’t using continuous shuffling, the small number of decks makes for perfect counting conditions.

Hi-Lo-13 Blackjack is also widely available in demo versions at most online casinos. This allows players to practice their gameplay and strategy without risking their cash. Of course, it also makes counting impossible, but advanced players aren’t using demo games anyway.

The one major disadvantage of Hi-Lo-13 is that if players do use the side bet, the house edge leaps up:

  • No side bets – House edge is 0.42%
  • Over 13 bet – 6.65%
  • Under 13 bet – 7.99%
  • Exactly 13 bet – 10.08%

Compared to the typical house edge for classic blackjack, this is huge. However, players use side bets for the excitement and quick profits, and Hi-Lo-13 provides that in abundance! It’s an awesome variation we recommend all our readers try out.

  • Published date: 2020-04-19 09:39
  • Modified date: 2020-04-27 06:01