The Hi Opt 1 and 2 Blackjack Card Counting System

The Hi Opt 1 System is also known as the Einstein Count because it was created by Charles Einstein in 1968. Charles is an unlikely Blackjack expert. Most creators of Blackjack card counting systems have extensive backgrounds in mathematics, but Charles was more of a writer than anything else. That doesn’t mean that the Hi Opt 1 System is inferior though. It is highly accurate but you will have to work pretty hard to get the most out of this count system. If you are experienced with the Hi Lo System you will have a much easier time adapting to the Hi Opt 1 Count. Concentrating can be difficult at a Blackjack table, especially if you are playing with talkative players.

I usually scope out the Blackjack tables and take note of the various atmospheres. It is always best to avoid tables with one or more intoxicated players since they can easily break your concentration which will result is messing up your count. In 1970 another Blackjack expert named Lance Humble improved the Hi Opt 1 System and named it the Hi Opt 2 System. Once you have finished learning how this count system works you may want to check out the Hi Opt 2 count method. It is a little more accurate but it is also a little more difficult.

How To Use The Hi Opt 1 Count Blackjack System

The Hi Opt 1 System gives each card rank a number, either -1, 0- or +1. Some Blackjack card counting systems use fractions or fairly large numbers so the Hi Opt 1 Count is relatively simple as far as the running count goes. You will use the chart below for your running count.

High Opt 1
Aces are valued at zero so using the Hi Opt 1 System requires some extra work. Aces are obviously very important cards so counting them on the side is important. In a six deck shoe there will be 24 Aces. If 9 Aces have been played after three decks have been used that gives you an advantage. Side counting Aces will help you when it comes time to increase your wager when the true count indicates an advantage to the player.

When using the Hi Opt 1 System you will not base the size of your bets on the running count. You will have to figure out what the true count is. To do this you have to divide your current running count by the number of unused decks in the shoe. Asking the dealer how many cards are left is obviously out of the question so you will have to estimate. If there is around two decks left in the shoe and your running count for the previous hand ended at +4 what would your running count be after the following hand:

  • Player 1: 6h-9s- 2c
  • Player 2: Qc-4s
  • Player 3: 5s-3d-Ah
  • You: 7c-Kd
  • Dealer: 3s-8d-9c

If you guessed +7 for the running count you would be correct. The Hi Opt 1 System true count would therefore be +3.5, giving you a very respectable advantage. Determining how much to increase your wager by isn’t an exact science. Obviously whenever the true count is a positive number you have an advantage but you should be aware of the fact that it does not mean you will definitely win each hand. Blackjack card counting systems like the Hi Opt 1 Count give you a small edge over players that do not count cards. If your true count is +7 that doesn’t mean you should wager the rest of your bankroll. The house edge can swing from around .5% against you to .5% with you, but this is still a very small edge. Practicing bankroll management is important in Blackjack and using a count system doesn’t change that. Some Blackjack players will wager over 10X their base bet when the true count is +5. In the +3.5 situation listed above I would likely increase my wager by 3 times. You will have to develop your own formula for increasing and decreasing your wagers. You should always be aware of the fact that dealers, pit bosses and casino security experts are on the lookout for blatant card counting and the number tell is changing the amount of money you bet.

The Hi Opt 2 Blackjack Card Counting System

Lance Humble developed an improved version of Charles Einstein’s Hi Opt 1 System. Lance’s Hi Opt 2 System is more accurate than the original Hi Opt Count, but the increased accuracy is complemented by increased complexity. I wouldn’t suggest the Hi Opt 2 System to anyone without considerable experience with card counting in Blackjack. Lance co-authored the book The World’s Greatest Blackjack Book with fellow Blackjack strategist Carl Cooper which was published in 1980. The Hi Opt 2 System is still used by some players today, and is considered one of the most accurate count methods. The Hi Opt 2 System is best suited to experienced Blackjack card counters who are naturally gifted with a great memory and with the ability to make quick calculations on the fly. For those that master this system the benefits are readily apparent at the tables.

How To Use The Hi Opt 2 Blackjack Count System

There are two essential aspects of the Hi Opt 2 System; the running count and the true count. The running count is more complex than some other systems but isn’t too hard to implement. The card values range from -2 to +2. Aces are not given a value so it is recommended that you keep a side count for them. For the best results you should also keep a side count of eights and nines. The Aces side count is the most important of the three, but if you are able to accurately side count each of them while maintaining your running count you will enjoy extremely accurate results. Here is a chart for the card values used in the Hi Opt 2 System.

High Opt 2
The running count and three side counts seems like it should be enough to determine if you have an edge, but there is one more calculation that you have to make in order to get the most out of this system: the true count. To determine what the Hi Opt 2 System true count is you will divide your current running count by the number of decks left in the shoe. Counting the number of played cards in order to determine how many decks are left is not necessary. You can estimate how many decks remain. This may not seem very dependable, but it gets much easier over time. If you are at a table with 4 decks remaining and a true count of +5 what would the true count be after the following hand?

  • Player 1: 4c-8d- 3h
  • Player 2: Jc-4s
  • Player 3: 5h-3d-10h
  • You: 7s-10d
  • Dealer: 3s-8c-9c

Your running count would be +9 and your true count would be +2.25. True counts will rarely be whole numbers so rounding them is a commonly used practice. A true count of +2 means that you have an advantage over the dealer and you should increase the size of your bet on the next hand. The Hi Opt 2 System does not specify how much you should increase your bet, but most people will simply make a 100% increase for each number in the true count. If you regularly bet $5 per hand a +1 true count would call for a $10 wager and a +2 would call for a $15 wager. In rare situations the true count will be quite high. While this is always good for the player it doesn’t mean that you should bet half of your bankroll on a single hand.

The side counts for eights, nines and Aces should influence the size of your bet when the true count reflects an advantage. You do not have to count the eights and nines separately though. Combining them, into one side count will really make things easier.