The Highly Optimum card counting system was originally designed in 1968 by Charles Einstein. Einstein was obviously influenced by the work of Edward O. Thorp, who wrote the definitive blackjack book on card counting titled Beat The Dealer. Einstein sought to improve upon the Thorp’s Hi-Lo method of counting and the Highly Optimum method was born. It soon became known as the Einstein Count in honor of its creator.
The Einstein Count was later refined by Lance Humble and Carl Cooper into the system we know today as Hi-Opt I. Humble and Cooper took the concepts of Charles Einstein and tweaked them to produce what remains to be a very popular and effective card counting system.
How The Hi-Opt I Works
In practice, the Hi-Opt I is based on the general principles of card counting. The system is used to develop a running count which helps the player to determine the appropriate bet size. When the running count is high (+2, +3, +4), bets are increased. When the running count drops into a negative zone (-1, -2, -3), the bet size is reduced.
The Hi-Opt I is also a balanced count. This means that the count begins at 0 and should also end at 0 when all of the cards have been dealt from the shoe. You can easily practice the Hi-Opt I at home and determine if you have performed it correctly by achieving a total of 0 when all of the cards have been dealt. In live play this is most often impossible because all of the cards in the shoe never make it into play. You should practice at home until you are confident you can apply the Hi-Opt I in a live situation.
The primary difference between the Hi-Opt I and the Hi-Lo system developed by Edward Thorp is the values assigned to the aces and twos in the deck. Here are the point values given to each card in the Hi-Opt I:
What you will notice right away is that there are an equal number of +1 and -1 cards. This is beneficial because it simplifies the process of counting cards in live play. When using the Hi-Opt I system these cards offset or cancel one another out. This can make it easier to maintain the running count of the Hi-Opt I.
The Hi-Opt I True Count
The thing that makes the Hi-Opt I a little difficult to master is something known as the true count. Learning how to apply the true count in Hi-Opt I gives the system a powerful punch. You can use the Hi-Opt I without it, but your edge will increase when you use the true count. It requires a little mathematics and practice but the extra effort is worth it.
To determine the true count of a deck you must divide the running count by the number of cards which remain in the deck. This is best done by approximating the fractional percentage of cards remaining. In a double deck game it works like this: let’s assume the running count is +4. You determine that approximately half of the cards in the deck have been played. You then divide 4 (the running count) by the remaining percentage of the deck in play (50%) and arrive at a true count of +2.
It sounds difficult to use when you play casino blackjack , and it can be challenging for the beginner. It is best to stick with the Hi-Opt I running count until you have thoroughly practiced arriving at the true count.
Aces In The Hi-Opt I
The Hi-Opt I does not require you to keep a separate count of the aces, but if you add this element into the Hi-Opt I the system becomes more powerful. Once again, we advise you to practice maintaining a side count of the aces until you are comfortable that your skills will hold up in live play.
Summing Up The Hi-Opt I
If you are looking for a system that takes the Hi-Lo count a little bit farther, the Hi-Opt I is the way to go. It tweaks the value of the cards and also incorporates the true count to increase the efficiency of the method. While the Hi-Opt I system takes longer to learn and perfect, the potential return on your blackjack investment is greater than it is with many other systems.
Counting Edge recommends the Hi-Opt I counting system for those who have a basic understanding of card counting at blackjack. It is not recommended for beginning card counters.