Hi Opt 2 System for Card Counting

Created in the 1970s from a tweaked Hi Opt 1 method by Lance Humble, the Hi Opt 2 method is more advanced and accurate, but also more difficult to learn. Not only does it maintain the side-count of Aces that is a part of Hi Opt 1, but it incorporates side-counts of 8's and 9's as well. While the difficulty level of the Hi Opt 2 is higher, it's also considered one of the most powerful card counting systems in existence.

All of this means that the Hi Opt 2 method is a multi-level system. There are four simultaneous counts you must keep track of during a game, plus a true count conversion that must be made when playing multiple deck games. All those counts, though, make for a very accurate method of tracking player's advantage in a blackjack game.

How Hi Opt 2 System Works

In the Hi Opt 2 system, 8's, 9's, and Aces are assigned values of 0, making them neutral cards. However, though they don't affect the running count, each of these cards must be tracked with a side count. Here are all the values:

Hi-Lo Card Point Values
2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10        A
+1        +1        +2        +2       +1      +1          0          0          -2         0

This makes a running count look like the following:

  • 1st card is a 10, so the count is -2.
  • 2nd card is a 4, so the count becomes 0.
  • 3rd card is a 2, so the count becomes 1.

Hi Opt 2 isn't for the faint of heart. It's a very complicated system. You must not only keep a running count in your head (and convert it to a true count on the fly in multi-deck games), but also keep side counts of the 8's, 9's, and Aces that have been dealt. Before even learning how to bet through the Hi Opt 2 system, you must familiarize yourself with the counts. The best way to go about this is by taking a single deck of cards, going through it one card at a time, and practicing the counts. It may take several practice rounds before you master the running count, let alone the side counts. Hi Opt 2 is a balanced system, though, so after running through an entire deck the count should return to 0.

For figuring out the true count, you'll need to take the running count and divide it by the estimated number of decks left to be dealt. So if you estimate there are three decks left to be played in the shoe and the running count is 9, the true count comes out to 3.

Once you feel comfortable with your counting ability, you can use the basic betting scheme, based on betting units equal to the table minimum, in your games. Here's a table for a basic betting strategy:

                                                                Betting units
True Count                                                  2 Decks                                                   6-8 Decks
0 or less                                                       1 unit                                                       1 unit
 +1                                                               2 units                                                     2 units
 +2                                                               3 units                                                     4 units
 +3                                                               4 units                                                     8 units
 +4                                                               5 units                                                    10 units
 +5 or more                                                 6 units                                                    12 units

The 8's, 9's, and Aces counts keep in-depth track of your advantage at the table. The side counts increase each time one of their respective neutral cards are played. When you've got the hang of all the counting, you'll be able to adjust your betting strategies more accurately and, hopefully, win a bit more money!

Books About the Hi Opt 2 Card Counting Method

Play Blackjack Like the Pros, by Kevin Blackwood, provides an in-depth look at blackjack in general and centers on Hi Opt 2 card counting specifically. Hi Opt 2 is best undertaken by more advanced Blackjack players, but this book is a great start for anyone that wants to learn this powerful form of card counting.