The Origin of Blackjack

January 29th, 2010 by Felix Leave a reply »

The game of Blackjack was introduced to the US in the 1800’s but it wasn’t until the mid twentieth century that a strategy was developed to defeat the casino in Blackjack. This article is going to grab a rapid peak at the birth of that strategy, Card Counting.

When gambling was made legal in the state of Nevada in 1934, twenty-one screamed into recognition and was most commonly wagered on with 1 or 2 decks of cards. Roger Baldwin wrote a dissertation in 1956 which explained how to reduce the casino advantage founded on odds and statistics which was quite complicated for those who were not math experts.

In ‘62, Dr. Ed Thorp used an IBM 704 computer to better the mathematical strategy in Baldwin’s dissertation and also created the first techniques for counting cards. Dr. Thorp wrote a tome called "Beat the Dealer" which illustrated card counting techniques and the practices for reducing the house advantage.

This created a large growth in Blackjack players at the US casinos who were attempting to put into practice Dr. Thorp’s techniques, much to the awe of the casinos. The technique was difficult to comprehend and hard to carry through and therefore expanded the earnings for the casinos as more and more people took to betting on chemin de fer.

However this massive increase in profits wasn’t to continue as the gamblers became more highly developed and more cultivated and the system was further perfected. In the 1980’s a bunch of students from MIT made counting cards a part of the regular vocabulary. Since then the casinos have developed numerous methods to thwart players who count cards including but not limited to, more than one deck, shoes, constant shuffle machines, and rumor has itnow complex computer programs to observe body language and identify "cheaters". While not illegal being caught counting cards will get you banned from many betting houses in vegas.


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