The Beginnings of Black Jack

The game of black jack was introduced to the U.S. in the 19th century but it was not until the middle of the twentieth century that a technique was created to beat the casino in twenty-one. This article is going to grab a rapid peak at the creation of that system, Card Counting.

When wagering was authorized in Nevada in ‘34, twenty-one sky-rocketed into universal appeal and was commonly gambled on with one or 2 decks. Roger Baldwin wrote a dissertation in ‘56 which described how to lower the house edge built on probability and stats which was very difficult to understand for people who weren’t mathematicians.

In 1962, Dr. Ed Thorp utilized an IBM 704 computer to enhance the mathematical strategy in Baldwin’s dissertation and also developed the first tactics for card counting. Dr. Ed Thorp wrote a book called "Beat the Dealer" which detailed card counting techniques and the practices for reducing the casino edge.

This spawned a huge increase in chemin de fer players at the US betting houses who were trying to put into practice Dr. Thorp’s techniques, much to the anxiety of the casinos. The technique was challenging to comprehend and complicated to execute and therefore heightened the profits for the betting houses as more and more people took to betting on black jack.

However this large increase in profits wasn’t to last as the gamblers became more sophisticated and more aware and the system was further refined. In the 1980’s a bunch of students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology made card counting a part of the everyday vernacular. Since then the casinos have introduced countless measures to thwart card counters including, more than one deck, shoes, constant shuffle machines, and rumour has itnow sophisticated computer software to read body language and detect "cheaters". While not against the law being caught counting cards will get you barred from the majority of casinos in vegas.

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