The Origin of Black Jack

[ English ]

The game of Blackjack was brought to the United States in the 19th century but it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that a strategy was developed to defeat the house in Blackjack. This article is going to take a swift peak at the creation of that strategy, Counting Cards.

When wagering was made legal in Nevada in 1934, twenty-one screamed into recognition and was most commonly wagered on with one or 2 decks of cards. Roger Baldwin published a dissertation in ‘56 which described how to reduce the house advantage based on odds and statistics which was quite confusing for those who were not math experts.

In ‘62, Dr. Thorp utilized an IBM 704 computer to better the mathematical strategy in Baldwin’s paper and also developed the 1st card counting strategies. Dr. Ed Thorp authored a book called "Beat the Dealer" which illustrated card counting strategies and the tactics for lowering the house edge.

This spawned a huge increase in chemin de fer gamblers at the US betting houses who were trying to implement Dr. Ed Thorp’s strategies, much to the amazement of the casinos. The system was hard to comprehend and hard to put into practice and therefore improved the profits for the betting houses as more and more people took to playing black jack.

However this huge growth in earnings wasn’t to last as the gamblers became more sophisticated and more educated and the system was further improved. In the 80’s a group of students from MIT made counting cards a part of the day-to-day vernacular. Since then the casinos have brought in countless measures to thwart players who count cards including, multiple decks, shoes, shuffle machines, and rumor has it, sophisticated computer programs to scrutinize actions and detect "cheaters". While not illegal being discovered counting cards will get you banned from the majority of betting houses in Las Vegas.

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