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The Beginnings of Black Jack

Written by Brady. No comments Posted in: Blackjack

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The card game of black jack was brought to the U.S. in the 1800’s but it was not until the mid 20th century that a system was developed to beat the house in black jack. This article is going to grab a rapid look at the creation of that strategy, Counting Cards.

When betting was approved in the state of Nevada in ‘34, chemin de fer sky-rocketed into popularity and was commonly bet on with one or 2 decks of cards. Roger Baldwin wrote a dissertation in ‘56 which described how to lower the casino advantage founded on odds and performance history which was quite bewildering for those who weren’t math experts.

In ‘62, Dr. Thorp used an IBM 704 computer to better the mathematical strategy in Baldwin’s paper and also developed the first tactics for counting cards. Dr. Thorp authored a book called "Beat the Dealer" which detailed card counting techniques and the practices for lowering the house advantage.

This created a huge increase in black jack gamblers at the US betting houses who were trying to implement Dr. Ed Thorp’s strategies, much to the alarm of the casinos. The system was challenging to comprehend and complicated to implement and thusly improved the profits for the betting houses as more and more people took to gambling on Blackjack.

However this huge increase in profits wasn’t to continue as the players became more refined and more educated and the system was further improved. In the 80’s a bunch of students from MIT made card counting a part of the everyday vocabulary. Since then the casinos have introduced numerous measures to counteract card counters including, multiple decks, shoes, shuffle machines, and gossip has it, sophisticated computer programs to read body language and detect "cheaters". While not against the law being discovered counting cards will get you blocked from most betting houses in vegas.

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