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The History of Black Jack

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The game of twenty-one was brought to the United States in the 1800’s but it wasn’t until the mid 20th century that a system was created to defeat the house in black jack. This material is going to grab a swift peak at the birth of that strategy, Card Counting.

When casino gambling was authorized in the state of Nevada in ‘34, Blackjack sky-rocketed into popularity and was most commonly wagered on with 1 or 2 decks. Roger Baldwin wrote a paper in ‘56 which described how to reduce the house edge based on probability and statistics which was quite difficult to understand for gamblers who were not math experts.

In 1962, Dr. Thorp used 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 authored a book called "Beat the Dealer" which summarized card counting strategies and the practices for reducing the house edge.

This created a huge growth in black jack gamblers at the US betting houses who were attempting to implement Dr. Ed Thorp’s tactics, much to the consternation of the casinos. The technique was not easy to understand and difficult to execute and thusly elevated the profits for the casinos as more and more people took to betting on twenty-one.

However this massive increase in profits wasn’t to continue as the players became more highly developed and more aware and the system was further perfected. In the 1980’s a bunch of students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology made counting cards a part of the everyday vocabulary. Since then the casinos have brought in countless measures to thwart players who count cards including, multiple decks, shoes, constant shuffle machines, and speculation has it, complex computer software to analyze actions and identify "cheaters". While not against the law being caught counting cards will get you barred from all betting houses in Las Vegas.

Posted in Blackjack.

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