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The Origin of Black Jack

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The casino game of chemin de fer was brought to the U.S. in the 1800’s but it wasn’t until the middle of the twentieth century that a technique was developed to defeat the house in twenty-one. This material is going to take a quick look at the creation of that strategy, Card Counting.

When betting was legalized in the state of Nevada in ‘34, black jack sky-rocketed into universal appeal and was commonly wagered on with 1 or two decks. Roger Baldwin published a paper in 1956 which detailed how to lower the house advantage built on probability and statistics which was really complicated for gamblers who were not mathematicians.

In ‘62, Dr. Thorp used an IBM 704 computer to enhance the mathematical strategy in Baldwin’s dissertation and also created the first techniques for card counting. Dr. Ed Thorp authored a tome called "Beat the Dealer" which outlined card counting techniques and the strategies for reducing the house edge.

This spawned a massive increase in black jack players at the US betting houses who were trying to implement Dr. Thorp’s tactics, much to the confusion of the casinos. The system was hard to comprehend and hard to carry through and therefore heightened the profits for the betting houses as more and more folks took to gambling on Blackjack.

However this massive growth in profits was not to last as the players became more sophisticated and more educated 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 regular vocabulary. Since then the casinos have brought in numerous methods to counteract card counters including, multiple decks, shoes, constant shuffle machines, and rumor has itnow sophisticated computer software to scrutinize body language and detect "cheaters". While not prohibited being discovered counting cards will get you banned from the majority of betting houses in vegas.