The History of Twenty-One

[ English ]

The game of chemin de fer was introduced to the United States of America in the 1800’s but it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that a system was developed to beat the casino in chemin de fer. This material is going to grab a rapid look at the birth of that system, Card Counting.

When wagering was legitimized in the state of Nevada in 1934, Blackjack sky-rocketed into universal appeal and was commonly wagered on with 1 or 2 decks of cards. Roger Baldwin wrote a paper in ‘56 which detailed how to lower the casino advantage based on odds and stats which was quite bewildering for people who weren’t mathematicians.

In 1962, Dr. Edward O. Thorp utilized an IBM 704 computer to refine the mathematical strategy in Baldwin’s dissertation and also created the 1st card counting techniques. Dr. Thorp wrote a book called "Beat the Dealer" which summarized card counting strategies and the tactics for reducing the casino edge.

This created a massive increase in black jack gamblers at the US betting houses who were attempting to implement Dr. Thorp’s techniques, much to the anxiety of the casinos. The strategy was hard to understand and hard to put into practice and thusly increased the profits for the betting houses as more and more people took to playing black jack.

However this large increase in profits was not to continue as the players became more sophisticated and more insightful and the system was further refined. In the 1980’s a group of students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology made counting cards a part of the regular vernacular. Since then the casinos have developed countless methods to counteract card counters including but not limited to, multiple decks, shoes, shuffle machines, and speculation has itnow sophisticated computer programs to scrutinize actions and identify "cheaters". While not prohibited being discovered counting cards will get you barred from the majority of betting houses in vegas.

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