In 1962 a certain Edward Oakley Thorpe (born in Chicago on August 14, 1932), a Mathematics at the University of New Mexico, published the book “Beat the dealer” in which some gambling strategies were exposed that can ensure a mathematical advantage to the player.
Referring to a study the mathematicians Baldwin, Maisel, and McDermott published in the year 1956 in the “Journal of the American Statistical Association,” Prof. Thorpe proposed in an article published in the official organ of the Washington Mathematical Society in December 1960, a game method based on the “5 count” which ensured a mathematical advantage to the player.
Since then, other systems, also thanks to the advent of electronic calculators, have been developed, some even more effective than the method illustrated Thorpe in his book.
But how is it possible that a game of chance practiced in a casino turns out to be a winner for the player in the long run?
To answer this question, it is necessary to reflect that in blackjack, the odds of each hand are not fixed and immutable as in other games such as roulette but vary continuously.
For example, in roulette at 96ace, each stroke is independent of those that preceded it and those that will follow it, and therefore a number will always have a 1 in 37 chance of coming out. This does not happen in Black Jack because the cards are not returned to the deck, and consequently, the probabilities of getting one point or another are gradually modified.
The player who will use a card counting system will be able to know probabilistically if at a certain point the deck will be favorable to him or not and consequently vary his bets, increasing them when he finds himself having a favorable deck and vice versa bet the minimum when the bunch will be unfavorable for him.
In his book EO Thorpe cites a 100% sure but very significant limit case:
“.. Suppose you are playing with the dealer heads up, i.e., you are the only player at the table. Let’s suppose that you have taken note of the cards that have come out and that you know which are still the cards to play that will be dealt in the next hand, namely: two 7s and four 8.
In this situation, how much do you have to bet?
The answer is: Bet as much as possible and stick around because you will always win.
The dealer will find either two 7s (7,7) or a 7 and an 8 (7,8), or two 8s (8,8). Since his total is less than 17, he will have to roll. If he has two 7s and does not find another 7, he will find an 8, and he will bust, the same thing if he had a 7 and an 8 or two 8. “
This mentioned is an extreme case in which the chances of winning are 100%. Still, the significant advantage for the player is not very rare and can be adequately exploited. How? With card counting, bet more when the deck is in our favor (in jargon, it is called “loaded deck”).