# Blackjack Card Counting System by Mathematics Professor Edward Thorp of IBM Fame

Posted by Shirley Ann Jennings - SAJA '55 (actually, "Chip") on August 03, 2000.

I have tried to do some research to pass on to everyone regarding Edward Thorp (blackjack card counting) and found the data that follows which is some of the basis of Chip's comments to you. Please allow everyone to have a chance to see it. SAJA

Chapter 3

Card-counting is an advanced gambling tool, which could in theory give a player the advantage in almost any card game. Card-counting at blackjack was developed in the 1950s by Dr Edward Thorp. Professor Thorp is a character so extraordinary that had he not really lived, then as a character of fiction his exploits would have been dismissed as far-fetched. Unquestionably the greatest mind ever to turn his attention to gambling, Thorp has made small fortunes at blackjack, roulette, and sports betting; he also pioneered the incredibly successful "warrant-hedging" technique on the greatest gambling game of all, the stock market. Over \$65 billion have passed through his hands over the last few decades, and his personal fortune can only be guessed at. He is without doubt the most successful gambler who has ever lived. All of this was due to an extraordinary ability to understand the mathematics of gambling games and devise practical systems to bend chance to his will.

Experimenting with the game of blackjack, Thorp discovered that when you remove certain cards from the deck, this alters the house advantage. He also found that a player could sometimes have the advantage over the house. For example, removing all the 5's from a deck puts the odds in the player's favor. These favorable situations are outnumbered by unfavorable ones. And so, on average, an unskilled player would lose more than he wins. But, Thorp discovered, if the player knows when he has the advantage, he can bet more than when the house has the advantage, and so win more money than he loses.

Thorp constructed his highly successful ten-count system, with which he won many thousands of dollars from the casinos at blackjack. They retaliated with a series of countermeasures designed to thwart the "Counters", the disciples who read Thorp's bestselling "Beat the Dealer" and tried their own luck with his gambling system. There are still some professional card-counters around today, although the casinos are wise to the danger and bar any blackjack player they suspect is counting cards.

### Ion Saliu's note

Card counting, as devised by Edward Thorp is a footnote to gambling history now. It offered a slight advantage in one-deck games, one player against the dealer only, and especially towards the end of the deck. Ideally, a player could destroy the blackjack game IF knowing the composition of the deck AND the sequence of the remaining cards in the deck. The latter part is the REAL problem: Nobody will ever be able to know the SEQUENCE of the remaining cards in the deck.

I went to the extreme in programming a blackjack application to play online or against the computer. The program provided what I call total blackjack card count. The count alone does NOT offer winning the game of blackjack automatically. Again, the staggering amount of card sequences is insurmountable, critically axiomatic colleague of mine.

My blackjack software (2009) calculates the odds of dealer busting in the most accurate mathematical fashion. You will notice undeniably that 10 followed by 6 occurs equally to 6 followed by 10. See my answer and a screenshot of the blackjack software in the follow-up: Blackjack card-counting devised by Edward Thorp is a footnote to gambling history.

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