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Blackjack, Mathematics, Card Counting, Basic Strategy, Ken Uston on CBS 60 Minutes

Blackjack card counting, counting cards with Ken Uston, Edward Thorp book 'Beat the dealer'.

Posted by Mr. T ("Chip") on August 15, 2000; later updates.

I read with great interest your opinions on Ken Uston and Edward Thorp. I am a former professional card counter but I currently make my living at the baccarat tables (with great success). Some of what you say has some reality to it regarding Ken Uston. But, for the most part you're off base. He did work for the casino at the end of his life, but not for the reasons you imply. I witnessed Kenny play many, many times. He was simply the greatest. Whatever point you are making about John Scarne would seem to be moot since he has long been deceased and can't possibly know what anyone including Thorp has done since.

But, despite that, everyone can only agree that Uston was named Blackjack Player of the Century by Blackjack Confidential Magazine. His playing ability was highlighted in a segment of CBS's 60 Minutes with Harry Reasoner sitting next to him at Caesar's in Atlantic City and watching him kill them on national television. It was mainly due to Thorp and Uston that the casino industry changed the rules of the game of blackjack. I was there the day they changed the game following a court decision. It can be related to the Wilt Chamberlain effect on basketball by having the lanes widened due to him.

So I suggest you keep those things in mind and respect them until such time as you are named lottery and/or roulette player of the century or have the rules of those games changed due to your impact upon them.

Good luck with your numbers.

Blackjack card counting system by Ken Uston does NOT work – it is a legend.

A Note by Ion Saliu, Founder of Gambling Mathematics

Axiomatic one, blackjack card counting as devised by Edward O. Thorp is a footnote to gambling history now. It offered a slight advantage in one-deck games, one player against the dealer only, and mostly towards the end of the card 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. Suppose there are just 6 distinct cards remaining. Total possible sequences: 6! = 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6 = 720.

John Scarne put jokingly the advantage of card counting. Suppose there is a one-deck blackjack game with 100% penetration (i.e. all cards are dealt). The player tracked the entire deck absolutely precisely. There are 5 cards remaining in the deck: 3 eights and 2 sevens. The player would bet the maximum immediately (actually, millions if it were possible!)

There is NO way the player could lose. The player would always stay on two cards (it doesn't matter if it is 7+7, or 7+8, or 8+8). On the other hand, the dealer would always bust. It doesn't matter: 7+7 (under 17); draws an 8 and busts. Or, 8+8 (still under 17); draws a 7 and busts. Or, 7+8 = 15 (under 17); either 7 or 8 as the third card would bust the dealer's hand!

You can read much more on my follow-ups to this post.

The tune is the same as in this YouTube video: Federal Lottery

My highest motto is: The TRUTH is above anything and anybody. It explains well why I've been successful in fighting and defeating quite a few cults... and why I've always made sure I do not allow myself into creating a cult. I know, Socrates did the same thing two and a half millennia ago... but I've always acknowledged that Socrates was my role model. That guy who was admired and viciously hated in Athens... he paid with his life, while I'm sure I will live and kick up until natural causes will bring me to... Neverland, where Socrates reigns supreme (kidding!)

Gambling is all about streaks — the foundation of gambling mathematics, blackjack included. Software names: Streaks, Blackjack. You might want to take a closer look at the entire collection of blackjack software I've written.

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Read mathematical analysis of casino blackjack card counting, legend and blackjack mathematics.

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Edward Thorp tried to write blackjack math with card counting, counting cards.


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Ken Uston was just a legend of blackjack, even though he appeared on CBS 60 Minutes.