The History of Twenty-One

January 31st, 2010 by Iliana Leave a reply »

The casino game of twenty-one was brought to the U.S. in the 1800’s but it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that a technique was created to defeat the house in chemin de fer. This material is going to take a quick look at the birth of that system, Counting Cards.

When gambling was legitimized in Nevada in 1934, twenty-one sky-rocketed into recognition and was commonly wagered on with one or two decks of cards. Roger Baldwin published a paper in ‘56 which detailed how to lower the casino edge built on odds and performance history which was very bewildering for gamblers who weren’t math experts.

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

This spawned a huge growth in chemin de fer players at the US betting houses who were trying to put into practice Dr. Thorp’s tactics, much to the awe of the casinos. The technique was not easy to understand and hard to implement and thusly increased the profits for the casinos as more and more folks took to gambling on twenty-one.

However this huge increase in profits wasn’t to continue as the gamblers 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 counting cards a part of the everyday vocabulary. Since then the casinos have brought in countless methods to thwart players who count cards including, more than one deck, shoes, shuffle machines, and speculation has itnow sophisticated computer software to read actions and identify "cheaters". While not prohibited being caught counting cards will get you blocked from many brick and mortar casinos in vegas.


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