Card counting is an advanced strategy employed by experienced blackjack players to gain an edge against casinos. This technique involves keeping track of cards that have been dealt and estimating their likelihood in future hands.
This technique has been employed for decades, leading to many famous blackjack players such as Edward Thorp and the MIT Blackjack Team, as well as legal battles that Ken Uston waged over its use.
Edward Thorp, an eminent mathematics professor, hedge fund manager, and New York Times best-selling author first demonstrated mathematically that blackjack could be defeated in 1962 with his book Beat the Dealer, prompting uproar within casinos as well as legal battles between casinos and players. Thorp also invented wearable computers and revolutionized investing through quantitative methods.
This collection contains academic papers, drafts of Thorp’s columns for Wilmott and Gambling Times, research material and correspondence. Thorp used his IBM 704 as a research tool to investigate probabilities of winning while developing blackjack theory and card counting schemes; additionally, he taught himself programming using workbooks before eventually mastering Fortran programming language.
Thorp’s work is widely credited with initiating a boom in blackjack, although its popularity has since been overtaken by baccarat which provides casinos with three times as much profit per table than blackjack. His legal victories further established card counting as an effective strategy.
The MIT Blackjack Team
Card counting is one of the most effective blackjack strategies, and a tried-and-true way to beat casinos. But it must be remembered that card counting cannot guarantee success; its limitations must also be acknowledged so as not to trigger detection in casinos.
Bill Kaplan and JP Massar brought together students with an interest in gambling who were mathematically adept to form the MIT Blackjack Team in 1977. Kaplan utilized his mathematical expertise to devise numerous playing strategies and management techniques which greatly increased team success.
The team eventually expanded to 30 members and generated thousands of dollars with every trip they took to Las Vegas, using both word of mouth and flyers to recruit players. Over time, The MIT Blackjack Team gained a reputation for its success while intimidating casino managers.
After Strategic Investments disbanded, several team members formed separate independent groups led by Semyon Dukach (Big Player), Kaite Lilienkamp (Controller), and Andy Bloch (Spotter). Each of these had million dollar bankrolls with over 50 players involved – they proved quite adept at extracting funds from casinos.
Counting cards is legal
Card counting is an advanced strategy used by experienced blackjack players that involves keeping track of the ratio between high cards and low cards in a deck, giving them a small edge against casinos when competing in blackjack games. Casinos regard card counting as cheating and have taken steps to prevent its usage.
Card counting in blackjack is not illegal; however, casinos can ban players they suspect of doing it as it reduces margins and profits of casinos. Legal card counting involves no external devices or assistance and therefore should remain unimpeded.
Card counting may seem like an illegal practice in Nevada or elsewhere; however, it does not violate any laws or constitute any form of discrimination since it does not take into account race, religion, or political affiliation when employed as a technique to count cards. Some casinos have banned skilled players who employ hidden cameras or electronic devices in order to count cards more efficiently.
Counting cards is not legal
As blackjack counting strategies become more sophisticated, casinos respond with various anti-countering measures, including increasing deck use and frequent shuffling to try and detect counters; banning skilled players; picking up on betting patterns which indicate skillful card counters – making it hard for card counters to conceal their counting from casinos.
Card counting may not technically be illegal, but casinos frown upon it as it reduces their house edge and profits, and can result in public distrust of casinos. Many also find it offensive that card counters violate the spirit of play – unlike discrimination on grounds of race, religion or political affiliation; bannable card counters do not violate civil rights laws in casinos.