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History of Blackjack Card Counting

Blackjack Card Counting may have existed before Dr Edward Thorp came onto the scene in 1962 but if it did, it was pretty basic and rudimentary and not worth even talking about.

With the publishing of his breakthrough book, Beat the Dealer, Thorp took Blackjack card counting to a level never before seen. Beat the Dealer was so popular it even appeared in the New York Time's best seller list. Thorp laid out the basic betting and playing strategies players should employ for maximum success.

The book spelled out the Hi-lo card counting system which is the most basic of Blackjack card counting systems. The Hi-Lo system allows the player to keep track of the cards and adjust his betting patterns accordingly to record maximum winnings.

Thorp used computers to prove that some cards were advantageous to the player while others were better for the dealer. After taking into calculation the cards which had already been played, one could work out what was left. If that gave the play an advantage they could raise their bet and increase their winnings. The casinos were stunned and were forced to act and they did so by changing the rules of blackjack which forced players to revolt. Eventually the reverted back to the original blackjack rules but did introduce multiple shoes and threw out anyone who was caught counting.

One of the most successful early card counters was Ken Uston. Uston is one of the biggest names in card counting history and much of that is due to his appearance on 60 Minutes which made him a world famous figure.

Uston was a card counting of great skill and invented a Blackjack card counting technique called Team Play. This involved players being sent to many different blackjack tables at once and working out where the best table is. Once this happens they all converge to this table. This method netted Uston’s consortium around three million dollars which was the most successful Blackjack card counting operation to date in the history of card counting.

A key moment in the History of Blackjack Card Counting was the growing accessibility and power of computers. In the 70s and 80s, blackjack card counting became even more popular as a result of this. Card counters had the computer power they never previously had. This allowed them to reduce errors and increase winnings.

Students at the famous MIT college (often being referred to as the "MIT Blackjack Team") also decided to try to attempt card counting. Thomas Hyland, known as the King of Card Counting is another central figure in the History of Card Counting. He assembled a crack team of card counters and they set aim at casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and the Bahamas. Eventually the casinos got hold of them and they were all banned from the casinos.

Another big name in the history of card counting is Julian Braun. The IBM technician used the IBM super-computers to create a optimal blackjack card counting system.

The rest of Blackjack Card counting history is a game of cat and mouse between the card counters and the casino. The card counters try to stay one step ahead of the casino while the casino is always trying to catch the card counters. You don’t need to be a mathematical genius to be a successful Blackjack card counter, you just need concentration and focus. Because you are not tracking every card in the shoe, rather you are just maintaining a rough count of what is left in the shoe.

Andrew Sanders - Managing Editor