Blackjack was derived from the French game vingt-et-un or twenty-one. Until about the mid 1950’s, it was believed that the game was alot like baccarat and the house had the edge because the player played first.
In 1956, a paper was published by Baldwin, Cantey, Maisel, and McDermott in the “Journal of the American Statistical Association” laying out a set of recommendations for the play of the game, these recommendations were very close to today’s basic strategy. The following year, they published a manual for the public with this system of play, but it attracted little interest until, Edward O. Thorp(PhD), saw the paper and understood that there were parts of the game that had been missed in the past. The first being that the composition of the deck changed with each card dealt, also, some combinations of the remaining cards favored the house and others favored the players.
In 1962, Dr. Thorp published his now famous book, “Beat the Dealer”, which contained a simple yet profound message that decks of cards have memory. Each hand is dependent on the makeup of the deck at that time and by paying attention to the cards already played, the player can almost predict what will be appearing in the deck next.
The Blackjack Computer
With the help of a computer, Thorp did a statistical analysis called the Monte Carlo simulation and discovered that 10’s and Aces remaining in the deck put the player at an advantage, while 5’s and 6’s being left in the deck put the dealer at an advantage. Thus, card counting was born.
If the player could keep track of the cards left in the deck, they could decide how to bet on each hand. For example, if there are many 10’s and aces left they would be smart to bet high, and if there are lots of fives and sixes left they might want to bet low