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The History of Chemin de Fer

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The card game of twenty-one was brought to the U.S. in the 19th century but it was not until the middle of the twentieth century that a technique was created to defeat the house in black jack. This article is going to take a rapid look at the birth of that strategy, Counting Cards.

When betting was authorized in Nevada in 1934, black jack screamed into popularity and was usually wagered on with one or 2 decks. Roger Baldwin published a paper in 1956 which explained how to lower the house advantage based on odds and statistics which was really difficult to understand for people who were not mathematicians.

In '62, Dr. Thorp used an IBM 704 computer to better the mathematical strategy in Baldwin's paper and also developed the first techniques for counting cards. Dr. Ed Thorp wrote a book called "Beat the Dealer" which illustrated card counting techniques and the strategies for lowering the casino edge.

This created a huge increase in twenty-one players at the US casinos who were trying to implement Dr. Thorp's tactics, much to the anxiety of the casinos. The system was not easy to understand and complicated to put into practice and therefore heightened the earnings for the betting houses as more and more folks took to wagering on Blackjack.

However this large increase in profits wasn't to last as the gamblers became more highly developed and more educated and the system was further refined. In the 1980's a bunch of students from MIT made card counting a part of the everyday vocabulary. Since then the casinos have introduced countless methods to thwart players who count cards including but not limited to, more than one deck, shoes, shuffle machines, and rumor has it, sophisticated computer software to read actions and detect "cheaters". While not illegal being caught counting cards will get you blocked from most casinos in Las Vegas.

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