Edward O. Thorp Professional Blackjack Player

Blackjack School

Every gambling game has its heroes that can be credited with progressing and contributing greatly to the game. Their contributions are so great that the rest of us cannot even imagine what the game would have been like without their involvement.

Edward O. Thorp is such a man. His contribution to the game of blackjack is undeniable and his understanding of the mathematics behind the game and his creation of the first formal blackjack card counting technique have made millions of blackjack players around the world feel immense gratitude towards the man who changed blackjack forever.

Born in Chicago in 1932, Thorp's path to greatness was paved with the help of mathematics. He received a Ph.D. from the University of California in Los Angeles in 1958, and then worked at M.I.T for two years. The following four years, Thorp taught mathematics at New Mexico State University before joining the University of California, where he worked as a professor until 1982.

So what was Thorp's contribution to the world? This question can be answered by anyone who is seriously into the game of blackjack. Why? Well, most professional blackjack players would undoubtedly credit his book 'Beat the Dealer: A Winning Strategy for the Game of Twenty One' as their foremost inspiration. What sets this book apart from the rest? It was the first book to use mathematics to show that blackjack can be conquered by correctly applying card counting.

Thorp's interest in blackjack actually began during his time at M.I.T. He would regularly travel to Las Vegas with one of his colleagues, where he would practice his card counting systems (Simple Point-Count System and Complete Point-Count System). With a bankroll of a staggering $10,000, Thorp travelled to Nevada to prove that these strategies worked. They did, and this is what you can read all about in Thorp's greatest work. This is why it is such a popular read, despite requiring tremendous dedication and skill to master. It is by no means an easy read. Nonetheless, the book has been an absolute gem for those who have managed to master the tactics outlined in it. For example, the MIT Blackjack Team used this book to learn all of the skills they consequently used to find fame and riches.

Casinos had to find ways to combat the rise of skilled players. Like many other legendary players, Thorp soon found himself barred from many venues. This ultimately led to Thorp having to be incredibly creative and imaginative with a range of disguises to hide his identity and allow him to keep making money at the tables.

Thorp's own inspiration came from the Kelly criterion, which Thorp first came across whilst reading J.L. Kelly Jr.'s 1956 paper. He learned Fortran and used IBM 704 to analyse blackjack and come to the conclusions that forever changed the game that is loved by so many today.

However, Thorp's incredible story is not actually limited to blackjack. He has made a fortune by applying his knowledge of statistics and probability to the stock market. Today he is President of Edward O. Thorp & Associates.

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