Grandfather of Winning Blackjack

February 8th, 2017
Back Grandfather of Winning Blackjack

Make no mistake about it.While Edward O. Thorp is the grandfather of all winning blackjack systems, a new strategist is in town who has developed a method of making a profit on those horrendous eight-deck shoes.

Thorp was the math professor at UCLA who developed a basic strategy for winning at blackjack in the 1950s. He used one of the few computers then available to create his system, playing hundreds of thousands of hands on a huge computer the Southern California university had at his disposal.

The university teacher wrote a best-seller book, 'Beat The Dealer,' that sold millions of copies world-wide. At first, casino owners scoffed at the thought that anyone could beat the game. But as more and more players walked away with profits, they saw the light and changed the rules.

Today very few casinos offer single-deck blackjack. I saw one or two games at Binion's Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas, but most casinos have six and eight-deck shoes from which the cards are dealt.


Thorp didn't flinch when Las Vegas changed the rules. He did more research and came up with a more involved system of counting cards to determine when a player should increase his bet. He still used his basic strategy, and his new counting system increased a player's probability of winning a wager.

However, since 'Beat The Dealer' was published in the mid-1950s, many other blackjack players have written books on how to win at 21 or blackjack. Most of the books are pale imitations of Dr. Thorp's best-seller. But an author named Bryce Carlson came up with an advanced counting system and published a book, 'Blackjack For Blood.'

His system was different from Thorp's. It assigned a different number to the various cards in a deck to shift the advantage from the House to the player. Deuces and treys were given +1; fours, fives and sixes were given +2; sevens were given +1; eights were given 0; nines, +1; 10s, jacks, and queens, -2; and aces were given zero.

To benefit from this system, players must practice counting backwards as the cards are dealt. After training, it is relatively easy to keep up with the card count as the dealer tosses out the cards.


The higher the count, the greater are your chances for winning as long as you adhere to the basic strategy. Since there are 32 aces in an eight-deck shoe, it also helps greatly if there are more aces remaining in the deck since a blackjack pays 3-2 to the winner.

Here is the basic strategy that must be used along with the card counting. Double down on nine, 10, 11, or A-5, A-6, A-7, A-8 or A-9 when the dealer shows a bust card. Split eights. Stay on 17 (unless it is a soft 17) when the dealer is showing seven, eight, nine, or ace. Hit a soft 17 when a dealer shows nine, 10, or ace.

Like poker, blackjack is a skill game that can become quite profitable to a knowledgeable player. It can become quite taxing to count those cards and you shouldn't play too long before taking a rest.

Before you start playing blackjack, I suggest you find a copy of 'Poker For Blood' and give the book a real study. Get a deck of cards, deal out several hands (including one for the dealer), and test your card-counting ability.

“Bryce Carlson came up with an advanced counting system”

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