Inducted in 2008
One of the “Four Horsemen of Aberdeen”, Baldwin is credited with creating the first accurate blackjack strategy while serving in the US Army in the mid 1950s.
Baldwin had a master’s degree in mathematics from Columbia University. He first started thinking about the mathematics behind the game of blackjack while playing with buddies in the barracks as he served as a private in the Army.
He started working out a few formulas by hand, but soon got permission to use one of the Army’s calculators to keep moving forward with his work. He then teamed up with the other “Horsemen” to complete the strategy, which was eventually published as an 11-page article called “The Optimum Strategy in Blackjack” in the September 1956 edition of the Journal of the American Statistical Association.
These four mathematical geniuses worked in their spare time using pens, paper, and simple calculators to come up with the first mathematically-sound blackjack advice ever produced.
The Four Horsemen’s strategy, contained the first legitimate card-counting system, and though they didn’t realize it at the time, this was the original blackjack strategy that gave a player an advantage over the house, playing a flat bet.
Although the Four Horsemen were never widely known by the public, blackjack aficionados and professional players have always revered the four mathematicians as legends.
The four mathematicians provided Thorp with all of their data in 1958, which ultimately led to the publication of Thorp’s Beat the Dealer in 1962.
Here are some quotes about the Four Horsemen from the members of the Blackjack Hall of Fame:
“I must have heard a thousand different players tell someone at a blackjack table ‘The book says this’ or “The book says that.’ These guys are the book.”
“When I first read the 1957 article they wrote that appeared in the Journal of the American Statistical Association with an accurate basic strategy, I couldn’t fathom how they had accomplished this using desk calculators. It just seemed impossible.”
“Without these guys, none of us would even be here.”