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Beat the Dealer by Edward O. Thorp








There is a book which changed the landscape of the gambling world and which served as the base for many blackjack systems.

Following our recommendation for beginners, it’s time to step up our game and move to intermediate level. The goal is to help the players choose from the sea of books dealing with blackjack. Therefore, we skimmed through the confusing accounts of 21 guides to provide you a reading list only with the best of the best. The next thing you’ll hold in your hands after these books will be packet of blackjack winnings.

Forget the misconception about card counting being illegal. This belief seeds from misinformed screen-writers and urban legends, and it’s totally false. Of course casinos are against smart strategies, but these are based on knowledge and not physical cheats. If you’ll become an experienced counter, you can utilize your skills both in online and land based casinos. However, while you’d like to keep your notes within reach, online blackjack is the best option.

The dawn of card counting

The following lines are dedicated to a blackjack strategy book which served as a key to the professional blackjack world since 1966. Edward O. Thorp’s ‘Beat the Dealer: A Winning Strategy for the Game of Twenty-One‘ eradicated the advantage of the house with its revolutionary point system. It is deservedly regarded as the bible of 21 players and Thorp as the father of card counting. This guide influenced generations of professionals and amateurs in the gambling world.

Beat the Dealer’s publication was the starting point of the blackjack craze. The strategies discussed in this book made blackjack the most rewarding game a gambler can choose in casinos. These card counting strategies are based on the mathematical theory of probability. They proved to be so rewarding that Las Vegas casinos were forced to rise the dealer’s advantage to avoid bankruptcy. However, this does not mean that the book is unusable. In fact, its significance’s higher than ever.

Based on mathematics

The first sections of the book introduce you to the way blackjack is played in casinos. Even if you are familiar with the basics, it’s always helpful to revise. Later on, there’s a discussion of the basic casino strategy and its establishment in the 60’s. The central chapters are dedicated to Thorp’s card counting strategies. All the information is backed up by mathematical analysis and the Las Vegas experiences of the author. Even though these descriptions may appear to be too technical, the information in them is really useful.

The closing chapters are about cheating and casino countermeasures. They conclude the casinos’ reactions to Thorp’s systems and its influence on the game. The book is listen in the credits of many Las Vegas themed movies because it’s basically impossible to dismiss its importance. Even though there are several fresher strategies, the relevance of this book should never be denied.

The connection with MIT

Thorp immersed in the world of blackjack while teaching at MIT. Accompanied by other professors, he was a frequent guest of Las Vegas casinos, where he would play and do research. His Simple Point-Count System and Complete Point-Count System were polished during these casino trips. An USD 10.000 bankroll was the budget for his researches. Later, he published both systems in ‘Beat the Dealer’. Most newly released card counting systems are still based on Thorp’s book. He applied his knowledge on other areas, too. For example, he profited lavishly on the stock market also.

This book has answers for such questions as when to split, when to double down and when to hit, amongst many others. It is a base of many other books, so even if it’s not the newest release it will provide a foundation for all further studies and blackjack tricks. It is an obligatory reading for many university math classes and it proved that blackjack is a beatable card game.


The series includes:

Reading List for Blackjack Players (Part I)

Reading List for Blackjack Players (Part III)