People Who Changed Blackjack History

While the true genesis of Blackjack may be lost in the mists of time, its more recent history is fairly well documented and what it shows is that several people have become an impetus for major changes in the way the game is viewed and played. Some of the most influential include the following.

Roger Baldwin

For a long time gamblers had long suspected that Blackjack was mathematically "beatable", but Roger Baldwin was the first person to make a thorough study of the matter. His work was published in the Journal of the American Statistical Association and showed, through statistics and probability cases, that the various hand combinations could be learned and used by all players.

Edward Thorpe

Few people in Blackjack history, indeed in the history of gambling, have proven to be as influential as Professor Edward Thorpe. With the publication of his 1963 book Beat the Dealer, Thorpe introduced the concept of card counting, a strategy that would prove to be so successful that casinos all over the world had to reinvent the game, adding shuffling devices and using several decks in a game.

Julian Braun

Following the phenomenal success of Thorpe's Beat the Dealer, a second edition was published in the 1970s, and one of the biggest contributors was Julian Braun, who used to work at IBM. Using his knowledge of computers, Braun helped make the techniques described in the book even more user friendly and accessible.

Stanford Wong

Following in the footsteps of Baldwin and Thorpe, Stanford Wong wrote Professional Blackjack, another book that would help novices and longtime players understand the intricacies of the game. Unlike the previous works, the strategies discussed utilized computerized simulations to make the examples even easier to understand.

Ken Uston

No discussion of Blackjack history would be complete without mentioning the name of Ken Uston. Back in 1977, Uston, together with some friends, developed computer gadgets small enough to fit inside their shoes, allowing them to carry it in a casino undetected. They used these gadgets to pocket over $100,000 until the devices were detected.

Although they were charged by casinos of cheating, Uston and his team were cleared by the FBI on the grounds that the information stored in the computers were publicly accessible and not illegal in any way. Nevertheless, the use of card counting was, and remains, forbidden in most casinos.

As Blackjack history continues to be shaped by the Internet, expect more people to etch their names in the annals of the game's history. From the emergence of big money winners to the innovative strategists, all these signify that more interesting times are coming for the casino's number one card game.


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