6.5 C
Thursday, December 7, 2023

The First Person to Cheat a Casino: How Did a Mathematician Subdue Blackjack and Roulette?

Have you often heard about the practical application of science? The hero of our article today managed to use mathematical and physical knowledge in the casino, and then – on the stock exchange. To share his knowledge with the world, he published the book “Beat the Dealer”, where he talked about winning strategies in blackjack.

His name is Edward Thorpe. Now the trickster’s fortune is estimated at $ 800 million.

He Broke Roulette and Blackjack

In the late 50s, he got a degree in mathematics from the University of California in Los Angeles and became a teacher, there he also found a life friend with whom he shared grief and joy and raised three children. A year later, he moved to MIT, to Chicago – and finally took up roulette.

The beginning of the 60s was devoted to the development of a win-win way of playing roulette with a local professor. Using an old roulette wheel, they created a compact computer. The device, slightly larger than a modern credit card, fits into a shoe. Launch – click on the button. The device performed calculations and gave the future position of the ball by sending a radio signal to a speaker hidden in the ear.

It’s Blackjack’s Turn

Manual calculations are almost impossible here, but at work, he was able to use an IBM-704 for this. And it went well! 

In order to bet, he himself used the Kelly criterion: to place large bets when he has an advantage and vice versa. Usually, due to large bets, the player manages to win, even if he merges small ones.

The theory should have been tested. He ordered an article in the Boston Globe, where he said that he knows how to beat the system. In addition to fame, he was showered with offers of economic support. He chose two – with New York businessman Manny Kimmel, the owner of a parking network (and in the past – a bootlegger and organizer of illegal fights), and his business partner Ed Hand.

The two gave him $10,000 in capital and toured the casino with Thorpe. In one of the games, they managed to empty the table bank together with Kimmel. After that, several rounds were allowed to double the capital.

Baccarat’s Turn

Then it was baccarat’s turn. In 1962, together with William Walden, he came up with a tactic that allows using calculations to win and then tested it in practice in Las Vegas, but faced unexpected consequences: on the way back in their car, the brakes broke.



A year later, a book was published where he published hundreds of winning strategies for the game and the fight against cheating. Casinos began to calculate the players counting the cards and forbid them to enter. Thus, this man was able to cheat in the most popular gambling games with the help of mathematics and science. This story is amazing and shows how a person can achieve everything he wants.

Latest news
Related news