If there is one book that every professional blackjack player knows, it’s “Beat the Dealer” by Edward O. Thorp.
Dr. Thorp, a math professor, had calculated a mathematical system to beat blackjack, and in 1962, published his results for all to see. The book outlined the concepts behind both basic strategy and card counting, a method for calculating how favorable the deck is to the player.
Effects of Beat the Dealer on Players
Players flocked to casinos to try Thorp's blackjack system. In the short run, this was to the casino's benefits, as many players understood the book poorly and misapplied the concepts, or deviated from the system. However eventually, a new group of professional card counters began to emerge. These card counters not only used Thorp's system correctly, but also improved upon it, adding ideas like "Wonging," watching a game without actually playing, then jumping in when the count was favorable, and team play, using a group of counters in concert to beat the blackjack tables.
Effects of Beat the Dealer on Casinos
Once casinos realized the book could actually be used to beat their game, they changed the rules. Blackjack shoes went from containing two or four decks to containing six or eight decks. Instead of dealing down to the last card, since counters profited most when the dealer was deep in the deck, casinos had their dealers reshuffle about three quarters of the way through.
Even with these innovations, young and aspiring blackjack pros still show up all the time in online blackjack casinos and in live establishments, confident that they can beat the dealer.