- The book speaks the Truth
- Written by a Professor of Mathematics
- Great historical look at the casino mentality of the 1960's
- You can actually learn the simplified count system to beat 21
- The book is now a bit out-dated
- More powerful systems are now available
- Some of the math may be tough for readers
- Charts and indexes included are too small for any practical use
Guide Review "Beat The Dealer" by Edward O. Thorp - Book Review
The book Beat The Dealer was first published in 1962 by Edward o. Thorp, Professor of Mathematics at MIT. After becoming intrigued with the concept that perhaps the game of blackjack could be beaten under certain circumstances, Thorp used a powerful (for the time) computer system to ascertain the best way to play each hand and then devised a series of numerical counts to track the "quality" of a deck of cards.
When the quality of the deck was in the player's favor, the player could bet more money and thereby alter the casino's edge. After finding that the five card was the most valuable for house (casino), he produced a fives count and detailed the system in a paper for the American Mathematical Society in Washington, D.C. where he did a speech.
That little paper was just the jumping-off point for a series of papers and soon a book, Beat The Dealer, where he detailed the basic strategy for playing blackjack and also offered his count systems.
The count systems were too much for most players, but later edition of his book were revised and simplified so most anybody with some desire and the time to practice could manage to at least play even with the casino. While understanding the odds of casino games is tough, you don't need to know the odds to use Thorp's systems.
What's really Inside the Book
Thorp's book is now quite dated and there are many books on how to beat the game of blackjack that offer more powerful count strategies. However, his simplified system is rather easy to use and does offer a player the chance to truly beat the dealer (or the casino) of they put the time in to learn basic strategy and learn the count perfectly.
What the book really offers to readers now is a fascinating story of how he put his system together and what happened to the casinos and the world of gambling after the release of his first edition.
Things have changed greatly in the casino industry over the past 50 years, and it is quite amazing to read about what what going on last century. Strangely enough, the game of 21 really hasn't changed that much.
The book is well planned out, with a general introduction to the play of blackjack and then a chapter on basic strategy and why each hand needs to be played a certain way - based on what up-card the dealer is showing.
Thorp moves next into his early computer work, his strategies, and a true test of his ideas in the casinos of Nevada. From there he does chapters on different counts and offers plenty of advice on finding a good game.
The reader may be amazed by Thorp's next chapters on the unfortunate state of cheating in the casinos of the 1960's. Not everything he thought he was seeing was actual cheating, but there was indeed a problem. Fortunately, his book helped expose problems and the Nevada Gaming Commission took steps to make all casino games much more user friendly.
Today's blackjack games are safe, fair, and beatable!