Ed Thorp: Blackjack Legend

Dr. Edward Thorp is a blackjack undeniable legend. This American mathematics professor won fame having published the book Beat the Dealer, which was the first book about blackjack card counting and its effectiveness. He was also the co-developer of the wearable computer, which is now illegal.

Successful Casino Raids

Edward Oakley Thorp was born in 1932 in Chicago. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1958 from the University of California he went on to teach mathematics at MIT. There he develops his theory of card counting to maximize the chances of winning in the long run. At that time he got acquainted with Claude Shannon and his wife and later they would take weekend trips to casinos in Vegas to play roulette and blackjack. One weekend's winnings could accrue to a total of nearly $70,000 by today's standards.

It was Thorp's raid in Las Vegas that made casino dealers introduce shuffling before the deck is completed in order to bring to naught card counting. Trying out and improving his card counting system with the money of underground organizations, Dr. Thorp decides to write a book where he would set out the principles of his card counting system. The book was published in 1962 and proved that by tracking the cards dealt, a blackjack gambler can have a good return (from 0.25% to 5%).

The book explained the "ten count system" as a tutorial that taught the reader how to win the advantage over the dealer. From there on all serious card counting systems have Thorp's method as a base. It sold over 700,000 copies and made it to the prestigious New York Times bestseller list.

Las Vegas casinos quickly became aware of the effect Dr. Thorp's book would make so they changed some basic rules of the blackjack game. This novelty was boycotted by the players outraged by new unknown rules and the original rules were brought back. But casinos started to use four-decks in blackjack instead of a single deck.

University Career and Stock Market

He was a professor of mathematics from 1965 to 1977 and a professor of mathematics and finance from 1977 to 1982 at University of California, Irvine. Later on in his teaching career he turned to teach Quantitative Finance (a prelude for his later interest in the stock market).

Since 1960s Thorp used his knowledge of probability prediction in the stock market and made a tolerable fortune. In 1969 he launched the first market neutral hedge fund along with partner Jay Regan. He is the founder and current president of "Edward O. Thorp & Associates" in Newport Beach, where he resides with his wife Vivian. He is also a member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame, having been one of the first seven inductees chosen.