Edward Thorp's Basic Blackjack Strategy

Edward Thorp's Basic Blackjack Strategy

By Contributor | Blackjack | June 19th, 2013

Blackjack is now widely known as one of the casino games that give players the best odds of winning. Part of the fun is knowing that your choices as a player will affect the final outcome, making it a game of skill as well as chance. If you play your hand perfectly, in a casino with the right rules, you can reduce the house edge to as little as 0.8%. Compare that to casino games with some of the worst odds, like certain Keno games where the house has an edge as high as 25%, and Blackjack comes out as the winner's game of choice. But how do we know this, and what exactly does it mean to play your hand perfectly? Well, we have a mathematician named Edward Thorp to thank.

Edward Thorp’s Basic Blackjack Strategy and Card Counting

The first member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame, Edward Thorp is the man who pioneered the concept of a basic blackjack strategy. In his 1962 book “Beat the Dealer”, now famous as the bible that gave birth to card counting, he explored the maths behind Blackjack and produced a table of moves that gave players the best odds possible. By telling you when to hit, stand, double or split by comparing your hand to the dealer’s up card, Thorp's table gives you the best chance of long-term success.

Thorp also discovered that by keeping track of the cards in-play and betting when the odds were in favour of the player, you could actually gain an edge over the house. This is the difference between a basic blackjack strategy and card counting. Thorp put his theories into practice and won thousands at casinos, earning himself an unhealthy reputation in the process. His strategy was so effective that card counting was eventually outlawed in most casinos, and its practitioners blacklisted.

The Survival of Basic Strategy

As unwelcome as card counting is, however, many casinos now actually encourage players to learn about and use Thorp’s basic strategy. If you ask at your local casino they may even provide a basic strategy chart for you to follow. Thorp's original table is as effective today as it was in 1962, and by following his simple instructions you can convert your Blackjack game from random chance into a specialist art form. Indeed, this basic strategy solidifies Blackjack’s reputation as a casino ‘skill game’, where a player's own actions can adjust how well they perform in the game (similar to poker).

Try Basic Strategy Online

Card counting is impossible at an online casino, where every hand is a new shuffle, but Thorp's basic blackjack strategy is based on individual hand odds, so even online it’s a sure way to improve your Blackjack game. You can practise in the comfort of your own home at online sites such as partycasino, with live dealer options making it even more like you're playing in a real venue. The speed of online games will help you to quickly learn the moves, and by rapidly getting through a number of hands you’re sure to see the results.

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