Games: Beating the Dealer

The omnicompetent computer, whose attention often seems to be concentrated on the welfare of moon travelers and submariners, may at last have produced a palpable boon for the common run of mankind: a system for winning money in a gambling house.

A 30-year-old mathematics professor named Edward O. Thorp claims to have made this important breakthrough by feeding the equivalent of 10,000 man-years of desk-calculator computations into an IBM 704 computer and arriving at a set of discoveries about the way the odds fluctuate in the game of blackjack, or twenty-one. This system enables the initiate to bet heavily...

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