Edward O Thorpe Biography - Father of Card Counting

Ed Thorpe is known as the father of card counting. Many of today's top gamblers thank Ed Thorpe for the advice and strategy given in his book, Beat the Dealer. Though published in the 60's, the strategy is still useful and effective today. This article will cover some of the amazing things about this fabulous man and the book that started it all.

Ed Thorpe was born in the 30's. He achieved Doctorate in mathematics from University of California, Los Angeles and became a professor at several places including MIT, New Mexico State and University of Califorinia, Irving. At the latter, he was also a professor of finance as well. Not only was he a finance professor, but he also ran Princeton/Newport Partners, a hedge fund that returned 15 percent annually. This fund ran well until a junk bond scandal forced it to close. He later regrouped and created Edward O. Thorp Associates which has yielded 20% return over 30 years! He did this by finding price abnormalities in securities. His net worth is nearly a billion dollars.

books by edward o thorpe

Ed Thorpe and Claude Shannon also became known as the creator of the first wearable computers. Wearable computers like the smart wristwatch and Fitbit have become common more recently. Their origins are related to wristwatch and later the smart watch. As his interest in numbers continued on he was to the casinos and blackjack.

Initially he used a computer to test probability with numbers. With Manny Kimmel as his backer, he went to a casino with $10,000 and won $11,000 in a weekend. Eventually, he became too good for the casinos and was barred from many of them. He became a legend in blackjack circles and when his book, Beat The Dealer, came out it sold 700,000 copies, becoming a New York Times bestseller.

Thorpe's strategy was based on the Kelly criterion. As with most strategies, they get amended by the user with addons so the case with Beat the Dealer . His book received the most exposure making him the father of blackjack card counting. In general blackjack card counting works like this. When the dealer deals a low card, the deck value increases since the likelihood of a ten or better increases and when a dealer deals a ten or better, the deck value decreases since the likelihood of ten or better decreases. Within this formula are several formulas with variables added or lesser value for cards like sevens, eights and nines.

Blackjack card counting has since gone on to be featured in several movies. The MIT Blackjack Team was also a much heralded group of players with an extremely successful run during its time. Many of today's top blackjack players have read Beat The Dealer.

Reviews of Beat The Dealer:

books by edward o thorpe

This book started it all. Before this book, only a very few people knew about card counting, and most only had primitive systems. Thorp analyzed the game, ran computer simulations, and devised two effective strategies for beating the casinos at their own games. Can you run out and use these systems today against the casinos? Sure, but over 30 years have gone by and there are now simpler more effective systems. But if you are naturally gifted at doing complex calculations in your head quickly, I think the 10 count system would still be wickedly effective. Buy it for the theory and the stories. Then go out and buy a newer book with simpler more modern counting systems.


I totally disagree with the other reviewers who say this book is "no longer relevant". It is the definitive guide to Blackjack's "Basic Strategy" plus provides a fascinating historical perspective on how Thorp ran the computer simulations to develop the Basic Strategy and test it in Nevada casinos back in the early '60's. What the other reviewers say is true, that the methods Thorp used (card counting) to make a lot of money back in the '60's no longer work today, but that doesn't diminish the value of the book. The casinos were changing the rules and "shutting down" the big opportunities before Thorp even finished the book. But that isn't the measure of the value of the book (although it is testimony to how powerful Thorps's insights were when first developed).

Everyone playing Blackjack (one deck or out of a shoe) should be playing "Basic Strategy" at a minimum. If you want to implement some other strategy on top of that (changing bet size, card counting, etc. etc.) have at it. But the starting point should be Basic Strategy. Furthermore, the average recreational Blackjack player should be playing Basic Strategy, but many (most? -- at the cheaper tables anyway) don't as you can observe by sitting down at any Blackjack table. This book should be read by anyone who wants to play Blackjack. ------

This is the definitive guide to Blackjack Basic Strategy and the history of card counting. I really don't think there is another book other there with clarity and depth, its not wonder it started a revolution. People who are crazy enough to dismiss this book for its age don't realize how fascinating the history is or how relevant his strategies still are today. In fact, I'm always surprised by how few people at blackjack tables know the basic strategy - although I'm happy to have the advantage.

Thorp's breakthrough insight to casino completely changed the game, and I enjoy reading about him. Just recently someone published an early book of his that looks like a doctoral thesis, which I recommend to fellow number junkies out there. The math that you may miss from Beat the Dealer is all there! Check it out: A Winning Bet in Nevada Baccarat



I would guess that I (along with a friend) were one of the first ones to use Thorpe's card-counting system in Nevada. We bought his first book as soon as it arrived hot of the press in our local book store and were barely old enough to get in a casino at the time. After we bought the book we spent a couple of months practicing and then headed for Nevada and we probably played regularly after that for a couple of years. Then over the years, through the 70s, 80s, and 90s, I would play now and then when my wife and I would go there on vacation.

Because there are easier systems and more efficient systems available now days, Thorpe's book is mostly only useful as historical background and theory, etc. HOWEVER,the following chapter is probably worth its weight in gold for some potential gamblers:

Blackjack Card Counting Strategies

Card counting

Card counting is a strategic plan to assess when there is an advantage.It calls for tracking of ratio of cards from high to low.The basics are that high cards aces , kings , queens , jacks and tens are better and indicate a more favorable outcome than low cards whose appearance may indicate a bust.A running count is kept by a point score of the value each card .Each card is given either 1+ , 0 or -1. There are others card counting strategies that rank up to 5+ but due to time in a casino might not be applicable for an actual game.Below is several types of card counting systems and strategies


Planet 7 Casino

play blackjack at planet 7 casino

play several types of blackjack including perfect pairs , pontoon, match 21 and more

Silver Oak Casino

silver oak casino

Click here to Play Blackjack at Silver Oak Casino get $10,000 FREE

Operating Since 1999

There's something about an online casino so rich in history that sets it apart from others. Having been around since the birth of online gambling, Silver Oak Casino has aged gracefully, perfecting the process of sign-ups, payouts and exceptional customer service, while building a reputation as one of the most secure and trusted casinos with a URL.

With more than 4 million customers served, this wonderfully designed casino hasn't lost a step, refusing to be outdone when it comes to innovative playing features, thrilling games and fresh graphics.

With over 130 games including: 14 Bonus Slot Games, 3 Mega-Jackpot Progressive Slots, Traditional Slots, Blackjack, Progressive Caribbean Stud Poker, Keno, Video Poker, And many more Silver Oak Casino will provide you with a virtually limitless source of entertainment and winnings. And with the great 24hour customer support you can be sure you'll be well looked after and have your cash outs processed instantly.

Silver Oak is a leader in the online blackjack gaming community not only because of its well-earned reputation but also because of its exceptional combination of realistic blackjack games like Blackjack + Perfect Pairs ,Match 21 Blackjack, Face Up 21 Blackjack , Pontoon , European Blackjack,and Super 21 Blackjack

It's not surprising that Silver Oak Casino has managed to rack up a number of industry awards including honors in the following categories: Top Casino, Top Casino Service, Top Casino Reputation, Quickest Payouts and Most Honest Casino.

The reasons for Silver Oak's long-term success are plenty , and so are the reasons why you should check this site out for yourself!

Visit Silver Oak Casino today

Sun Palace Casino

Blackjack , Perfect Pairs , Match 21 Blackjack, European Blackjack and more Join here.

gambling casino menu

Slots Plus For Blackjack

$500 Casino Bonus

Favorite Links


Tweet submit to reddit