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Edward O. Thorp

Many people consider Edward Oakley to be the inventor of Blackjack card counting. According to most, he is the man who discovered the first real method for winning money at this card game. But, who is he? Let’s learn a little more about him.

A mathematician

Thorp earned a Masters in Physics and a Doctorate in Mathematics at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) to become a professor of science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Next, he taught quantitative finance.

The trigger

In 1962, upon reading an article about the study of Blackjack from a statistics standpoint, Thorp had the idea of looking into the game in the hopes of creating a systematic method for winning. He embarked on a long period of work, during which he examined how Blackjack functions and attempted to develop a method that would take into account remaining variations after certain hands had been dealt. This is the very essence of card counting.

From weekend games to 70,000 dollars in winnings

Thorp had a friend, Claude Elwood Shannon, a mathematical engineer and Blackjack and roulette lover. Accompanied by this friend and his wife, Betty Shannon, Edward O. Thorp made frequent weekend gambling trips to Las Vegas. These excursions brought them a lot of money since a single weekend was enough to rake in an average of 70,000 dollars, when adjusted for the current rate of inflation.

Beat the dealer

More than the money that he won at the casinos, Thorp amassed a fortune thanks to the success of his writing career. In 1965, he published Beat the Dealer in which he laid out his card counting system. The book was an instant success. Even today, it remains a classic for any player who wants to know the ins and outs of Blackjack. In 1966, a second edition of Beat the Dealer was published. It outlines a simpler technique that is more practical to apply; this technique solidified Thorp’s reputation even further.

From the casino to the stock market

Becoming bored of the casino scene, Thorp decided one day to change his field of study. He began to take an interest in the stock market. In 1967, he published Beat the Market. Co-authored by J. Regan, the work introduced a method for reading the exchange market, inspired by the system that he had developed for casinos. Thanks to this new system, he grew even richer.