Ed Thorp Ten Count

Doctor Edward Thorp is considered by many as the father of modern card counting. It is unlikely that he invented card counting, but he developed a solid system of beating the casino, and most importantly, he published a blackjack book called Beat the Dealer, which details a strategy for winning at blackjack.

The book became incredibly popular almost overnight, and stormed onto the New York Times bestseller list. Thorp’s theory is mathematically sound, and it shifts the balance of power in the Blackjack game from a 5% edge in favour of the House to a 1% edge in favour of the player.

However, the downside to Thorp’s incredible popularity was that casinos became aware of people implementing the Thorp technique (called Ed Thorp’s Ten Count), and began to develop countermeasures that would reduce the efficiency of the system.

Thorp’s system still works today, but casino staff will be watching for it, so you should be careful in your implementation. You can’t be prosecuted for applying this technique, but you can certainly be thrown out of the casino if the dealer or pit boss notices you.

The Theory Behind the Ten Count System

In blackjack, you try to obtain a hand that’s worth as close to 21 points as possible. Most cards are considered to be worth the same number of points as displayed on their face, but all royalty is worth 10 points as well.

The h3est hands are made up of these high-value cards, and if you land two of them, it’s highly likely that you’ll win. But since you are required to place a bet before being dealt cards, getting a h3 hand is only helpful if you were able to pre-empt its arrival. Card counting provides a way to do this.

Idea In Practise

After literally months of computer analysis, Ed Thorp decided that the only cards worth worrying about the cards worth 10 points. In a standard deck of 52, there are 16 high value cards, and 36 regular cards.

Thorp’s system requires a blackjack player to maintain not one but two running counts in their head. You start with 16 and 36, and subtract from these totals as you see the cards appear in front of you. By so doing, you can tell at any given point in the game how many high-value cards still remain in the deck.

This is particularly useful information if you are approaching the end of the deck and you happen to know that it’s loaded with cards worth 10 points. When something like this happens, you increase your betting to the maximum, since it is highly likely that you will hit a winning streak.

Conversely, if your count tells you that all of the high-value cards are already gone, you should lower your bet to the minimum. This allows you to stretch your stack out until the next favourable run.

Thorp’s system is highly effective in that it gives you the data you need without having to memorise the specifics of the entire deck. However, many players find it difficult to work with two mental totals while still concentrating on the game.