100 years ago, the world famous mathematician Henri Poincare proved that no one can beat the casino. It is also a common view of the world, backed by the painful reality of generations of gamblers.
However, Edward O Thorp – Professor of Mathematical Legends – invented a method of “card counting” that helps an amateur player can beat the old fox casino owners in Las Vegas.
In the last century, in America, a 6-year-old boy followed his father into a grocery store in the small town of Crete, Illinois. The shop owner saw him hugging a thick book of History of England in disbelief: “How can a child read that book?” And when he heard his father proudly reply, “It can be!”, The shop owner said puzzledly: “How many kings and queens in England and what years do they rule in order of time? ? ”.
The boy replied immediately, without looking at the book: “Alfred the Great ascended the throne in 871, took the throne in 899; Edward the Elder reigned in 899 and ended in 925 “… then the names, years of rule of 50 kings and queens again and ended with:” Victoria ascended the throne in 1837, the book does not mention when Anyway, she abdicated! “.
The shop owner was afraid to turn pale and quickly get the ice cream cone to give to the boy! He was Edward O Thorp – 30 years later became a legendary professor of mathematics – the author of a “card counting” method that allowed an amateur to beat the old Las Vegas fox casino owners who exploded. The opening gun in the derivative stock revolution on Wall Street – the world’s largest “Casino”! Thorp himself said: When he first spoke, he knew how to count from 1 to 1,000, he was in kindergarten when he was invited to the second grade by the principal. When he was a high school student, Thorp had an IQ of 148! (genius class).
Thanks to his academic excellence, he was invited by US President Harry Truman to meet at the Oval Office, the White House. When Thorp entered the University of Berkeley, California, a prominent chemistry professor at the school was editing his textbook and offered 10 cents a print error with the earliest student. Thorp immediately found 10 errors and the professor awarded 1 USD. Seeing that he can believe it, he submits to the professor 75 other errors to receive $ 7.5. This time the professor winced. When a few days later, he brought him a list of a few hundred mistakes, the respectable professor “scuba”!
Because Berkeley is not strong in mathematics and physics, Thorp moved to UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) – the second oldest university in the system of 10 schools of the University of California. After graduating excellently, he stayed in school to do his doctorate.
In 1958, the Thorp and his wife arrived in Las Vegas for Christmas break. A fellow professor told him a “trick” was devised by four mathematicians during their time in the army, to “fight” with Blackjack – a popular gambling game in world casinos.
After nearly 2 hours of “move”, he almost stripped clean. The wife was disappointed. Thorp was very excited by discovering a news. He thought that even the experienced players could not understand the mathematical nature of the game.
Days of sheep
Back in Los Angeles, he plugged into the university library. 400 years ago, the theory of probability was born from a book about games of chance. It claims that it is impossible to have a system that beat gambling games in most cases. But in the past, Thorp did not accept any advice without testing it for himself!
Using statistical-probability theory, Thorp came up with a strategy to defeat the house. Beside he calculate the odds of winning by keeping track of the cards. Thorp had to solve an enormous amount of computation. If done by hand, it takes 400 million years! Fortunately, back then at MIT.
One cold April day, Thorp and two millionaires flew to the gambling capital of Las Vegas with $ 100,000. They arrived Reno at midnight. The city is like a giant crimson neon spider spreading silk everywhere. There are no clocks in casinos and usually no windows. On the first day using the “card count” method at the Blackjack table, Thorp won $ 1,000. On Monday that figure was 13,000 USD. At the end of three days in Las Vegas, the casinos lost Thorp $ 21,000. The “card counting” system won in “the field” as in theory.