Edward Thorp - Professional Blackjack Player & Card Counter

There are some players in the world of gambling, especially blackjack, that stand out as giants, overshadowing not just their contemporaries and peers but also earlier and future generations of blackjack players, and Edward Thorp ranks right up there with the best. Born Edward Oakley Thorp, this man is a legend, an inductee into the Blackjack Hall of Fame, one of the first seven inductees, in fact.

To a blackjack professional, the name Edward Thorp needs no introduction. Born on 14 August, 1932, in Chicago, he is considered the creator of the blackjack technique called card-counting. Card counting is a popular technique in blackjack that enables players to keep count of the cards that have been dealt out of the deck and the ones that still remain in the deck.


Edward Thorp – Introducing Card Counting to the Player

One look at Edward Thorp’s initial educational achievements gives you an idea about how immensely gifted the man is. He completed his M.A. in Physics and then went on to obtain a doctorate in Mathematics in 1958 from the University of California, Los Angeles. Between 1959 and 1961, he worked at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T). Later, he taught mathematics from 1965 to 1977 and also taught math and finance between 1977 and 1982 at the University of California, Irvine.

However, Thorp became more popular in an area completely removed from his academic leanings – blackjack. In 1962, he wrote and published Beat the Dealer, a landmark book in blackjack that first introduced the technique of card counting to blackjack enthusiasts. In that book, he brought to the blackjack fan the Ten Count system. This was the first winning blackjack system that the people were introduced to. It was also the first successful math-based system that was published and could reduce the house advantage significantly, giving players a more realistic chance of winning.

Thorp used a computer, the IBM 704, to help him in his research for Beat the Dealer. Once he had sufficiently advanced on the theoretical aspect of his research, he decided to test whether he was right or wrong about card counting in the casinos of Reno, Lake Tahoe, and also Las Vegas. He used $10,000 from Manny Kimmel, a rich gambling pro who was an illegal bookmaker with connections to the mob at one point in time and played blackjack at the casinos basing his play on his theory. He could not have been more right, notching up $11,000 in wins during

The casinos became wary of him and the blackjack players adored him, making him an instant celebrity. The result of his research was Beat the Dealer, which sold more than 700,000 copies and made it to the bestseller list of the New York Times.

Edward Thorp – Other Achievements

Edward Thorp did not stop with writing one book, and turned out to be a man of multiple talents as well. He brought out the revised edition of Beat the Dealer in 1966, introducing readers to the High-Low technique. This technique had been developed by Julian Braun, a computer genius, and was an improvement over the Ten Count system.

In 1966, Thorp wrote another book, Elementary Probability. 1967 saw Thorp making a foray into finance with his offering Beat the Market, a book he co-authored with S.T. Kassouf. Thorp also regularly wrote a column over the years for Gambling Times magazine. Lyle Stuart finally published the contents of this column as a book, The Mathematics of

Along with Jay Regan, Thorp started the first market neutral hedge fund that was based on derivatives. The first hedge fund he launched was Princeton/Newport Partners, which, over a period of 19 years, achieved a 15.1% annualized net return. He is currently president of Newport Beach, California, based Edward O. Thorp & Associates. Edward Thorp, along with Claude Shannon, is also the co-inventor of the first wearable computer. This is a device that casinos nowadays consider illegal, but it speaks volumes of the genius that Thorp was.  

For more information about Edward O Thorp you can visit the official Edward Thorp website. The website provides pdf files and listings of numerous publications including the Kelly Criterian.

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