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Have you ever heard the expression: “the house always wins”? If we told you that a man managed to make this famous adage lie. Her name ? Edward O. Thorp.

This mathematician managed to find a way to win at blackjack so effectively that his name is known to all players. Attention, this is a technique involving card counting, you will not be able to use it in a game.

Who is Edward O. Thorp?

Born in 1932, Edward Oakley Thorp is an American mathematician. At the end of his studies in the most prestigious American schools such as Berkeley or UCLA, from which he came out with a PhD, he became interested in blackjack. This interest is however not immediate, at the beginning Thorp knows nothing about games of chance.

He became interested in it when he started wanting to study the Kelly Criterion, a theory intrinsically linked to gambling. He then learned Fortran, a computer language used in science, in order to be able to create equations for calculating the probability of blackjack.

Thorp’s Crazy Experiment

By taking into account the rules used by casinos, he develops a way to count cards, a process prohibited in particular because of him. Everything could have ended here, but Thorp decided to test his method in real conditions. The place of his first experience was Reno, Nevada.

Thanks to his method, he managed to raise $11,000 in a single weekend. Following this, he had to disguise himself to enter casinos without being recognized and his method also proved effective in baccarat games. He is also the originator of the first portable computer (in the sense wearable like a piece of clothing) concealed in a casino.

His experiences gave rise to a book, controversial, because it did not necessarily respect all academic procedures, but very popular in the game world.

What did Thorp do next?

If his adventures with casino bosses who want his skin are far behind him, Thorp has not given up his passion for numbers. He became interested in the world of the stock market, which in many ways is very similar to casino games.

He specialized in the creation of anti-inflation funds. He is also one of the first people to have pointed out the flaws in Bernard Madoff’s project and to question his rate of return on investment. History will prove him right in 2008.