Is Blackjack a ?Winnable? Game?

When blackjack first became a casino staple, it was assumed that it was rather like baccarat, where the house, by virtue of the rules determining play, had a statistical edge. All players and students of the game assumed that this advantage existed based on two simple facts. One, the player had to act first. Two, all busts (hands totaling over twenty-one) were losers no matter what the dealer later drew. These two rules seem to give the house an incontrovertible edge.
Conventional began to change in 1956 when a paper by Baldwin, Cantey, Maisel, and McDermont was published in the _Journal of the American Statistical Association_. This paper and a black-jack strategy manual published by Baldwin et al. the following year both attracted very little interest among non mathematicians, but it would prove to be the first step toward determining that blackjack is a “winnable” game.
Edward O. Thorp, a scientist at MIT, did understand the implications of the work of Baldwin and his colleagues and began to ex-amine two elements of the game that were previously unexamined. One, the composition of a deck of cards changes with every card dealt. Two, some deck compositions favor the player and other favor the house. In 1962, Thorp published his now famous book, _Beat the Dealer_, which contained a simple yet profound mes-sage. Unlike dice, roulette wheels, and slot machines, decks of cards have “memory.”
Blackjack, unlike Roulette for example, is a winnable game be-cause of this “memory.” Let’s look at an example. You are sit-ting at the Roulette table and the dealer throws the ball and it comes to rest on the number 9. Now, when he throws the ball again for the next round, what are the odds the ball lands on 9 again? Assuming the wheel is not rigged or the dealer is not trained to “fix” the outcome, the odds of the ball landing on 9 again are exactly the same! Let’s take it a step further. Assume that the ball does indeed land on 9 again – twice more. Now the ball has landed on the 9 three times in a row! What are the odds this happens a fourth time? Exactly the same! There is no statistical reason that the ball should “avoid” landing on 9 again.
Blackjack is different. Let’s look at a similar situation in blackjack. You are at the table with two other players. The dealer deals a 9 to each of the players at the table. Now the odds of dealing another 9 have been significantly reduced. In a six deck game the odds have been reduced from 3:49 to 7:104. This fact alone makes blackjack a winnable game.

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