Edward O. Thorp
author of the 1960s classic Beat the Dealer.
Edward O. Thorp
Edward Oakley Thorp is widely regarded, by professional players as well as the general public, as the Father of Card Counting. It was in his book, Beat the Dealer, first published in 1962, that he presented his Ten Count system, the first powerful winning blackjack system ever made available to the public, and the first published successful mathematical system for beating any major casino gambling game. All card counting systems in use today are variations of Thorp’s Ten Count.
When Thorp’s book became a best-seller, the Las Vegas casinos attempted to change the standard rules of blackjack, but their customers would not accept the changes and refused to play the new version of the game. So, the Vegas casinos went back to the old rules, but switched from dealing hand-held one-deck games to four-deck shoe games, a change that the players would accept.
Unfortunately for the casinos, in 1966 Thorp’s revised second edition of Beat the Dealer was published. This edition presented the High-Low Count, as developed by Julian Braun, a more powerful and practical counting system for attacking these new shoe games.
In 1967, Thorp published Beat the Market (coauthored with S. Kassouf), and shortly thereafter started (with J. Regan) the first market neutral derivatives-based hedge fund. To put it in the vernacular, he made zillions.
For many years Ed Thorp wrote a column for Gambling Times magazine [now defunct]. Many of these columns were collected in a book titled The Mathematics of Gambling , published in 1984 by Lyle Stuart. In 1961, working with C. Shannon, Thorp invented the first wearable advantage-play computer.
Thorp has an M.A. in Physics and a Ph.D. in mathematics. He has taught mathematics at UCLA, MIT, NMSU and UC Irvine, where he also taught quantitative finance.