Tuesday 24th of April 2018 02:06:52 PM

The four horsemen of Blackjack.

They may not have played blackjack online, in fact they would not have had any perception of the online game as their gift to the game happened around the same time as the first computers were being developed and well before the internet had been dreamt of. The blackjack’s famous “four horseman” as they have become known were however the first professional blackjack players to develop what has become known as basic strategy.

Their names were James McDermott, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel and Roger Baldwin. Armed with nothing more than a few desk calculators plus more than their fair share of grey matter they cracked the game of blackjack, and it was the basic strategy that they developed that underpinned the subsequent work of Edward Thorpe and his book “Beat the Dealer.” When Thorpe tested their strategy in the following decade he had access to some (in those days) powerful computers and he discovered that they had been correct to the third decimal point.

Baldwin had a degree in maths and was a keen poker player. At the time he was in the army. For a change they decided to have a hand of blackjack. It was the first time that Baldwin had heard about blackjack rules, for instance the dealer having to stand on 17. He realised that there must be a way to formalise the best way of playing the game.

He got together with the other three and for the next eighteen months they spent all their spare time analysing the game. Eventually they managed to figure out blackjack’s basic strategy, and many aspects of it came as quite a shock to seasoned blackjack players. One example of this was their strategy showed that when a player had two 8s against the dealer’s 10 or 9, the best move was to split the 8s; almost a blasphemy at the time.

Nowadays anybody who plays online blackjack can use the results of their work; you don’t need to be a mathematician to do so. The rules are all formulated and you can download them from the web to help you maximise your online blackjack winnings.

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