The solution to the question of why Blackjack is a favourite with mathematically inclined players comes down to one simple truth: Blackjack is a game of numbers. It has always been a game of numbers, despite its many earlier versions. The various versions of Blackjack originated mainly from games played in France and Spain. “Ving-ut” (twenty one) eventually made its way across Europe, its most likely predecessor having been a Spanish game named “Trente-un” (thirty one). As the name suggests, the aim was to draw a total number of cards as close as possible to thirty one, without going bust.
The European version of the game (21) most probably enjoyed the popularity that it did as a result of players feeling more in control of the outcome, being in the position to make certain decisions during play – instead of merely relying on luck. This has not changed – players still love the game for this very reason – especially those players in possession of the gift of the mastery of numbers. Mathematics, in its very essence, relies on the fact that a certain combinations of numbers and events will have a specified and highly predictable outcome. In the world of gambling and online gambling, predictability is gold.
Counting More Than Just the Cost
Seasoned players cite two main aspects of import when asked about the tricks of the trade: bankroll management and the skill of counting cards. Any discussion relating to a mathematical inclination towards the game of Blackjack would be incomplete without addressing what many regard to be the proverbial elephant in the room – counting cards.
Players have been endeavouring to beat casinos at their own game since the 1950’s. For the most part, this has not been all bad as far as the casinos were concerned. The largest influx of Blackjack players onto casino floors happened shortly after the publication of Edward Thorpe’s Beat the Dealer, in 1962. The reality was that all those inspired by the book were not necessarily able to perform the mental gymnastics required to master the trickery.
Thorpe’s basic idea was a ten count system. The player doing the counting would start off with two numbers in mind – 16 and 36. Cards were split into two categories; tens and other. As the cards were being dealt by the dealer the player would proceed to count backwards, dividing the count of others by the count of tens. This would ultimately provide an indication of player advantage, and the correct time to increase bets – and was known as the Thorpe Ratio.
This was a popular system in the days of employing a single deck of cards. In order to effectively adapt to more than a single deck of cards, the Hi-Lo Count system was soon implemented, a system still being used by card counters today.
Whatever your take on the issue of right and wrong as far as counting cards is concerned, it doesn’t require a mental gymnast to understand why the game of Blackjack appeals greatly to the number crunchers among us.