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Just when and where the game of blackjack got started is a matter of great conjecture among people who worry about that sort of thing. Some books will tell you the game started in Italy; others insist it was in France and there are even others who are convinced the game's origin lies in the mysterious and inscrutable nature of the Chinese dynasties.

Blackjack writer John Scarne says there are some references to a card game involving 21 points as early as 1570; and he says The American Hoyle of 1875 contains one of the first references to the game as we know it.

Despite all the disagreements, this much is known for certain: around the turn of the 20th century, blackjack was for the most part a private game played in individual homes. Scarne (and early newspaper accounts) indicate that around 1910 in the Midwest, various "casinos" developed and while they were, for the most part, booking centers for horse racing, many included table games to keep the patrons occupied. One of those games was blackjack, and in the "casinos" of the Midwest (especially the horse rooms in an near Evansville, Ind.) the popularity of blackjack began to grow.

But the game¹s popularity really began asserting itself in the 1950s, when legal gambling spread to the deserts of Nevada. In fact, in "The Gambling Times Guide to Blackjack", there's a section and a chart or two devoted to various scientific research programs that statisticians and even physicists developed about blackjack. No kidding.

For instance, back in 1954 at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, apparently some scientists there (no doubt bored with building atomic weapons) began working on computer programs that would examine the various chances of beating a blackjack dealer with various blackjack hands. And the guys at Los Alamos weren't the only bored scientists to take a gander at blackjack odds and theories.

That same book lists research projects at (and I am not making this up!): The Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1956; the General Dynamics Corp. from 1954 to 1957; the Univac Corp. in Los Angeles in 1959; Dr. Edward O. Thorp at MIT in 1959; some scientists at North Carolina State University in 1974 and on and on. The scientists used everything from desk calculators to IBM, Univac, and Remington-Rand computers. And you thought this was just a simple old card game, right?

Not so. These guys developed charts which listed the various advantages or disadvantages to the blackjack player holding certain cards against the dealer's various up - that means visible to the players - cards. They also calculated the effectiveness of a variety of card-counting schemes. And in the last twenty years, there have been literally dozens of card-counting schemes, plans, systems, and programs.

So lets stop right here once again and repeat our position concerning card counting: Forget about it! Just remember, if you can count cards in a six or eight-deck blackjack shoe, then you don't need to be playing games. As I've said before, you need to be working for the government at NASA or maybe the CIA.


Card counting is complicated. Card counting is confusing. And card counting with multi-deck shoes is, to my way of thinking, a waste of time and brain power. And don't take my word for it. Visit your local bookstore and take a gander at the other blackjack books on the market. They are filled with chart after chart telling you how to count the cards, which cards are plus 1 and which are minus 1 and which are zero and when to do this and when to do that and, man, you'd better be a drop-dead genius if you want to follow all those instructions. Kind of takes the fun out of it, don't you think?

Learning basic blackjack skills is one thing. And believe me, that's not an easy, overnight kind of thing to do. There are about 550 different plays to memorize, and we get around to talking about all those in the book. That's difficult enough. All the other stuff is, if not outright unnecessary, at least superfluous. In other words, with my theory of money management and wager management, you don't need to be a card counter to "Beat 'Em At Their Own Game."

But back to the history lesson for a moment. It wasn't until all these scientists and statisticians and other bean-counter types got through playing with their computers that other normal people like you and me decided that, hey, if it's enough to interest all those eggheads, then maybe blackjack is a game we out to try and play.

Sure enough, about three decades ago people starting looking at the game really hard. There are all kinds of legends and myths about blackjack players suddenly showing up in 'Vegas with a system and winning hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some of those stories are, no doubt, true. But many of them have more than likely been embellished with the fine polish of time. Sure, I suppose some people made a fortune at the tables after the computer whizzes said blackjack could be beaten.  But the days of the quick road to blackjack riches are over, if they were ever really there in the first place.

Now, I'm not a history major and that's probably more than you care to know about how this game got started. But knowledge never hurts: the more we know the better people we become, generally. And besides, on those days when the cards don¹t go your way, maybe you can take some solace in the notion that for several hundred years, people have had the occasional run of bad cards and lost a dollar, a peso, a lira, a franc, a yen, a mark or a pound or two playing blackjack.

Nevertheless, the truth is you CAN win at the blackjack tables and it doesn't matter if those tables are in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Reno, Laughlin, Tunica, Biloxi or on any of the hundreds of floating casinos that have been launched in recent years. In fact, there are now over 2,500 casinos in this country. There are thousands more throughout the world, and the basic strategy and money and wager management programs you'll learn about in this little book will help you "Beat 'Em At Their Own Game" at all these places.

So get busy!


Beat 'em at Their Own Game blackjack instruction video - Blackjack strategy book also available.

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