Monday, April 28, 2008

21, Counting Cards

I just recently saw the movie 21, and noticed some of the same themes we have been talking about throughout the semester. If you don't know what 21 is, it is based on a true story about M.I.T. students who counted cards as a team and took weekly trips to Las Vegas to take advantage of blackjack. In the movie, they proceed to make simpler mathematical theories appear much harder than they really are. There were many references to mathematical terms throughout, but what I thought was most interesting was how much harder the movie showed counting cards to be. The idea behind counting cards is to keep track of what cards are left in the deck and make larger bets based on the "count." There are many different strategies to use to count cards, and the one used in the movie is the simplest. You assign either a +1, -1 or a 0 to each card that is delt, with +1's given to 2, 3, 4, 5 and -1's given to 10, J, Q, K, A and 0's given to all other cards. Counting cards is as simple as adding and subtracting one based on the cards delt and keeping a running total. When the "count" gets high enough, above +12 or so, the odds in the game which are normally in favor of the house by half a percent or so is now in favor of the gambler. It is at this point that you should make bigger bets to take advantage of a hot table. The movie shows this simple adding and subtracting one from a running total to be something only the smartest mathematical students from M.I.T. can pull off. I just found this to be interesting.

1 comment:

jmartinez said...

Wow, that's not that hard at all. But I think it's almost impossible now since the casinos use multiple decks. However, I'll use this when I'm playing with friends.