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The Theory of Blackjack: The Compleat Card Counter's Guide to the Casino Game of 21 (6th Edition, Indexed) Paperback – March 1, 1999
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It is not an introduction to blackjack. It's assumed you already know how to play the game.
It is not an introduction to card counting. The author assumes you already know a card counting system, or at least have a basic understanding of what one entails.
It is PROBABLY not going to make you a better player. It's not really a "how to" guide for the game as much as it's a guide to show you how to effectively ANALYZE the game.
As the title suggests this book is a fairly comprehensive review of the theory of blackjack. While a traditional counting book will tell you the HOW of card counting, this book will show you WHY it works, how card counting systems are derived, how to compare the power of different card counting systems (the so-called "efficiences") and contrast them to an (linearly) ideal system. You will also learn how to calculate exact probabilities (well, really how to write a program to do this) that could be used to determine the values (in terms of expected return) of different hands or to design a tool that will give you the optimal play in any situation that may arrise in blackjack. This tool isn't to be confused with "basic strategy", which only gives you the optimal play off the top of a freshly shuffled shoe.
This book is ideal for someone who is comfortable with playing blackjack in a casino environment, has a basic understanding of the difficulties faced by card counters, and is comfortable with mathematical formulas and their derivations (although a lot of concepts can be understood without a strong background in math, you'll get a lot more out of the book if you can follow its derivations). After reading it you should be in a position where you COULD develop your own card counting system, calculate expected values (essentially probabilities) for given hands and given plays, and have the satisfaction of knowing that you have a better understanding of the inner workings of blackjack than 99% of the people who play the game!
This may sound too advanced for many folks, but frankly the math is fairly easy to understand (it mostly uses basic statistics that you probably learned and forgot in high school).
If you are serious about card counting, the information in this book will help you evaluate BJ counting systems (or even systems you invent). It will also help you subtly modify your play for changes in rules at different casinos.
Do you need to be a computer programmer to use this book? No, but it wouldn't hurt. Is this book useful for writing BJ simulators? Yes, but it's also great for really understanding what it takes to be a really good card counter.
Personally, this book convinced me that I don't have the patience (or time) to become a good card counter. But at least now I know why.
also, it just makes me think, because here's this mathematician who even wrote a book on the subject, yet he writes that he never actually won much money playing blackjack. obviously -- assumably -- it's not because he didn't understand how to play. just makes me realize that there's no guarantee that the laws of probability are gonna turn in my favor anytime soon. Like what's his name said, in the long run, we're all dead. so that don't do me too much good :(
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