Four Riders Aberdeen – The Creators Of The First Card Counting Strategy

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January 27, 2022
6 minutes

Four riders Aberdin

The book "beat the dealer" from edward torp in the late 60s became the "bible" for many players in blackjack. After her publication casino filled thousands of accounts. Mathematics helped professionals to fill pockets and not be afraid of responsibility. This did not happen if four military from aberdend did not develop the first card counting strategy. Then innovators did not imagine how much their work would be – after 50 years, they will receive public recognition of the community.

Team name four riders aberdin
players roger baldwin, wilbert carty, herbert majel, james mcdermott
period of activity 1953-2008


Four players got acquainted during the service on the aberdeen polygon.

Roger baldwin

Professional player was born on november 22, 1929. His father was an economist, and the mother is a trade union activist. Parents early broke up. After the divorce, the mother married roger nash baldwin – the founder of the american union of civil freedoms adopted her boys.

Most of the childhood of the future professor took place in greenwich-village mansion – the wealthy area of ​​new york. In 1951, roger got a bachelor in cornell university, and then a master in a columbian university.

Wilbert carty

In the group of mathematicians, he was the only african american. Wilbert grew up in a religious family. Faith was so strong that he intended to become a priest. Classes in the seminary turned out to be not so fun, so the young man spent most of the time in the billiard room with maps in his hands.

He switched to a regular school, and after her graduation he entered the service. By the time of the meeting with roger and the other participants of the wilbert team received the title of sergeant.



What do you know about counting cards in blackjack?

  • For the first time i hear
  • And what could it happen?
  • 15, 13, 16 – something from the movie "21"
  • I always consider cards, in a different way you can not win


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James mcdemmott

In high school mathematician studied perfectly. Proceedings paid off – james received a scholarship in columbia university. He dedicated to his studies for another 6 years, receiving a master's degree. Although he graduated from one university with baldwin, they never intersected the meeting in the army.

Herbert meizel

In childhood, he was considered a mathematical genius. When it came to tests, herbert always received a top score. After serving in the army, he became a professor of mathematics at georgetown university.

The game unites

Military at the aberdend polygon were looking for ways to improve the efficiency of weapons, passed stress tests and produced poisonous gases. Test participants looking for a way to distract from routine. Most simple tool to brighten leisure steel cards.

In one of the evenings, roger baldwin joined the table. Theten the colleagues introduced him to blackjack – before tat, the mathematician did not know the rules. The only detail took posger. The dealer always takes the map if there are less than 17 points on hand.

Baldwin began to evaluate chances in his head. He understood that the player cal calculate the likelihood of his own victory depending on the hand and the open card dealer. The first formulas were recorded on a piece of paper. He has not yet performed accurate calculations, but was sure that the dealer could beat.

Novator appealed to sergeant wilbert carty with a request to use military calculators to accelerate calculations. Baldwin got access to computing technology, but only in his free time. To speed ​​up the process, he needed help. So a group of four volunteers was formed:

  • Roger baldwin.
  • Wilbert carty.
  • Herbert maizel.
  • James mcdemmott.

Calculations occupied 18 monhs – about 1,000 people-hours.

In june 1954, baldwin is first sent to las vegas. Mathematics does not wait to check theory in practice. Then he went around 16 casinos.

Pioneer without money

In september 1956, the first scientific work appeared in the magazine of the american statistical association – "optimal blackjack strategy". Thousands of people interested 11 pages of text with formulas and explanations.

In 1957, it turns out the reissue in the form of a book "playing blackjack for victory: new strategy for game 21". Preface posted by charles wang doren, friend roger baldwin. American writer has become a twenty-one television show star from nbc. Thanks to the victories series, he won $ 129 thousand. – more than $ 1.1 million today.

The cost of the book amounted to $ 1.75.

A total of 5,000 copies were released. There was no photo of the authors on the cover. The team consisted of an african american, protestant, catholic and jew. The image of the dark-skinned could have a negative impact on sales. Although most of the books were sold out, each of the mathematicians earned about $ 28.

Roger baldwin later admitted, almost did not use his own strategy to play blackjack. The mathematician assumed that in the long run, the high probability of getting into minus. Since he possessed the greatest experience, other participants listened to his opinion, even though it turned out to be erroneous.

After 50 years, the released the reissue of the book to "play blackjack to victory" with the preface from arnold snidder and edward torp

The snag was in the assessment of maps. Mathematics incorrectly analyzed the influence of aces and a dozen. Because of this, their formula equalued the chances against the dealer, but almost did not give advantage. This mistake later corrected edward porp in the book "flight dealer". He did not become the first founder of the card counting strategy, but it was his approach later received widespread.

"Rephrasing isaac newton, if i saw on others, then this is because i stood on the shoulders of four giants," – edward torp in the preface of reprinting the book "playing blackjack to win" in 2008.

The path to the glory of 50 years long

Mathematics did not "rob" casino, and returned to your favorite case. James mcdermott worked for the government and later settled in ibm. Roger baldwin after the service returned to graduate school to engage in statistics and data processing. Herbert meizel began to teach at georgetown university, and wilbert carty continued to work for the government.

With the advent of the internet, the information about four riders leaked to the network. The fans of blackjack woke up interest in the original founders of the counting of cards.

Four fully from left to right: james mcdermott, wilbert cartey, herbert majel and roger baldwin

In 2003, the hall of fame blackjack appeared. Among the first members were edward torp, tommy highland, ken uston and others. Most of them were familiar with the difficulty of four riders from aberdeen. In 2008, they offered to include them in the hall of fame blackjack.

3 riders arrived at the solemn ceremony – herbert maizel could not attend. Honorary guests of a private parties in las vegas met ovations, and after the solemn ceremony they distributed several autographs. All four mathematicians supported the connection with each other, but never made rates in the casino.

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