Counting Cards

As part of a course I took, I was tasked to perform a semester-long research project on a topic of my choosing. I had a nascent interest in blackjack after seeing the film 21, and wanted to learn more about the history and mathematics behind how/why card counting worked for the MIT blackjack team so well.

This research project was my first introduction of Monte-Carlo methods, probability and expectation, and game theory. Little did I know how intimately familiar I would become with these topics as a graduate student

I learned that incredible amounts of patience and just the right mixture of circumstances needs to take place in order for card counting to be a profitable venture. At best, the theory only supports a 1% return on investment. I presented my results at the GREAT Day conference later that year.

Michael Pilosov
(applied) math nerd on a mission.


The use of card counting in Blackjack has received considerable media attention in the past decade. Basic strategy is simple to …
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