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Harvey Dubner - The Forgotten Man of Blackjack
Advantage Player
by Jerry Patterson

It is interesting to speculate on what might have transpired if nothing more would have been done in the development of card counting systems following the 1962 publication of Thorp’s book. The game certainly would not have been as popular because of reasons noted in earlier articles and few, if any, additional Blackjack books might have been published. Thorp and his cumbersome ten-count system probably would have been forgotten and you may never have heard of Lawrence Revere, Ken Uston, Lance Humble, Richard Canfield, or Jerry Patterson. Additional work was done and it was formulated by a man who has since become “The Forgotten Man of Blackjack!” His name is Harvey Dubner and he invented the Point-count System—the system that led to scores of developmental projects, over 100 published Blackjack books with the end not yet in sight, Blackjack teams, concealed computers, and shuffle-tracking.

Why isn’t Harvey Dubner recognized for his point-count system—a fantastic contribution to the world of Blackjack? What is the impact of this early breakthrough on the current state of the art in Blackjack card counting systems? To find the answer to these two questions, we must start by moving forward one year after the first edition of Thorp’s book was published in 1962—to the Fall Joint Computer Conference held in Las Vegas in 1963. On a whim, the conference organizers decided to include a panel session on “Using Computers in Games of Chance and Skill.” Ed Thorp, author of the all-time best selling Blackjack book, Beat The Dealer, was designated as chairman of the panel and experts on the various casino games, including Blackjack, Roulette and Baccarat, were invited to speak, this author among them. You can guess who stole the show—Harvey Dubner with his description of his High/Low Point-count method.

I’ll never forget that session for as long as I live. Not realizing that most “computerniks” (as they were called at that time, borrowing the suffix from the Russian Sputnik satellite) were also inveterate Blackjack players, they scheduled the panel discussion in one of their smaller meeting rooms. The room filled up and overflowed forty-five minutes before the session was scheduled to start! Hundreds of conference attendees were pushing and shoving to get into the room. The crowd, of course, had been drawn by Thorp. They were expecting revelations on the game and anticipated using his imparted wisdom immediately following the session to make a killing at the Blackjack tables. Thorp moderated the panel and introduced the speakers one by one.

When Dubner was introduced, he gave a short background discussion on how he had come to invent the point-count method leading to advantage Blackjack, then described the approach. Dubner kept a count of remaining high cards (10, J, Q, K, A) and low cards (2, 3, 4, 5, 6) as the cards were played and divided its difference by total cards left to play. He called the result the High-Low Ratio and used this to size his bet. His presentation was enthusiastically received by the crowd and he was given a round of applause at its conclusion. At the conclusion of the panel discussion Dubner was mobbed by the crowd all wanting copies of his handout on the point-count system. Here at last, many were saying, is a system that is practical, that can actually be used in the real world of casino play. Dubner’s High-Low Ratio led to the development of The High/Low Point-count System still used by a majority of card counters today.

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