The Man Who Broke Atlantic City

Mark Bowden on Don Johnson, the man who beat Atlantic City casinos for around $15 million — without counting cards.

Bowden is a bit misleading about card counting, implying that it’s a form of quasi-cheating (he says Johnson won “fair and square”). But card counting is totally fair — card counters are only making use of information that can be gleaned by observing the exposed cards. The difference between card counting and what Johnson did is more subtle and more interesting. Successful card counters must operate in secret, disguising what they’re actually doing, because the casinos don’t want to allow it. Johnson played openly. The casinos knew exactly what he was trying to do and they not only let him, but encouraged him.

Thursday, 29 March 2012