Can Quantum Entanglement Really Help You Win At Blackjack?

Every
blackjack player wants to find an edge over their opponents, right?

You’ll be using strategy and mathematics when you play your normal game, often without even realizing it, while others employ more intentional systems like card counting.

But
have you ever thought about using quantum entanglement?

Er
no, neither had we.

Not
simply the stuff of an implausible Hollywood plot, the use of this high-flying
theory to beat the house in blackjack has actually now been studied at length,
by no less than the bigwigs at MIT.

And
they should know.

Famously, the university’s very own blackjack team managed to beat the house at casinos for over a decade, by working as a team to count cards. It was even made into a book and later inspired a couple of movies.

But quantum entanglement is not necessarily only an exercise for academics to test in lectures and labs. If you know the basic rules of blackjack, you might just be able to make quantum entanglement work for you.

In
this piece, we’ll find out exactly what quantum entanglement really is, why it
matters in blackjack and whether everyday players can take advantage of it too.

Quantum
Entanglement Who?

Starting
with the important stuff: what exactly is quantum entanglement? Well, we have
to delve into the realms of quantum mechanics to find out.

Quantum entanglement is a term that describes two separate objects or particles that have become ‘entangled’ or which ‘correlate’ with each other so much so that, according to MIT News, “the correlations between them are stronger than what would be predicated by the classical laws of physics and probability”.

Meaning…they
are not completely independent from each other, even when separated, and can
potentially inform each other’s outcomes.

We also like the explanation in Forbes, which acknowledges that quantum entanglement is “one of the weirdest ideas in modern physics”, before going on to sum it up as being when “two entangled particles, no matter where they are in the Universe, can communicate their states with one another instantaneously.”

So
if we have two separate but connected objects that can communicate, how does
this impact blackjack?

Of
course, it’s all about the cards you’re dealt… and the correlations between
them, influenced by the fact that they are from the same deck and that there
are only a limited number of cards available.

Is
the idea of entanglement at play? Some MIT and Caltech academics
recently decided to find out.

Dealing
From The Same Deck

In an experiment, published in July 2020 in Physical Review A, the authors examined advantages gained from using quantum strategies in the popular casino game.

Using
the idea of “cooperative, two-party sequential games in which a single
classical bit of communication is allowed from the player who moves first to the
player who moves second”, they deduced that the second player ultimately could
gain a slight advantage.

This
was done by the players sharing a mathematical model, which they ask readers to
imagine as ‘box’ or a measuring method, to inform their choices, with the
second player using both their own choices based on the ‘box’ system, as well
as the first player’s choices to inform their move, or lack of one.

When
compared against two other scenarios including player one showing player two
their card and card-counting (without communication), over thousands of rounds
of blackjack, the quantum entanglement strategy did hand a better (but still
small) advantage to player two than the card counting did.

So,
Can Quantum Entanglement Work for You?

Every
time you take to the table, as a blackjack player you make decisions on whether
to keep the cards you’ve been dealt or accept a new one to build the best hand.

The
aim is to get closest to, but not over, the ideal number of 21 than either your
rivals or the dealer.

So,
of course, any system that can theoretically provide you with more information,
even if it’s not tangible information, such as the exact card value, should
influence your play and give you an advantage boost.

Yet,
it’s worth noting that the results from this latest MIT experiment still only
gave players a slight advantage over the dealer.

Though
this seems to have occurred when the dealer’s deck was down to the bare bones –
which makes sense if you think about it – with a fuller deck meaning there are
more card possibilities to come unstuck on.

But
could you implement your own ‘entanglement theory’ on your next game by
agreeing with a partner on a system that would inform your choices?

Co-author
of the publication, Joseph Formaggio, told MIT News that for maximum effect you’d
“require a very large investor, and my guess is, carrying a quantum computer in
your backpack will probably tip the house. We think casinos are safe right now”.

So
no, you don’t have to be an MIT blackjack physics whizz to use quantum
entanglement in your game.

But you might need to meet a generous casino whale as, to see the benefit of the theory, you’ll need both a formula and big financial backing…

But hey, if you fancy your chances (and are way smarter at physics than us), then you can always test your knowledge and skills over at some of the best online blackjack casinos.

If
nothing else, you can play for fun.

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