29th January 2023

Quantum entanglement versus casino

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Max Wolf

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have shown that using models based on the quantum entanglement effect can increase the chances of players teaming up to beat the casino.

The problem of how to beat the casino in the popular card game blackjack began to be worked out in the United States back in the late 70s. Then students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University came up with a team tactic that allows you to leave casino dealers in the red. The idea was for the players at the table to work as a team, telling each other what cards they received and thereby increasing the chances of calculating the variants of cards that will be dealt from the deck on the next turn.

This computational strategy, or rather the age-old idea of ​​outwitting the casino, which received unexpected support from mathematicians, as one would expect, gained immense popularity. And not only among scientists and fans of gambling, but also among the broadest masses, who are always pleased to believe that casinos can be “fooled”. The best-selling book Bringing Down the House has been written about this, and many popular films have been made about it.

In 2020, Massachusetts and California decided to test whether it is still possible to improve the scheme of the team play against the casino by using the effect of quantum entanglement. The mathematical model of this phenomenon was described in 1964 by physicist John Bell. He proved that quantum entanglement can exist and also developed a test known as the Bell test. On its basis, scientists check the behavior of particles and systems in order to understand whether they behave in accordance with the laws of classical, real physics, or can exhibit properties corresponding to quantum, entangled states.

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One of the reasons for working on a new strategy for beating casinos was the specific implementation of Bell’s test. It is known that the people who wrote the blackjack rules did not think about quantum entanglement. Scientists decided to find out how effectively this miscalculation can be used, that is, is there and how significant is the quantum effect of entanglement between the cards that are dealt to the players?

By simulating thousands of test rounds for each of three specially designed interaction scenarios between two players teaming up against a casino, the researchers found that the fewer cards left in the deck, the greater the effect of quantum entanglement. And accounting for it can give players more and more significant advantages over the classic scheme of the 70s, which involved card counting. That is, even for a team of two players, but with large financial resources, the chances of beating the casino increase significantly.

Do these results mean that future teams of blackjack players can always win, using quantum strategies (and quantum computers) to their advantage? Scientists believe that a very large investor will be required to develop a device that can be used for these purposes in real life, but if the idea is developed, then the presence of a quantum computer “in a backpack” is likely to lead to the collapse of a casino where blackjack is played.

But, as long as quantum computers are not put in a backpack, the casino can consider itself in a certain safety from new intricate technologies.

Quantum computer

Vicky O. Torres

My name is Vicky O. Torres. I am a psychologist by profession, and I love my work very much. And in general, I am an active seeker of truth, silence and beauty of the world.

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