In December 1990, a newsletter by the name of "21 News" first appeared.  The newsletter was a compilation of articles posted on the old Usenet group rec.gambling.blackjack. Its editor, Michael Hall, stated "The big advantage of the current nonprofit format is that there are no legal hassles with redistributing articles originally posted on computer news groups. Nobody has to get paid, and nobody expects to get paid." The newsletter was advertised as "Free by E-mail." As far as I know, only three issues were ever published, the first one in December 1990, and again in January/February 1991 and finally March/April 1991.

This newsletter was innovative and grew fast. "21 News" contained fresh and accurate details on blackjack card counting conditions, along with articles on advantage play against some of the popular games of the day. Some of this information is as important today as it was when these newsletters were first published. In particular, there are articles on the highly beatable "Over/Under" blackjack side bet, on card counting "Double Exposure Blackjack," and on shuffle tracking single-deck and six-deck games. In other words, APs had already moved beyond blackjack card counting.

In the third issue, Michael Hall wrote: "I must say, I'm totally blown away ... The quality and quantity of articles has improved tremendously ... so much so, that I had to cut out some very good articles from this issue, saving them for next time." If there was a next time, I haven't been able to find it. Perhaps a reader can catch us up on what happened to this shooting star.

Here is the cover of the first edition of 21 News:

Cover of the first edition of 21 News

In case you are wondering, in the banner at the top, in the computer screen on the left, the binary number 10101 (base 2) appears. In base 10 its value is:

10101 (base 2) = 1*16 + 0*8 + 1*4 + 0*2 + 1*1 = 21.

There is much to be gained by carefully reading through these old newsletters. Both because of the nostalgia of reading about the mindset of advantage players from another time, and because much of the information is still current and useful, both for the AP and for game protection.

Here are the newsletters:

TwentyOne_News_v1n1, December 1990

TwentyOne_News_v1n2, January/February 1991

TwentyOne_News_v1n3, March/April 1991

Received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Arizona in 1983. Eliot has been a Professor of both Mathematics and Computer Science. Eliot retired from academia in 2009. Eliot Jacobson