Just like in any game, there will always be some very talented people. Over time, these talented blackjack players have become famous for their talents, exploits, and how they played within the casino. They have contributed much, as we would not know as much about playing blackjack, in practice and theory if they had not been around. This would include basic strategy, card counting, and other blackjack advantages. The following is a short list of some of the most influential and famous blackjack players known presently.
Thorp is famous for introducing and using the theories of card counting, where he authored the book, Beat the Dealer in 1962. The book is shows readers how card counting is used to beat the house advantage in blackjack. He used computers to improve his strategies, where he proceeded to test his theories. When casinos used to shuffle the blackjack decks near the end of the shoe, Thorp was able to make big profits, but was banned from a lot of Las Vegas casinos. The movie 21, starring Kevin Spacey, uses some of his exploits, as well as Ben Mezrich’s book, Bringing Down the House.
Blackjack is not the only aspect that made Thorp famous and a genius. He was also involved in advantage plays in other casino games, like the roulette wheel. He didn’t stay in gambling much longer, as he proved to be quite good at predicting the stock market and becoming successful at hedge funds; he is currently worth $800 million dollars.
Uston, another fellow mathematician, found himself drawn to blackjack. He was born as Kenneth Senzo Usui in New York City, where he studied and became a VP in the Pacific Stock Exchange. He later went on to read Thorps, Beat the Dealer, and he started to spend more and more time in casinos. He became a world renown blackjack player by 1979, where he was banned from playing in casinos around the world. This did not stop him, as he was able to disguise himself and continue counting cards. He won a lawsuit he filed against Atlantic City, as the state of New Jersey determined that the casinos could not ban someone for card counting.
Uston was always fascinated by numbers and statistics, which is what had drawn him into blackjack in the first place. However, he was also very interested in video games, like PAC-Man, Pong, and Breakout. He even went on to write the book Mastering PAC-MAN, a guide to playing the game like an expert. Regrettably, Uton passed away in 1987, but we will always have his knowledge on blackjack.
Stanford Wong is actually the pen name of John Ferguson, who is a famous author and blackjack player. He has written a total of 15 books, with his most notorious and popular book, Professional Blackjack; the first in his long career. When Wong played blackjack at a casino table, he would usually sit out and wait until the shoe and count turned into the player’s favor; usually referred to as “Wonging”.
Wong led a relatively quiet life, writing his books not only about blackjack, but of other topics like craps and sports gambling. He managed to give beginners and average players great insight into the world of gambling, and probably helped more than one player get good at beating the house in blackjack.