Famous Blackjack Players

Over the decades blackjack has transformed into one of the most played casino games of all time, with a few key players who have been instrumental in developing it into what it is today. The impact that these 4 people have had on the game, the rules and how casinos deal with skilled players is almost as important as the game itself.

Edward Thorp

2 guys playing blackjack

Edward Thorp is a mathematics professor who is well known for 2 very important advances in blackjack. In 1962 he published a book called “Beat The Dealer” which found itself on the New York best seller list. This book explored the probabilities of blackjack and explained how card counting could be used to shift the advantage into the players favour.

The second thing that Edward Thorp is famous for is his invention of the first wearable computer. He combined this technology with his research in blackjack and used the computer to help him win at the tables.

While card counting was never declared illegal, a court did however outlaw the use of computers to gain an advantage in blackjack.

Ken Uston

The unstoppable blackjack player who worked his way up in a card counting team to become the big player, formed his own team and perfected the concept, winning huge amounts of money and consequently getting banned.

Despite being barred from entering casinos Ken Uston became a master of disguise shamelessly spreading his bets from the minimum to maximum. Uston was also successful in suing the New Jersey casinos. The courts ruled that card counting was not illegal and that it was simply another strategy employed by skilled blackjack players.

This court decision forced casinos to mix up their rules by either adding more decks, reducing penetration, preventing doubling and other tactics that reduced the player’s advantage.

Stanford Wong

Born in the early 1940’s as John Ferguson, Stanford Wong is better known by his pseudonym and was made well known after publishing his book Professional Blackjack.

With his doctorate in finance, Wong was no stranger to numbers, probability and odds. In addition to his book he also created a computer program designed to analyse blackjack odds.

He too headed a team of card counters that tore up a number of Las Vegas casinos and he is credited with perfecting the concept of ‘wonging’. His big player would sit and watch the game, all the while counting the cards to determine the point at which the cards became favourable to the player. Then he would ‘wong in’ and start playing. As soon as the count ran in favor of the house, he would step out, also referred to as ‘wonging out’.

This method hart the casinos even more since they were unable to cash in on the players losses while the count ran in the casinos favour. Today many casinos will prevent new players from joining in-between shuffles specifically to avoid this.

These legends in the field of blackjack caused a great deal of trouble for the casinos who had to take steps to prevent huge losses. A few of these counter measures include increasing the amount of decks in a game, lowering table limits, lowering penetration (shuffling the cards way before they had all been dealt) and adding rule variations to shift the advantage ever so slightly into their favour.

 

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