Aug 6, 2021

The Best Blackjack Players in History

Edward Thorpe, Don Johnson and Al Francesco… these are just a few of the names of players who made incredible money thanks to blackjack. Most of them counted cards, but there are also university professors and mathematical geniuses among them. Meet the most successful blackjack players in the modern history of casinos.

In addition to the low house edge, playing blackjack has another undeniable advantage. Blackjack is a very popular game of chance because more experienced players can beat the game. It almost looks as if this great and fun game has a special aura that favors ready players here and there.

From players who went to the casino in disguises to count cards, to mathematical geniuses. In blackjack, you simply meet many different people. And as you will see in a moment, some of the players mentioned below have become world-famous personalities thanks to blackjack.

Lawrence Revere

Revere started blackjack very early. At the age of 13, he worked as a dealer in a barbershop in Iowa. He stayed with blackjack almost his entire life, because he later worked as a dealer in a casino, then as a pit boss and finally bought his casino. As a blackjack player, Revere came up with some very interesting systems and concepts.

Together with Julian Braun, he introduced several simplified systems in his book called Playing Blackjack as a Business. His work focused on making systems easier to understand even for novice players. There were also some tips on how to start counting cards in blackjack.

James Grosjean

Grosjean became interested in blackjack when he graduated from the University of Chicago. Since then, he has become one of the best players in modern blackjack history. He became a champion in several styles and methods of play with an advantage. He could count cards, he could correctly guess the dealer's hidden card, and he was just as good at watching the shuffling of cards. Grosjean mentions all three of these methods in his best-known book Beyond Counting: Exploiting Casino Games from Blackjack to Video Poker.

Thanks to his blackjack success, however, he spent much of his life defending his person in court. Over the years, he has won lawsuits with Caesar's Palace, Imperial Palace and Griffin Investigations, for example.

Arnold Snyder

The only reason Snyder isn't even higher on our list is the fact that he hasn't earned any legendary honors, like the rest of the blackjack geniuses. But his contribution is unquestionable and he has helped millions of players improve their blackjack game. Arnold is also famous for his deck penetration concept, which is an indicator of the number of cards that are played before the deck is shuffled again. Also, he has written several books about blackjack, the most famous of which are The Blackjack Formula, The Blackjack Shuffle Tracker's Cookbook, Blackbelt in Blackjack and others.

Tommy Hyland

No matter what successes they have achieved, most blackjack teams had ended up either due to increased interest from casinos or simply because team members have burned out and been tired of this way of life. But Hyland's team was an exception, especially at the time of his greatest glory in 1979. Yes, of course, several members of the team changed over time, but Hyland remained the main boss.

This unique group of people used several methods that brought them an advantage, including monitoring mixing, using computer programs and sorting aces. But in the end, Hyland's team was arrested at Casino Windsor in Canada. However, the subsequent court acquitted them and ruled that aces sorting was not a fraudulent tactic. No members of the group were subsequently found guilty.

Bill Kaplan

Very few players have achieved such success as Kaplan in their careers. Together with J.P. Massar created perhaps the most famous team that counted blackjack cards - the MIT Blackjack Team. The chaplain coached Massar and his friends, who subsequently became the best players. Immediately after the demanding training, they began making tons of money in casinos around the world and recruited more members to their team. At the time of its greatest glory, the MIT blackjack team had over 70 players, each earning millions of dollars over the years.

Stanford Wong

The real name of this legend is John Ferguson, who almost always played under the pseudonym Stanford Wong. He began his career as a college professor at San Francisco University. But over time, he fell in love with blackjack and spent most of his time playing the game. In the mid-1970s, he began creating his own counting methods and wrote the book Professional Blackjack.

His work was very successful and brought Wong to the position of one of the greatest blackjack player. His position in the world of blackjack has improved even more after he came up with the "wonging" method. The point is that the player watches the game without betting. As soon as he finds that the numbers are in his favor, he sits down at the table and starts betting. And thanks to this method, casinos are very careful these days and allow you to sit at a table only after shuffling.

Ken Uston

Some people consider Uston to be the best blackjack player in the world. For others, he's just a good player, but he's probably best known for making incredible money by counting cards. As a former vice president of the stock exchange company, Uston, after meeting with Al Francesco, fell in love with blackjack. He then learned from Francesco and then even published books The Big Player and Million Dollar Blackjack.

Later, Uston created his team of blackjack players, which was very successful thanks to both his methods and several clever decisions. The blackjack guru also won a lawsuit against Atlantic City casinos.

Al Francesco

If we are going to talk about the players who contributed the most to the development of the blackjack strategy, we must mention Al Francesca. He was inspired by Edward Thorpe and became a very successful counter, but he played alone, not with the team. But then came the complications, because he was not allowed in most casinos. Even this complication could not keep Francesca from blackjack.

He came up with his "big player" concept, which included a team of six card counters and one big player. Of course, the big player earned the most on this game system, while the rest of the team counted tables and supported him in making the right decisions. This strategy brought Al and his team millions of dollars, but after the publication of Uston's book The Big Player in 1977, it was useless.

Don Johnson

While most successful blackjack players in history have benefited from counting cards, Don Johnson has taken a completely different approach. As a former manager of Philadelphia's Parx Casino, Johnson had a very good knowledge of gambling, especially blackjack. In addition, he was a mathematical genius who began providing online help with horse betting. Several casinos in Atlantic City had absolutely no idea about Don's abilities and let him negotiate rules at blackjack's high-stakes tables. As a result, he cost Atlantic City casinos of an incredible $ 17 million with a basic blackjack strategy alone.

Edward Thorpe

You can read from some sources that the Thorpe invented card counting. And while that's not true, he remains the most influential counter in history of blackjack. In the days before Thorp, most of the techniques used by more experienced players were still imperfect, and the players did not always end up with a profit. But the professor at MIT, thanks to his perfect knowledge of mathematics, came up with a system that could be used by the player counting the cards himself. Thorpe subsequently proved the functionality of his system by winning decent money in blackjack. But as usual, the casino soon saw his game and banned him from entering their premises. But even so, Thorpe did not stop destroying casinos. In 1962, he published a book called Beat the Dealer. It was this publication that gave thousands of players around the world the idea of counting blackjack cards.

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