Blackjack is the world’s most notoriously known casino game, from being featured in films such as “21” and “Rain Man” to its popularity in the world of online Live Casino games. Its sheer popularity is often attributed to its simplicity and ability to provide players with the impression that they themselves can control the outcome. Appearing in almost every casino, Blackjack is very much a game that separates the amateurs from the pros, due to its advanced techniques that really can be the difference between a win and a loss. Whether you’re a seasoned vet or just a fan of the game, check out some of the best blackjack players the world has to offer.
Starting off our list is the man often referred to as the godfather of counting. In 1962, Thorp wrote a book called ‘Playing Blackjack to Win’, which was the first published manuscript that mathematically proved blackjack was beatable using card counting techniques. He later tested this theory by playing blackjack games himself and managed to win an incredible $11,000 (£7,500) in one weekend. His achievements have earned him a place in the Blackjack Hall of Fame.
Considered the founder of card counting in blackjack, Ken Uston became widely known in the 1970s for his extraordinary blackjack skills that ended up winning him win millions of dollars. He became so good, several casinos banned him from merely entering their premises. However, Uston thwarted this obstacle by adopting various disguises and costumes in order to conceal his true identity, thus allowing him to continue playing. Eventually, Uston filed a lawsuit against these casinos and successfully overruled the ban on card counting players in blackjack. His popularity resulted in him being featured in the 2005 History Channel documentary “The Blackjack Man”.
John Ferguson (Stanford Wong)
Born in Georgia in 1943, Wong started his career as a teacher at Stanford University, Eventually agreeing to his employers paying him a rather minuscule amount of just one dollar for missing his faculty meetings – He was provided the freedom to visit various casinos and pursue his gambling career. His expertise helped him invent the strategy known as ‘wonging’, which is currently banned from most casinos. The technique involves the player only joining a game whilst the decks are favourable and stepping away immediately once the odds deteriorate. Wong’s well-known method is now the reasoning behind the “No Mid-Shoe Entry” signs in 21st-century casinos, which prohibit a player from joining the game before the first hand after a shuffle.
Back in the ’70s, the infamous Keith Taft began developing a small portable computer in that could be used to count cards. Unsurprisingly, no casino would allow a player to use such devices, considering it clearly unfair despite there being no real laws against such a device at the time. Therefore, Taft took his invention one step further by adapting it into a concealed device that could be hidden from casino staff. Against all odds, it worked, resulting in countless wins for Taft before the Casinos cracked down on the use of technological devices and it was banned by law in 1985. Although an incredible inventor, perhaps not a very good sportsman!
Best known as the manager of the longest-running blackjack team in History, Tommy Hyland’s team began in 1979, almost an incredible 40 years ago. No true figure exists of exactly how much his team has won in their years together, but it is known that they all put an initial $4,000 each into the team bankroll in the beginning, turning it into an incredible $50,000 in just a few months. In 1994, members of team Hyland were arrested for using a technique known as “ace-sequencing”, a shuffle tracking method generally considered as cheating. Fortunately for the team members, the courts ruled that the players weren’t actually cheating, but simply using a clever strategy. Hyland was selected by professional gamers as one of the seven original inductees into the Blackjack Hall of Fame.