Stanford Wong self-published his first book, Professional Blackjack, in 1975. It was later published by the Gambler’s Book Club in Las Vegas, then revised and expanded numerous times and published by Wong’s own company, Pi Yee Press.
Wong is widely regarded as one of the sharpest analysts of systems and methods for beating the casinos. In Professional Blackjack, he described a never-before-revealed table-hopping style of playing shoe games, a method of play now known as wonging. Professional Blackjack had a profound impact on serious players because it provided card counters with an easy yet powerful method for attacking the abundant four-deck shoe games that had taken over Las Vegas. Many pros still think of card-counting opportunities as “pre-Wong” and “post-Wong.” (more…)
Uston burst onto the scene in 1977 with the publication of The Big Player, co-authored with Roger Rapaport. In this book, Uston exposed the secrets of Al Francesco’s big player teams. The book caused a falling out between Al and Ken that lasted for years, as Al felt Ken had betrayed his trust as well as his teammates.
But there is no denying that the book caused an upheaval in the world of card counting, changing the ways that professionals looked at the game and attacked it. Three of the most successful international blackjack teams-the Tommy Hyland team, the MIT team, and the Czech team-all were founded in 1978, the year after Uston’s book was published. (more…)
Edward Oakley Thorp is widely regarded, by professional players as well as the general public, as the Father of Card Counting. It was in his book, Beat the Dealer, first published in 1962, that he presented his Ten-Count system, the first powerful winning blackjack system ever made available to the public. All card-counting systems in use today are variations of Thorp’s Ten-Count.
When Thorp’s book became a best seller, the Las Vegas casinos attempted to change the standard rules of blackjack, but their customers would not accept the changes and refused to play the new version of the game. So, the Vegas casinos went back to the old rules, but switched from dealing hand-held one-deck games to four-deck shoe games, a change that the players would accept. Unfortunately for the casinos, in 1966 Thorp’s revised second edition of Beat the Dealer was published. This edition presented the High-Low Count, as developed by Julian Braun, a more powerful and practical counting system for attacking these new shoe games. (more…)
Keith is not well known to the general public, but among professional players he is revered as an electronics genius who has spent more than thirty years devising high-tech equipment-computers, video cameras, and communication devices-to beat the casinos. Blackjack was his initial target, and always remained his prime target. His first blackjack computer, which he completed in 1972, weighed fifteen pounds. Over the years, as computer chip technology developed, his computers became smaller, faster, and lighter. By the mid-1970s, he had a device that weighed only a few ounces that could play perfect strategy based on the exact cards remaining to be dealt. (more…)
Max is the author of Comp City, first published in 1994, with an expanded second edition published in 2002. In this groundbreaking book, Max exposed techniques even non-counting players could use to get an advantage over the casinos by exploiting weaknesses in the casinos’ comp systems. Max’s inside information came from his years of experience in the industry as a dealer, pit boss, and casino manager. Max still does consulting work for the Barona Casino in California.
The initial manuscript for Comp City included advanced comp-hustling techniques that could be used by professional card counters, but the editors at Huntington Press decided to delete this section from the book in order to appeal to the wider market of recreational players. These excluded portions were published in Blackjack Forum in June 1994, and can be found now in the BlackjackForumOnline.com Library.
Lawrence Revere was both an author and a serious player. He died in 1977. His only book, Playing Blackjack as a Business, initially published in 1969, is still in print. If you look at the “true count” methods being employed pre-Revere, you will see why Revere was inducted into the hall of fame. The earlier methods were cumbersome and mentally fatiguing to use. In the second edition of Beat the Dealer, in which Thorp first proposed the Hi-Lo Count, he mentioned a simplified method of using the count, though he failed to develop it as a full system. Revere had a leap of brilliance that led him to come to the conclusion that the simplified method of obtaining a “true count” that Thorp had mentioned could be fully developed and employed with the most powerful of point count systems. Revere’s method was so simple compared to the alternatives, it has been employed by virtually every serious balanced point count system developer since, including Stanford Wong, Ken Uston, Lance Humble, Bryce Carlson, Arnold Snyder, and others. As a serious player, Revere’s knowledge of the game included such esoteric techniques as shuffle tracking and hole card play.
Tommy started playing blackjack professionally in 1978 while still in college. That was also the year he started his first informal “team.” He’s never looked back. For more than twenty-five years, he has been running the longest-lasting and most successful blackjack team in the history of the game. He and his teammates have played in casinos all over the U.S., Canada, and the world. He has used big player techniques, concealed computers (when they were legal), and had one of the most successful “ace location” teams ever. He has personally been barred, back-roomed, hand-cuffed, arrested, and even threatened with murder at gun-point by a casino owner he had beaten at the tables. Every year, the Hyland team players take millions of dollars out of the casinos. And even though Tommy has had his name and photo published in the notorious Griffin books more times than any other player in history, he continues to play and beat the games wherever legal blackjack games are offered. He has also fought for players’ rights by battling the casinos in the courts. (more…)
Peter was the math genius who first proposed using the mathematical shortcuts developed by statisticians for estimating answers to highly complex problems in analyzing and comparing blackjack card-counting systems. He was the first to break down the potential gains available from any card-counting method to two prime factors: the betting correlation (ВС) and the playing efficiency (PE). These two parameters facilitated highly accurate estimation of any system’s potential win rate in any game using any betting spread, without extensive computer simulations. He described how these methods could be used to evaluate the differences between single-level and multi-level counting systems, as well as the value of using multi-parameter methods (keeping more than one count). This book was a milestone for system researchers, developers, and players as the most important analysis of card-counting systems since Thorp’s Beat the Dealer. (more…)
Al is one of the most highly respected blackjack players in the history of the game. This is the guy who literally invented team play at blackjack and taught Ken Uston how to count cards. Ken once said to me, “I owe everything to Al, Arnold. He really might be the greatest blackjack player there ever was, and he’s also a real gentleman.”
Al is primarily known to the general public through Ken Uston’s books as the mas¬termind who created the big player (BP) team concept. Al started his first blackjack team in the early 1970s, and until Uston’s first book, The Big Player, was published in 1977, Al’s teams were completely invisible to the casinos and extracted millions of dollars from them.
Virtually all of the most successful blackjack teams that came after The Big Player was published—the Hyland team, the MIT team, the Czech team, the Greeks—used Al’s BP concept to disguise their attacks, and that approach is still being employed profitably by teams today.
Professional players know Al for his highly inventive approaches to beating the casinos, though all of his methods cannot be written about because they are still in use by players. An in-depth interview with Al Francesco appeared in the Summer 2002 issue of Blackjack Forum and can be found in the BlackjackForumOnline.com Library.
Julian Braun died in 2000 and his only book, How to Play Winning Blackjack, is long out of print. For ten years in the early days of card counting, he did a vast amount of the computer work for some of the top authors. He did the program-ming for the second edition of E.O. Thorp’s Beat the Dealer. His programs were used to develop all of Lawrence Revere’s systems, as well as the Hi-Opt systems. Of the “pre-Stanford Wong” professional players (the pros playing before the first edition of Wong’s Professional Blackjack came out in 1975), most were using either Thorp’s Ten-Count, Thorp’s Hi-Lo, Hi-Opt I, Hi-Opt II, Revere’s Point Count, Revere’s +/-, or Revere’s Advanced Point Count. These were the most popular and widely dissemi-nated systems in use for about ten years, and Julian Braun’s programs were used to develop all of them!