Who Are the Kings of Blackjack?

by Staff & Contributors

One of, if not the most popular card game in history, the art of blackjack has turned many an aspiring card player into multi-millionaires (and internet heroes). The game has been featured in countless films, shows, and of course, pro events across the globe. With some of the best players in the world going on to launch clothing lines, book deals and more, let’s take a look at a few of the greatest and most successful players of them all, and how they influenced the game.

Edward Thorp

Opening with a gentleman, often referred to as the godfather of card counting, Ed Thorp published a book called ‘Playing Blackjack to Win’, released back in 1962. This was the first published work that officially and mathematically proved that blackjack was beatable using card counting. His achievements eventually earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame, after he eventually tried his own techniques out, winning an impressive $11,000 (£7,500) in a single weekend.

Keith Taft

This player coming in second on our list, isn’t exactly what you’d call your standard online blackjack pro. Despite being incredibly intelligent, and a very solid player, he found it considerably easier to use homemade technology to help him win by counting cards. In 1985, it was finally made illegal to use any type of tech to affect the outcome in a casino.

Tommy Hyland

The head of the longest-running blackjack team in history, Tommy Hyland has been in the business since 1979. Despite there being no exact figure of how much Hyland and his crew have won in their time, the initial team each put $4,000 into the first team bankroll. This eventually grew to approximately $50,000 within only a handful of months. In 1994 members of his team were arrested for using a shuffle tracking method that is generally considered cheating. Thankfully for the players, the judge ruled that the players’ conduct wasn’t technically cheating, instead merely an intelligent tactic. For all his successes, Hyland was eventually elected as one of the original inductees into the Blackjack Hall of Fame.

John Ferguson (Stanford Wong)

Starting off his life as a tutor, Stanford Wong agreed to allow Stanford University to pay him a miniscule $1 for missing his work meetings. This provided him the freedom to travel to various casinos whilst pursuing his gambling career. His talent helped develop the ridiculously titled strategy known as “wonging”. Although currently banned from just about every casino, the technique involves the player only joining a game when the decks are favourable, then immediately stepping away once the odds decrease. This tactic is the reasoning casinos brought in the “No Mid-Shoe Entry”, prohibiting a player from joining a game before the first hand after a shuffle.

Ken Uston

Considered by many to be the founder of card counting in the blackjack world, New York born Ken Uston was well known during the seventies for his incredible skills that earned him a fortune. After being banned from countless casinos due to his ability to consistently win, Uston became a master of disguise, allowing him to continue to play under the radar. He eventually sued a number of casinos for banning him, eventually getting the bans upturned.

Did we miss anyone? Think we’re off the mark with our list? Be sure to let us know, and drop us a comment to let us know what you think!

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