Hall of Fame in the blackjack game

businessIn an industry that rolls with the dice, it is not often that you see mastery celebrated. After all, casinos see luck as mathematical representation of profits but mastery is when those profits going down the drain. But in the walls of the Barona Casino in San Diego, California, you will not see photos of people who got lucky with a big slot payout. Instead, you will see a celebration of mastery and a tribute to the names behind the game of 21.

Looking Back at the Beginning

It was 2002 and the card games were gaining popularity around the world. This prompted the Barona Casino in San Diego, California to start the Blackjack Hall of Fame to capitalize on that popularity and attract visitors to the casino. The casino gives each inductee to the Hall of Fame a lifetime comp for food, beverage and a full room, as long as the member never plays on Barona’s tables.

In winter of that year, 21 professional players, experts and authors were nominated for membership followed by a month-long online public voting. In January 2003, the first seven members of the Blackjack Hall of Fame were announced at the Blackjack Ball, an exclusive event for professional players and experts hosted by Max Rubin.

The Magic Seven

  1. Al Francesco

Al Francesco started with card games while growing up in Gary, Indiana and was earning at least $5,000 each year from it. When Edward Thorp published Beat the Dealer, Francesco knew this was the card counting concept he needed to master to win big. He became unbeatable at the tables, which prompted a lot of casinos to ban him. But real money blackjack was already in his system and in 1971, he went back to the tables with a new counting method and assembled members of his team to beat the casinos.

  1. Edward Thorp

Known as the godfather of card counting, Edward Thorp published his bestselling book “Beat the Dealer” in 1962, which was the first manual for card counting. Using his knowledge in science and mathematics, the professor developed the card counting method that is still the foundation of all systems you see in blackjack today.

  1. Ken Uston

The author of “Million Dollar Blackjack,” Ken Uston was one of only a few players who were able to master card counting and apply it consistently on the tables to win millions in casinos. The Yale and Harvard graduate has an amazing aptitude in mathematics and he used this to master and improve Thorp’s principles in “Beat the Dealer” to make millions in Las Vegas.

  1. Peter Griffin

One thing that a lot of legends share is their excellence in mathematics. Peter Griffin came from a family of mathematicians and became a professor himself at California State University-Sacramento. Griffin made a proposal for a class that taught the mathematics of gambling in his university and tested out different methods and probabilities by going to Las Vegas. By compiling statistics from players in Las Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City, Griffin was able to tell the difference in the house edge for every location and was one of the first to precisely calculate the percentages of blackjack.

  1. Arnold Snyder

While Arnold Snyder was mostly known for his books “Blackbelt in Blackjack,” “The Blackjack Formula,” and “The Big Book of Blackjack,” he was also one of the strongest advocates for players around the world. Snyder was also one of the first players to emphasize the importance of deck penetration, which was discussed extensively in “The Blackjack Formula.”

  1. Stanford Wong

Born as John Ferguson in 1943, Stanford Wong used a pseudonym for most of his blackjack career and started studying the different probabilities of blackjack at the age of 12. After publishing his book “Professional Blackjack” in 1975, Wong became widely popular among those who want to learn the tricks of the game that the term “wonging” was used by players to describe how they would observe a game until it becomes favorable for them to join in.

  1. Tommy Hyland

What started with “pitching pennies” became a successful career for Tommy Hyland who managed one of the longest running blackjack teams in the world. From two members, Hyland went on to form a four-member team who racked up more than $100,000 dollars in 1979. While he was also involved in controversies including his team’s arrest in Canada for alleged cheating, he was able to clear his name, thanks to the defense of his colleagues in the industry.

The Bottomline

With their contribution to the game and its continued success, each of these legends definitely deserve a place in the Blackjack Hall of Fame.



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