Blackjack, a popular card game in casinos across the globe, has seen numerous professional players rise to fame over the years. These highly skilled individuals have managed to master the game, utilizing various strategies and techniques to gain an edge over the house. Although many players have excelled in this game, some have truly left their mark in the world of blackjack. In this article, we'll take a look at the world's best blackjack players, delving into their backgrounds, accomplishments, and the strategies they used to achieve their success.
1. Edward O. Thorp
Edward O. Thorp is often regarded as the best blackjack player of all time, and for good reason. A mathematics professor by profession, Thorp used his knowledge of statistics and probabilities to develop groundbreaking strategies for blackjack, ultimately revolutionizing the game. His book, "Beat the Dealer," published in 1962, was the first to prove that players could gain an advantage over the casino by counting cards. This work became a bestseller and introduced card counting to the masses.
- Developed the first wearable computer to aid in card counting
- Inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame as one of the seven original members
- Made significant contributions to the field of probability theory and its applications in finance
2. Don Johnson
Don Johnson is another legendary figure in the world of blackjack. His claim to fame came in 2011 when he won a staggering $15 million from three Atlantic City casinos in just six months. Johnson was able to achieve this feat by negotiating favorable rules with the casinos, essentially gaming the system to gain a mathematical edge.
- Won $15 million in six months by gaming casino rules
- Banned from several Atlantic City casinos due to his success
- Subject of a 2014 documentary, "The Player: Secrets of a Vegas Whale"
3. James Grosjean
James Grosjean is considered one of the top blackjack players in the world and has been inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame. With a background in economics and a strong grasp of mathematics, Grosjean developed complex advantage-play techniques that allowed him to consistently beat casinos at blackjack. His book, "Beyond Counting," published in 2000, detailed these methods and remains a highly sought-after resource for aspiring blackjack players.
- Youngest player inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame
- Successful legal victories against several casinos and an investigation agency
- Author of the influential book "Beyond Counting"
4. Bill Benter
Bill Benter is arguably one of the most successful gamblers in history, amassing nearly $1 billion in winnings from horse racing betting. However, Benter's blackjack career is equally noteworthy. His mathematical talents allowed him to gain an edge over Las Vegas casinos by counting cards, ultimately leading to his induction into the Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2016.
- Developed one of the most accurate and successful analysis programs for betting on horse racing
- Earned nearly $1 billion from gambling
- Philanthropist who has contributed and raised millions for numerous campaigns and charities
5. Ken Uston
Ken Uston is often referred to as one of the first true blackjack superstars. In the early 1970s, Uston gained notoriety for his efficiency as a card counter, earning millions of dollars playing blackjack in casinos. His success and reputation led to significant changes in the game, including an increase in the number of decks used by casinos to discourage card counting.
- Popularized team play in blackjack
- Won a high-profile lawsuit that forced casinos to stop banning players for counting cards
- Author of several books on blackjack, video games, and PCs
6. Stanford Wong
John Ferguson, better known by his pseudonym Stanford Wong, is a Blackjack Hall of Fame player and author. Wong started playing blackjack at the age of 21 while teaching finance courses at a university. Realizing that academia wasn't for him, Wong quit his job and pursued a career as a professional blackjack player, becoming one of the most famous players in the game.
- Developed the "wonging" technique, an advantage-play method involving observing games and stepping in when the count is favorable
- Author of the influential book "Professional Blackjack"
- Creator of the "Blackjack Analyzer" program, one of the first of its kind
7. Lawrence Revere
Lawrence Revere, a former casino pit boss, spent the majority of his life in the gambling world. As a blackjack player, Revere developed and popularized several card-counting strategies, some of which are still in use today. His book, "Playing Blackjack as a Business," is considered a classic in the field, detailing many of these strategies.
- Developed multiple blackjack card-counting strategies
- Author of the renowned book "Playing Blackjack as a Business"
- Expert in avoiding detection by casinos
8. Thomas Hyland
Thomas Hyland was inspired by the blackjack legend Lawrence Revere to pursue a career in the game. After reading Revere's "Playing Blackjack as a Business," Hyland assembled a team of four players, each contributing 50,000, and Hyland's career as a professional blackjack player took off.
- Successfully led one of the longest-running blackjack teams in history
- Employed various advantage-play techniques, including shuffle tracking and ace sequencing
- Inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame as one of the original members
9. MIT Blackjack Team
The MIT Blackjack Team, consisting of students and alumni from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, gained fame for their card-counting exploits in the 1980s and 1990s. Led by Bill Kaplan, the team used advanced techniques and a strict management system to win millions of dollars from casinos.
- Became the subject of the bestselling book "Bringing Down the House" and its film adaptation, "21"
- Won millions of dollars from casinos using advanced card-counting techniques
- Inspired numerous other blackjack teams
10. Alice Walker
Alice Walker made history as the first female to win the World Series of Blackjack in 2007. A prodigious talent, Walker began playing the game at the age of three and quickly rose through the ranks to become a highly successful professional player.
- First female winner of the World Series of Blackjack
- Known for her quick thinking and strategic approach to the game
- Continues to compete at a high level in blackjack tournaments
While the players mentioned above represent the pinnacle of blackjack success, there are countless other talented individuals who have left their mark on the game. Some of these include Russ Hamilton, who invented Elimination Blackjack; Don Schlesinger, an American gaming mathematician known for creating the Illustrious 18; and Erica Shoenberg, one of the few female professional blackjack players who rose to prominence in the early 2000s.
These players, along with countless others, have helped shape the world of blackjack, leaving a lasting legacy for future generations of players to follow.