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The World's Best Blackjack Players

From Gina Hutchings, June 2016

Blackjack is the world's most notoriously known casino game, mostly due to its simplicity and ability to provide players with the impression that they control the outcome. Appearing in every American casino, Blackjack is certainly a game that separates the amateurs from the pros due to its comprehensive techniques that can really be the difference between a win and a loss. With this in mind, check out some of the best blackjack players the world has to offer.

Ken Uston

Considered the founder of card counting in blackjack, Ken Uston became widely known in the 1970s for his extraordinary blackjack skills that helped him win millions. He became so good, several casinos banned him from playing and even 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.

Edward Thorp

Commonly referred to as the godfather of counting, Edward Thorp wrote a book entitled 'Playing Blackjack to Win' (1962) - the first published manuscript which mathematically proved blackjack was beatable using card counting techniques. He later tested his theory by playing blackjack games himself and managed to win an impressive $11,000 (£7,500) in one weekend. His achievements have earned him a spot in the Blackjack Hall of Fame.

Tommy Hyland

Since 1979, Tommy Holland has been the manager of the longest-running blackjack team in history. Although it is unknown exactly how much Hyland and his team have profited during their gambling years, the original team (which consisted of four players), each put $4,000 (£2,700) into the team bankroll - a total that soon accumulated to approximately $50,000 (£34,000) within a few months, hinting towards a pretty impressive winning total.

However, in 1994, members of the Hyland blackjack team were arrested for using ace-sequencing - a shuffle tracking method that is usually considered cheating. Fortunately the court ruled the player's conduct wasn't cheating but merely an intelligent strategy. Hyland was elected by professional gamers as one of the seven original inductees in the Blackjack Hall of Fame.

John Ferguson (Stanford Wong)

Originally starting as a teacher, Stanford Wong agreed to Stanford University paying him a miniscule $1 for missing his faculty meetings - providing him the freedom to visit various casinos and pursue his gambling career. His expertise helped Wong invent the strategy of 'wonging', which is presently banned from most casinos. This technique involves the player only stepping into a game whilst the decks are favourable and immediately stepping away once the odds deteriorate. Wong's method is the reasoning behind the "No Mid-Shoe Entry" signs in modern casinos that prohibit a new player from joining the game before the first hand after a shuffle.

Keith Taft

Undoubtedly a genius, Keith Taft started development on a portable computer in the 1970s that could be used to beat blackjack in the casinos through counting cards. Regrettably no casino would enable a player to use such devices, despite there being no laws against them at the time. Therefore, Taft took his invention one step further by adapting it into a concealed device which could be hidden from casino staff. Surprisingly it worked, resulting in multiple wins for Taft before the use of technological devices in casinos was banned by law in 1985. Perhaps it'd be best to avoid any online casino slots with Taft…