Blackjack is a universal game, and for many it is a game of chance, of luck with a smidgen of skill, but for others it is a profession, something with which they can turn a regular profit. These are the players who know everything there is to know about the game, the players that not only follow the card counting systems or the expert strategies, but the ones that invented them. Many of these have been inducted in the Blackjack Hall of Fame, given their rightful place in history, and all of them have had a huge impact of the game of blackjack.
Peter Griffin was one of the seven original inductees into the Blackjack Hall of Fame, an honour that represents how highly thought of he is in the blackjack world. Although the rest of the world might recognise the name Peter Griffin as the hapless patriarch on Family Guy, those who play blackjack will recognise it as belonging to one of the best players and strategists that the game has ever produced. Peter is a mathematician and brings those skills to the table. He was first introduced to the game in 1970, and after losing a significant amount of money he decided to hone his skills and find a way to turn a profit regularly, which is what he did.
Peter Griffin wrote many books on the game and as a passionate teacher he dedicates his time to teaching others all about blackjack, including how to count cards and how to turn it into a profitable business.
Although no longer with us, Ken Uston’s impact on the game of blackjack was huge and he leaves behind a legacy in the form of his books on strategy, his work in card counting and a law suit that he filed against a casino in Atlantic City after they banned him for card counting. The argument he put forward was that card counting is not illegal and as it is an essential strategy of the game, the casinos shouldn’t be allowed to restrict its use or to ban players for doing it. The courts agreed with him and that’s why even today you won’t get banned in Atlantic City for counting cards (although they do increase the house edge to account for this).
Ken Uston was also a big video game fan, and in a time when Pacman was the height of video game technology, this was rather unique. He wrote books on video games and was considered an expert on many classic arcade games.
Stanford Wong is the pen name of John Ferguson, a blackjack player and writer that has been one of the most famous names in the game since his Professional Blackjack book, which he wrote in 1975, after a decade spent as a blackjack player and casino gambler. Stanford runs his own comprehensive website, his own publishing company and to this day he continues to write books on the subject and to play the game itself, even appearing in televised blackjack events. To read more about Stanford Wong, checkout our article on him here.
James has played in many of the recent televised blackjack tournaments, including the World Series of Blackjack and the Ultimate Blackjack Tour. He has also written on the subject and his best known work was the 2000 title Beyond Counting: Exploiting Casino Games from Blackjack to Video Poker. James Grosjean is currently the youngest person to be inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame.
When it comes to blackjack publications you will struggle to find as may people as prolific as Arnold Snyder. Snyder has published many books on the basics and the complexities of blackjack, along with books that deal with strategy and card counting. He was one of the first people to be inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame and has spent many decades playing, learning and perfecting the game.
Arnold also runs the Blackjack Forum, one of the most popular publications on blackjack. This used to be a magazine, but it became an online publication in 2004. Snyder’s books include Blackbelt in bBackjack, Big Book of Blackjack, How to Beat the Internet Casinos and Poker Rooms and The Blackjack Formula.
Hyland is the manager of one of the longest running card counting teams, a team that began in 1979. Hyland tends to target casinos in Atlantic City, where players can’t be banned for card counting, but he has been known to take his individual play, and his team play, to casinos across North America.
Thomas Hyland was one of the original 7 members inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame.
Darryl began his professional career as a singer songwriter, with albums such as Right Side of Zero, Same River Twice and A Crooked Line, but he is also a professional blackjack player and is often considered to be one of the best players ever. It is not unusual for celebrities and musicians to play blackjack, and everyone from rappers such as Jay-Z, P Diddy and 50 Cent, to country music stars and royalty have been known to play the game, but none play it to the level that Darryl plays it, which is why he was inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame.
Zeljko is the only man on this list who doesn’t hail from North America. Zeljko was born and raised in Australia, the son of Eastern European immigrants. Zeljko was inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2011 after attracting a huge amount of recognition for his work on the tables. There are reports that he is banned from most of the casinos in his home country and that he once turned a bankroll of just a few hundred dollars into several million dollars, but much of what we know about Zeljko has been passed down in the forms of legends as he is a very reclusive individual.
One of the most interesting stories of the many that circulate about Zeljko, is that he once won $7.5 million on a game of Keno, although he bet considerably more than that over the course of his play and only came out on top thanks to the smaller amounts he won along the way.
Zeljko gambles astronomical amounts of money, so much so that his betting activity reportedly accounts for a third of all bets that Betfair take in Australia, whereas his local betting company, who take in nearly $10 billion a year, report that nearly a tenth of their turnover comes from Zeljko’s bets.
Munchkin is primarily a writer and a director for television, with many credits to his name including Evil Obsession, LA Heat and Ring of Fire, but he is also a keen gambler and his exploits on the blackjack table have seen him given an entry into the Blackjack Hall of fame.
Max is best known for Comp City: A Guide to Free Gambling Vacations, a book that details the best casino perks around the United States, and tells players how they can take advantage of them to effectively gamble for free. Max Rubin is also familiar face on the scene, thanks to his work as a host and analyst on many televised blackjack events, including the World Series of Blackjack and the Ultimate Blackjack Tour.
Max Rubin spends much of his time travelling the country giving talks on blackjack, and he also works at the Baron Casino in San Diego, teaching the staff how to spot cheats and card counters at the tables.
Edward O. Thorp
Edward O. Thorp is a mathematician, author and professional blackjack player, most well known for his books on blackjack, including Beat The Dealer, and his invention of the first wearable computer, which was initially used to cheat at roulette. Edward O. Thorp’s methods in his hugely popular Beat the Dealer book led many casinos to shuffle the decks when they get to the end of the shoe, thus making his techniques redundant, but when the book was first published Edward and many of his readers used these techniques to win huge amounts of money.
Edward O. Thorp also uses his skills to analyse the stock market and he has also written about the game of backgammon, but even now it is blackjack that seems to hold his attention more than anything else.
Taft used the writings of Edward O. Thorp to create a computer that could analyse the game of blackjack, long before the first personal computer was invented. The computer was worn on his person and he could control it with device hidden in his shoe, using it to count cards and gain a huge advantage over the casinos. It worked well initially but then he began to lose a lot of money and decided to stop using it in it’s early form.
In later years Taft worked with other blackjack professionals and card counters, including Ken Uston, and he continued to develop and improve his computer.