Stanford Wong: the Man, the Player, the Writer, the Legend

Stanford Wong is one of the most recognized faces and names in the world of blackjack. He is a writer and a professional blackjack player, with years of experience and countless books to his name.

Stanford Wong is actually a pen name, and his real name is John Ferguson. Born in 1943, John first used the name Stanford Wong when penning his Professional Blackjack book in 1975. This book was written at a time when he was already making a living playing blackjack in casinos around the world, and this was the book that not only introduced the world to Stanford Wong, but also to the world of professional blackjack. This was the book that inspired many to go into blackjack professional, and the book that many people refer to even in this day and age, as although its content is dated, it is still incredibly useful.

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Stanford Wong first picked up the blackjack bug in 1964. He was teaching at the time but was not content with his lot in life and was eager to find some extra excitement, so he turned to gambling and to the local casinos. As well as a keen strategist, Stanford Wong is also an expert on card counting, and he has undoubtedly used this to his advantage over the years. Stanford coined the card counting technique known as back-counting, which has also been referred to as “Wonging” in his honor. This is where the player finds a position behind the dealer so that they can’t be seen as they spy the cards coming out of the deck, running the count without playing before jumping in with a significant bet when the count is good. This technique works less well now than when it was first introduced, as casinos look out for it, but it is still an effective way to count cards and to keep losses to a minimum whilst running a count.

Stanford Wong was inducted into the Blackjack Hall of fame, a great honor considering that only two people are inducted every year, and he was known to operate several card counting teams that hit gaming tables (not just blackjack) in Las Vegas. It is reported that he gave them advice, instructions, buy-ins and expenses, and from that he would take a share of their winnings.

Over the years Stanford Wong became a celebrity, and was the face of blackjack. His other works included Downtown Blackjack, Tournament Blackjack and Blackjack Secrets. These days he owns and runs his own publishing company, and not only does he use this company to publish his own books, but also those by other blackjack players and professional gamblers.

Although best known for his books and general expertise in blackjack, Stanford Wong also enjoys many other casino games. In fact, there are few casino games that he hasn’t played, enjoyed and subsequently mastered, and Stanford Wong is one of the most versatile casino gamblers in the modern age, one of the few people who can successfully turn several games that have a significant house edge, into profitable ventures. Stanford Wong writes about how to do just that in books such as Professional Video Poker, which looks at the world of Video Poker, which many see as a glorified slot machine,but which Stanford Wong sees as a profitable game; Tournament Craps, which looks at the heavily luck-based dice game, Craps; and Pai Gow poker, an age old Chinese gambling game that is widely available in Las Vegas and in major casinos around the world. Stanford Wong also wrote a book on gambling in general, which he titled The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gambling Like a Pro, which looks at all aspects of gambling and how to turn a profit
from it.

Of course, anyone who claims they can turn a regular profit from these games and can “beat” them and the casino is going to have their detractors, and Stanford Wong has plenty of them. Although it is widely believed that people can turn blackjack into a profit, whether through card counting or simple solid strategy, there are those who suggest that it is impossible to do such a thing with games such as Craps. Stanford Wong claims he can beat this game through “controlled throwing methods”, effectively manipulating the dice in hand in order to effect the outcome of the throw, but not everyone believes that this is possible.

Stanford Wong is still active in the blackjack community and has embraced the modernity of the game, with its advance into the online world. Stanford Wong still concentrates on land-based blackjack as opposed to online blackjack, but he operates the BJ21 website, one of the leading online forums based on the game of blackjack. BJ21 has been active since 1997 and although there is a paid-area where subscribers can pay a small fee for what may prove to be invaluable information, there is also a wealth of free information that everyone can access. Stanford also used computers when making the Blackjack Analyzer program, which analyses the odds of the game. This was initially created for his own personal use but is now available as a commercial piece of software, which means that everyone can download and use it.

Stanford Wong has devoted much of his life to blackjack and to casino gambling in general, having been involved in every facet of the game for many decades. He has met and played alongside the greats, and history might well remember him as the greatest player ever to grace the game. Stanford Wong currently lives in California, he continues to write and publish through his company Pi Yee Press, which is based in the City of Sin, the home of all great gamblers.