The Greatest Names in Blackjack (Part I)
May 20, 2015
Blackjack is serious business with many devoted players and followers. In our series we will cover some of the most iconic and influential blackjack players and strategist, who shaped this game over the years.
Blackjack strategy books, movies, news reports and various other mediums have all mentioned the game of 21, which only reaffirms just how popular this card game is. Similarly to sports, through the history of blackjack there were many significant players, who contributed to its prominent status. A great number of them were immortalized by entering the Blackjack Hall of Fame, where the visitors can learn about the most significant blackjack authors, experts and professionals.
A lot of people dream of being acclaimed blackjack personalities. However, there is no ultimate formula by which they could join the top. Some players became notorious because of their wagers, while others for inventing beneficial strategies and blackjack tips or writing books on the topic. One thing is for sure, over the years many clever people became fascinated with this versatile game.
The man behind “wonging”
It is hard to name another blackjack player like Stanford Wong. His book “Professional Blackjack” influenced generations of players since its publication in 1975. Wong fell for this game in 1964 while working on his PhD at Stanford University in California and teaching finance at San Francisco State University.
Dissatisfied with the teaching life, he decided to sail into gambling. And it was definitely a fortunate move. As he started to make notes on his blackjack betting system and experiences, he stepped on a path leading to a legendary status. Born as “John Ferguson” he changed his name two times. His first choice was “Nevada Smith”, but after recognizing that the name was taken, he invented “Stanford Wong” from the name of his alma mater and an Asian name for a touch of mystery.
Wong started to publish newsletters in 1979, but they evolved into important professional blackjack journals. Nowadays, he publishes “Current Blackjack News” on his personal website, which operates since 1997. Through the years “wonging” became a common phrase amongst blackjack players, standing for a specific technique for the player’s advantage, popularized by Wong in the 1980’s. Following this strategy, the player starts blackjack card counting without wagering and joins the game only when it’s favorable. What’s more, Wong invented a computer program, “Blackjack Analyzer”, helping many beginners to gain insight into professional smart strategies. Without his involvement, blackjack wouldn’t be the same.
The most desirable gambler of all time
The late Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer was identified as the most opulent citizen of Australia. The cold-blooded player made his fortune by building a media empire and he wasn’t tight-fisted when it came to spending his earnings. Packer was famous for his high-stakes on blackjack, baccarat and poker. His wagers were so high that they could defined casino budgets. As a consequence, at most places he was allowed to bet as much as he wanted, because he could make or break the destination. According to casino gambling news, he lost USD 20 million while staying in Las Vegas’ Bellagio Casino. On different occasions, with his winning streak he managed to shut down a London based club. Most of his big wins, waging from USD 24 million to USD 33 million, were from blackjack and baccarat. After these cases, casinos fired several employees for letting Packer make his enormous bets.
Packer said that he only gambled what he could afford to lose and he always stopped while he was winning. He played decent basic blackjack strategy and improved over the time. Casino managers worked hard to lure Parker to their casinos as he was notorious for his generous tips. There was an instance when he decided to pay for a waitress’ mortgage. On another occasion he placed bets on each spot at a blackjack table, and he ensured the dealer that he can keep all winnings. When it came to losing, Packer handled the situations with grace. Also, he was famous for paying on time, without hesitation or negotiation. These characteristics made him into the most desirable gambler for casinos all around the world.
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