If you want entrance into the exclusive blackjack hall of fame, winning big isn’t enough. You need to make a profound impact on how the game is played.

All blackjack players want to win big, and most of them want to be recognized for their success. The exclusive group of blackjack hall of famers represents the best and most influential figures in the game’s history.

The Blackjack Hall of Fame was officially created in 2002 at the Barona Casino in California. Out of 21 nominees, only 7 were inducted in the first year. It really takes something special to impress the selection committee.

In order to be inducted, one must be more than just a great player and big money winner. One must leave a lasting impact on the game of blackjack. If you want to get in yourself, here are a few things you can do. But be warned, it’s easier said than done.

Invent your own card counting system

Edward O. Thorp was an MIT mathematics professor who is said to be the first person to discover that a player could gain an advantage by tracking the cards coming out of the dealer’s hand.

He won $11,000 in Vegas in a single weekend before being kicked out for being too good at blackjack. The casino staff didn’t know exactly what he was doing, but they knew that he was winning too much money.

It is said that anti-counting measures like using 6-8 decks and re-shuffling continuously came as a direct response to Thorpe’s system. In 1963 he published a how-to on card counting systems called Beat the Dealer. While many players had a hard time grasping his work, it had a profound effect on a young amateur gambler named Al Francesco.

Develop the team play concept

Blackjack legend Al Francesco was one of the early pioneers in the card counting game during the 1960s. While he was developing new counting techniques, casinos were coming up with ways of stopping him and his counterparts.

That was what motivated him to use team play. The revolutionary concept allowed players to evade the watchful eye of pit bosses by splitting up tasks. “Spotters” would sit at different tables and count while continuing to flat bet.

Once the count becomes sufficiently high, the spotter signals to the “big player” who comes in and takes advantage of the count by placing huge wagers. Francesco developed the concept, mentoring team play legend Ken Uston.

After running for several years in Las Vegas the team was found out and banned from every casino in town. But Francesco’s legend lived on.

Successfully sue Atlantic City casinos

That brings us to Ken Uston, the man who brought Atlantic City to its knees in the early 1980s. He was a protege of Al Francesco in Las Vegas before their card counting team was uncovered and banned from each of the city’s casinos.

At that point Uston decided to pack up and leave for greener pastures: Atlantic City. He ran a card counting team of his own before unsurprisingly being caught and banned from the city in 1980. While that was predictable, what came later wasn’t. He sued Atlantic City’s casinos, arguing that they had no right to ban someone for “being too good at blackjack.”

The US Supreme Court ruled in his favor in 1982. Casinos couldn’t legally ban players for counting. However, they came up with other ways to foil users of blackjack tricks, including adding decks and moving up shuffle points. And it seems they still find ways to kick out counters.

Uston is also one of the most colorful figures in blackjack history. He became known as a master of disguise, altering his appearance in numerous ways to get into casinos which he had been banned from.

Invent a gadget to use in the casino

Keith Taft has been called the “undisputed gizmo genius of blackjack.” The mad scientist developed a whole range of devices used to aid card counters and advantage players, including cameras, tiny computers and imperceptible communications devices.

In 1977 Taft and his son won $40,000 in a single week using a computer they developed which aided the player in using the Hi-Lo counting system. With this money they planned to produce and sell the computer devices for $10,000 a pop.

Unluckily for them, the casinos caught on and they were visited by FBI agents. While they were never charged with any crimes, the casinos effectively made it impossible to use counting machines. Taft was inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2004.


The guys mentioned above didn’t just win at blackjack. One of them, Keith Taft, didn’t even play the game all that much. What all of them did was pioneer new ways of playing which changed the behavior of players, casinos and lawmakers.

The world of casino blackjack has changed immensely over the past 50 years. It has become a cat-and-mouse game between casinos and advantage players. The culture of advantage play has come largely from the contributions of these men. If you want to join their exclusive ranks, you’ll need to come up with an original contribution of your own.