Best Blackjack Players

In this analysis, we look at the best blackjack players of all time and how they have made a name for themselves in the Blackjack Hall of Fame. If you are a fan of blackjack and want to learn more about the most successful blackjack players, you are in the right place. Keep reading to find out which blackjack players have made a name for themselves while playing blackjack over its rich history.

An Introduction to the Best Blackjack Players of All Time

One of the most played table games in both physical and online casinos is blackjack. The goal of the game is to go as close to 21 as you can without going over, or to out-handicap the dealer. Many well-known blackjack players have made millions of dollars both domestically and abroad by creating techniques or employing their talent.

In this article, we examine the greatest blackjack players in history, including those who created winning techniques, amassed enormous fortunes, or even created unique tools to increase their odds of success. Blackjack has advanced significantly since many cunning minds may employ card counting to their advantage in the twenty-first century. And who did it the best? Find out which blackjack players made history and are considered to be the best of all time by reading on. Furthermore, why not play some of the best online blackjack games.

The Best Blackjack Players of All Time

Edward Thorp

Dr. Edward Thorp, one of the most well-known and revered blackjack players of all time, is considered the father of beating the house edge in blackjack. Beat the Dealer, demonstrated mathematically that card counting might overcome the house edge.

On August 14, 1932, Thorp was born in Chicago, Illinois, but he spent most of his boyhood in southern California. The 90-year-old, who earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles, has led an outstanding life. Before penning the blackjack book, he spent some time working at MIT in Massachusetts.

Thorp presented a basic blackjack strategy chart that specified whether to stand, hit, split, or double down in his book Beat the Dealer from the 1960s. The strategy chart is entirely mathematical in nature and is based on the player’s initial two cards as well as the dealer’s face-up card. Thorp created his blackjack game theory using the IBM 704 computer. When it calculated the potential outcomes of each hand, the computer resembled a calculator more than a true computer. His study was based on the Kelly criterion, a publication by Bell Labs researcher J. L. Kelly Jr.

Thorp created a strategy chart for the player versus the dealer using the IBM 704 computer. Especially near the end of a deck of cards that is not shuffled between rounds. Thorp demonstrated in the book how a player might defeat house advantage and tip the odds in their favor. In addition to being referred to as “The Father of Modern Card Counting,” Thorp had a prosperous career as a mathematician, hedge fund manager, blackjack researcher, and book. Thorp, a hedge fund manager with more than 30 years of experience, has a net worth of $800 million and has traded more than $100 billion in his career.

Ken Uston

Kenneth Senzo Usui, popularly known as Ken Uston, was a renowned American author, strategist, and professional blackjack player. He became famous for his pranks in casinos in the middle of the 1970s.

Ken Uston was born on January 12th, 1935, in New York City to Japanese businessman Senzo Usui and Austrian native Elsie Lubitz. After graduating from Yale University, he attended Harvard University and earned an MBA there. Uston discovered Thorps’ Beat the Dealer book while he was a young adult and started using these strategies at casinos. The moniker “a genius card-counter” was given to him.

Uston is renowned for his flashy appearance and expertise at blackjack. He began playing blackjack for larger cash payouts when he first met seasoned gambler Al Francesco. Uston had been added to the gambler’s group of card counters. The group would visit a casino and sit at a variety of tables. The player would notify the “big player” to join the table when one of the tables began showing exceptionally positive tallies. The large player would wager more money at the table. The team earned $44,100 during the initial five-day run, of which Uston received $2,100. Uston eventually received a promotion from “Big Player” by Francesco.


After several years. In 1977, Uston published a book titled The Big Player. It discussed the tactics employed by card-counting groups to raise their blackjack winning odds. Al Francesco and his group were not permitted to play in Las Vegas following the publication of the book.

Gambling became acceptable in Atlantic City, New Jersey, a year later. Uston relocated there and assembled a fresh group of card counters for blackjack. He soon lost the ability to gamble at the majority of Atlantic City’s casinos, though. Uston sued casinos, claiming that they lacked the authority to exclude knowledgeable players. As of now, New Jersey casinos cannot exclude knowledgeable players. But, they instituted new regulations to make card-counting more challenging, including the addition of decks, more frequent shuffles, and other steps to lessen the advantage of a good player.

Uston used guises throughout his playing career to enter casinos covertly. Another seasoned gambler, Arnold Snyder, adds that Uston was an expert at disguising himself, both physically and during gambling. The majority of players play aggressively, but he learnt how to spread his bets on a single-deck game from table minimum to table maximum. By looking at their “bet spread” pattern, casinos can spot card counters. But, Uston discovered a new strategy that has been dubbed “card counting camouflage” in play. Up until the time of his death in a hotel in Paris in 1987, he kept playing blackjack.

Stanford Wong

John Ferguson, a 1943-born man, goes by the alias Stanford Wong. Wong is a well-known blackjack instructor, author, and professional player. He also coined the term “wong” (v.), which refers to a strategy used to advantage players.

Wong started playing blackjack in 1964 while earning his Ph.D. in finance from Stanford University in California and teaching finance classes at San Francisco State University. In order to avoid having to attend any faculty meetings during his final term of employment at the school and to be able to focus on his gambling career, Wong agreed to a salary of $1.

In the 1980s, Wong created a blackjack method that became well-known. He would observe a game of blackjack from behind the table while making no bets. When the cards started to favor him, he would enter the game and begin placing bets. The player would step out whenever the card count was not in his favor. The term “wonging” now generally refers to the entire procedure.

Many casinos have learnt how to stop “wonging players” by placing a notice up reading “No Mid-Shoe Entrance”. This implies that any new players must wait until the shoe has been shuffled before they can sit down at the table and start playing.

Blackjack Hall of Famer

Wong has since been included in the Blackjack Hall of Fame. He is known for his blackjack antics and has since released several gambling books from Pi Yee Press, a publishing house that he owns. The books that Wong has written are:

  • Professional Blackjack (1975)
  • Professional Video Poker
  • Wong on Dice (2006)
  • Blackjack Secrets
  • Basic Blackjack (1992)
  • Tournament Blackjack
  • Tournament Craps
  • Complete Idiot’s Guide to Managing your T
  • Optimal Strategy for Pai Gow Poker
  • Vegas Downtown Blackjack
  • Sharp Sports Betting
  • Casino Tournament Strategy
  • Betting Cheap Claimers
  • Winning Without Counting
  • Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gambling Like a Pro

Don Johnson

Don Johnson is a former corporate executive and a seasoned gambler who is considered to be one of the top blackjack players in the present day. The six-month span between December 2010 and April 2011 during which Don Johnson earned $15 million from casinos in Atlantic City was his most remarkable achievement.

On May 10, 1960, Johnson was born in Salem, Oregon. He rose to fame in the early 2010s thanks to an incredible winning streak at several casinos in Atlantic City. Johnson won millions of dollars by combining card counting with other advantage-play strategies. He received payouts of $4 million from Caesar’s, $5 million from the Borgata, and $6 million from the Tropicana. Johnson had arranged for Tropicana to give him a 20% discount on all of his losses. Hence, he would only be responsible for paying $400,000 of the $500,000 loss. This gave the expert blackjack player the ability to change the odds in his favor and raise his chances of succeeding at the Atlantic City casinos.

Don Johnson attracted the attention of important media and news outlets after turning the odds in his favor. Johnson has however maintained a rather private existence and stayed out of the casino spotlight in recent years despite his extraordinarily high winning streak.

Best Blackjack Players

Keith Taft

Keith Taft was a pioneer of computerized card counting. The blackjack player was raised in the Bay Area and was born in San Francisco in 1930. He was an American engineer and avid player of blackjack who created a device for computer-assisted blackjack. In 2004, Taft was elected to the Blackjack Hall of Fame.

Taft is remembered in history as the one who pushed for a ban on electronic devices in casinos in order to tip the scales in his favor. Taft spent five years teaching music after earning a master’s degree in both physics and music before beginning to teach physics for three years. He was incredibly interested in technology and creating gadgets. He created his first blackjack apparatus as a result in 1972. George was the name of the over 15-pound device. He employed George, a handheld computer, to play blackjack more effectively. He was able to calculate the best course of action for each hand and keep track of the cards that had been dealt thanks to the device. But he did not immediately start winning. Taft lost money and stopped playing blackjack until 1975.

The San Jose News published a feature about George and Taft in 1975. Taft received the motivation he needed from the interview to return to the blackjack tables with upgraded versions of his electronic help. He created smaller, more complex devices that could slip into his boots, belts, underwear, even shirts and pants. He also had a covert mouthpiece he could use to speak with the teams he worked with.

Professional Career

Taft played blackjack professionally between 1972 and 1985 using electronic devices, card counting, hole card play, and other profitable techniques. Al Francesco and Ken Uston, two of the most prominent blackjack players ever, were among those with whom he collaborated.

The use of electronic gadgets while gambling was outlawed in Nevada in 1985. Casinos had a van parked outside of the building waiting to pick up any transmissions in the vicinity since they suspected foul play. They had discovered Ted Taft, Keith’s brother, tracking hole cards with a tiny camera hidden in his belt buckle. After Keith was taken into custody, the police quickly released him because they had no evidence against him. Yet, soon after, a law banning electronic devices was passed. Taft visited Atlantic City to utilize his gadgets but eventually stopped taking bets on the game of blackjack. Marty Taft, his son, carried on his father’s heritage by playing in casinos in Atlantic City with miniature gadgets, although he was unable to match his father’s achievements.

The MIT Blackjack Team

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) blackjack team was established in 1979 and enjoyed a successful run of blackjack wins totaling millions of dollars. The team gained notoriety for their card counting and cooperative blackjack playing techniques during the 1980s and 1990s, which increased their odds of succeeding against the house edge.

A former MIT professor by the name of Mr. M pulled together a group of six MIT students who practiced card counting in their spare time to establish the MIT blackjack squad. He created team techniques to beat casinos using their mathematical prowess whilst following basic blackjack rules.

The group was active throughout the 1980s, visiting numerous casinos in Las Vegas and winning millions of dollars by outsmarting the house. They employed tracking shuffle, card counting, and other techniques. The crew was effectively denied access to several Nevada casinos, which compelled them to continue gambling at other casinos around the globe.

Taking Down the House, a bestseller, recounted the MIT blackjack team’s story. The book was then turned into the 2008 film 21. The crew is well-known in the gambling industry for using card counting and collaboration to win millions of dollars. The MIT blackjack team was essentially disintegrated by the year 2000 since all of the current and past members had moved on to other endeavors.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are undoubtedly the first blackjack players to do so, even though the MIT blackjack team is arguably the most well-known. Four US Army engineers made a simple blackjack technique discovery in the 1950s. Many gambling authors now refer to the group as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel, and James McDermott were on the team. The four horsemen then developed a method that ultimately loses the least amount of money to the house by using algorithms depending on the player’s and dealer’s up cards. Edward Thorp put the method to the test and found that it was accurate “within a couple of hundredths of a percentage point.”

In 1957, the group went on to write a book with the working title Playing Blackjack to Win. It has divisions for Drawing or Standing, Doubling Down, and Splitting Pairs on a strategy chart. The first blackjack mathematicians to attempt to create winning techniques were the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They increased a player’s spending to lose the least amount of money to the casino, despite the fact that their techniques weren’t strong enough to come to a clear conclusion.

Best Blackjack Players
Image source: Flickr

The Bottom Line

The Blackjack Hall of Fame is home to numerous renowned figures from the game of blackjack. Several blackjack players and teams have left their imprint on the game’s recent history over the previous seventy or so years.

Blackjack has a long history filled with a variety of characters, from mathematicians and strategy gurus to amazing card counters and teamwork. Edward Thorp is arguably the most well-known name in the blackjack community. You can still use these strategy charts at the best online blackjack casinos.