In the second part of our blackjack legends series, we’ll peek behind the curtains of the most famous blackjack teams to meet the great brains of blackjack history.

Many experts claim, that from all the existing blackjack tactics, group work is the most promising strategy. Through The history of Blackjack there were many world-famous card counting groups occupying the tables of famous casinos. With refined collaboration, these legendary people were able to pile up unbelievable amounts of money. However, keep in mind that their fine-tuned strategy needed detailed planning and practice, so their wins were well-earned.
The team blackjack concept requires a group of people working collectively to count cards and avoid getting caught by casino employees. These strategic groups profited a lot on casinos all around the world. Card counting requires great bravery and intelligence, since the players work under the threat of casino detectives. They know, that getting caught goes hand in hand with abundant beatings and permanent banning. In the following lines we’ll introduce you to some courageous masterminds behind the most famous blackjack teams.

The inventors of the team blackjack concept

The names of Ken Uston and Al Francesco are usually mentioned together, since they played on one blackjack team. Even though both are known for their exceptional blackjack techniques, they became famous for their impressive group work, utilizing Francesco’s ideas. Uston’s name may be more familiar to the general public, since he wrote many important blackjack books and appeared on numerous TV shows. Still, professional blackjack circles regard Francesco as the more influential figure of the two, because the team blackjack concept was basically his brainchild. Also, the “Big Player” blackjack strategy was developed by him. This unique technique requires a team working around one player, who brings in the biggest share of money.

When Al Francesco and Ken Uston met, the latter became mesmerized with Francesco’s revolutionary smart strategies. Francesco took Uston under his patronage and taught him everything about the game. Based on Uston’s story, he became the big player of Francesco’s team. However, Francesco claims that Uston wasn’t a great source of income for the group. Drama aside, we can declare that Uston learned many things from his friend. Later, he published a book “The Big Player” which contributed to the popularization of the card counting system. Unfortunately, the book’s popularity raised the awareness of casino managers, too. They started to employ special observers to spot dodgy players. Consequently, Francesco’s team was banned from many Las Vegas casinos.

The legends behind MIT

The most famous 21 group of all time, was probably the MIT blackjack team. The team’s history inspired many books and documentaries, as their story was heavily publicized at the times. The group was founded on the expertize of two individuals, J.P. Massar and Bill Kaplan. Massar and Kaplan met in a Chinese restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Massar introduced himself to Kaplan after he heard him talking to a friend about blackjack card counting strategies, and the rest is history. Kaplan was already a renowned strategist before his encounter with the MIT student. He made fortunes by managing a card counting team in the seventies. But his team members left Las Vegas to try their luck in Europe based casino destinations. Therefore, his meeting with Massar came about the perfect time.

Kaplan joined Massar and his team on a casino tour to Atlantic City, but he was less than impressed by their play and casino table manners. As an accomplished and experienced player, he recognized the numerous mistakes made by the MIT team. He declared their formula to be messy and overcomplicated, as the members concentrated on irrelevant details. Based on his suggestions, Massar and the team took on an effective training schedule. Later, Kaplan and Massar formed a Massachusetts Limited Partnership called Strategic Investments. They trained new players in Foxwoods Casino, nearby Connecticut. Unfortunately, in 1993 the company was dissolved and the two parted. However, their names will be forever remembered by the blackjack community and casino bouncers.

Read also:

The Greatest Names in Blackjack (Part I)

The Greatest Names in Blackjack (Part III)