The Blackjack Hall of Fame

Blackjack Hall of Fame

The Barona Casino in San Diego, California, is the home of the Blackjack Hall of Fame. Inaugurated in 2002, the Blackjack Hall of Fame is a tribute to some of the world’s greatest greatest game theorists, professional blackjack players and blackjack writers.

Each member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame is entitled to complementary rooms, food and beverages at the Barona Hotel throughout their lifetimes – on one condition: that they never attempt to play blackjack at the casino’s blackjack tables.

Blackjack players are inducted into the Blackjack Hall of fame on the basis of the contributions they have made to the game. The first 7 inductees were chosen in an Internet poll, and thereafter, Hall of Fame members have been presented with the task of selecting new members.

Here are just some of the legendary blackjack players who have been recognised by the Blackjack Hall of Fame:

Edward O. Thorp

Edward O. ThorpA former MIT professor of mathematics, Edward O. Thorp was amongst the first inductees into the Blackjack Hall of Fame. Thorp is famous for having written Beat the Dealer, the groundbreaking analysis of card counting in poker that proved once and for all that card counting is a mathematically valid strategy for turning the tables on the house.

According to blackjack legend Thorp didn’t just preach the use of card counting in blackjack, he also practiced it. His methods were so successful that he was repeatedly expelled from casinos, and was eventually forced to use various disguises to test his methods. As his notoriety spread, so did interest in his book, and Beat the Dealer eventually sold 700,000 copies.

Stanford Wong

Stanford Wong aka John FergusonStanford Wong, one of the most famous names in blackjack, is a pseudonym. Wong’s real name is John Ferguson, a former finance lecturer at Stanford University. Wong is famous for creating one of the first pieces of software capable of analysing blackjack, known simply as the Blackjack Analyser.

However, where Wong really proved his pioneering spirit was in the development of the ‘Wonging’ technique. This simple technique involved keeping track of cards in a deck before joining the game, thereby avoiding needless losses, and then maximising winning opportunities while actively involved in the game. Wong’s technique was so effective that many casinos subsequently banned mid-shoe entry into blackjack games.

Ken Uston

Ken UstonKen Uston was one of the most successful card counters in the history of blackjack. The Yale graduate was a brilliant businessman and entrepreneur in his own right, but was driven to explore the theory of card counting by his fascination with blackjack.

Uston is famous for being one of the pioneers of team card counting. However, he was described as a ‘genius’ card counter in his own right, and is believed to have made millions from the game.  As a consequence of his success, Uston soon found himself barred from casinos and forced to use various forms of subterfuge to gain access to casinos in order to utilise his methods.

Uston’s most important contribution to the game of blackjack was perhaps his successful lawsuit against Atlantic City casinos for barring  him from their tables. Uston’s case resulted in the New Jersey State Supreme Court ruling that casinos have no right to bar skilled players from their premises.

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