One of the most fascinating methods to approach any topic, including blackjack, is to examine the historical figures associated with that topic. In the game of blackjack, many of the more intriguing players have attempted to conceal their identities. Drawing too much attention to themselves is counterproductive, because it makes it simpler for casinos to foil them.
But some blackjack players have gone public to various degrees. Some authors use pseudonym names when writing novels. Others have essentially retired from competitive competition. They likely read that the wealthiest individuals during the California Gold Rush were those who sold tools and spades to the prospectors.
Following are concise biographies of some of blackjack’s more intriguing characters. In many cases, we link to each individual’s detailed biography.
Since 2002, Al Francesco has been a member of The Blackjack Hall of Fame. His career has served as a model for card counters and advantage players for years. He is renowned for establishing one of the first profitable card counting teams.
Moreover, he developed a number of the techniques still employed by advantage play teams. “The Big Player,” which you may be familiar with if you’ve seen the movie 21, was Al Francesco’s conception. He also instructed and mentored other blackjack greats, such as Ken Uston.
Francesco no longer plays blackjack, but his website provides more information about the game and his thoughts on it.
Secondly, Peter Griffin
Peter Griffin, like Al Francesco, is one of the earliest inductees into the Blackjack Hall of Fame. It is difficult to understate his contributions to the game’s mathematics. Griffin, however, was less interested in earning money from casinos than some of the other names on this list. He was more enthusiastic about instructing.
Griffin began researching blackjack patterns and mathematics after losing significant money in Nevada casinos in the early 1970s. He then conducted extensive research on “the average blackjack player” by compiling statistics.
When you read that the average blackjack player gives the casino a 2% advantage, you are referencing Griffin’s research. (Skilled blackjack players with optimal strategy confront a house edge between 0.5% and 1%.)
He also wrote The Theory of Blackjack: The Comprehensive Card Counter’s Guide to the Casino Game of 21.
Arnold S. Snyder
Arnold Snyder, like the first two names on this list, is an early member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame. In addition to being a professional gambler and respected author of multiple blackjack publications, he is also a professional gambler. When you read articles about card counting that emphasize the significance of penetration to professional card counters, you are reading about a concept popularized by Snyder. He’s also one of the first wagering writers to advocate for simplified card counting systems, pointing out that most players can be just as profitable using an easy system as they can using a challenging system.
His true claim to fame is Blackjack Forum, a website that was formerly a quarterly print publication. Some of the most prominent professional gamblers and gambling writers, including Al Francesco and Keith Taft, have been published in Blackjack Forum.
Our favorite book by Arnold Snyder is Blackbelt in Blackjack, which is the best comprehensive guide to card counting you will ever read. Among others, he is the author of The Blackjack Shuffle Tracker’s Cookbook, The Poker Tournament Formula, and The Big Book of Blackjack.