Meet the 5 best pro blackjack players ever

Playing professional blackjack, can you live from that?

You would say no.

After all, the casino always beats players in the long run.

With blackjack it is possible to reduce the house advantage of the casino. With the right blackjack strategy you reduce the house advantage to around 0.5%. Of every euro you bet, you lose on average only half a cent.

A small number of players go one step further: counting cards. It takes years of practice and a sharp set of brains. But once you get the hang of it, you can beat the casino in the long run, as the MIT Blackjack Team did in the eighties and nineties.

So you can pro blackjack player just like there are professional poker players. You have to be prepared to spend hours and days in a row in full casinos.

These five successful blackjack players found no objection.

Edward Oakley Thorp: "The Godfather" (1932)

"I became interested in reading and math when I was three. By that time I could count to a million and perform simple algebra. "

Ed Thorp blackjack playerEdward (Ed) Thorp is an American mathematician and author of the most groundbreaking book about blackjack ever: Beat the Dealer: A Winning Strategy for the Game of Twenty One.

That unrivaled blackjack bestseller dates from 1962 …

Thorp completes its card-counting strategy in the 1960s with the help of IBM computers – something special at the time.

He earns millions of dollars with his winning system. Money that he subsequently invests equally successfully on Wall Street.

According to Forbes magazine, Thorp made an average return of 20 percent per year during his career as an asset manager.

Ken Uston: "The Blackjack Man" (1935-1987)

"I had everything you could buy with money: an exciting life, limousines, parties, suites in Caesars Palace and women, many women."

Ken Uston blackjack playerThe flamboyant Ken Uston (real name Kenneth Senzo Usui) graduates from both Yale and Harvard with flying colors, but finds out after a few years that the business world is a bit boring.

With the help of Thorp's book, Uston teaches himself how to count cards; that seems a lot more exciting to him.

He initially plays with a group of blackjack professionals, similar to the later MIT team. During his first "outing" in the late 1970s, he and his colleagues won $ 44,100 in five days.

Later Uston prefers to play alone, so that all the winnings are for himself.

This entails a major disadvantage: casinos are more aware of it as a card counter. That is why Uston sometimes disguises himself, so that he is not refused entry.

Uston dies of a heart attack at the age of 52. According to some caused by his daring playing style. He regularly played an entire evening with $ 10,000 a hand – with multiple hands simultaneously …

Al Francesco: "The Big Player" (19 ??)

"I am always looking for an advantage at the casino. I may have played without such an advantage twice in my life. "

Al Francesco blackjack playerThe exact date of birth of the still alive blackjack legend Al Francesco is unknown, as is the name on his passport.

Is it Al Francesco, Frank Schipani or Frank Salerno?

There is a lot of fog around this pro blackjack player, but it does exist and lives. The American gambling magazine All In published an extensive interview with him in 2007.

Francesco starts in 1963, after reading Beat the Dealer from Ed Thorp, on his blackjack sea tour through casinos in the US, the Bahamas, Panama, France and Monaco.

He earns millions by simply counting cards, on his own and in a team.

He later develops a mini computer with a friend that fits into a shoe and can be operated with your toes. Thanks to the computer, he and a number of fellow players know how to earn tons.

In the interview, Francesco claims that Ken Uston has learned how to count him.

James Grosjean: "The Game Killer" (19 ??)

"There are people who compare the average card counter with a chimpanzee; compared to that, I am a fully developed person. "

James Grosjean blackjack playerThe date of birth of this blackjack legend is also unknown. The fewer casinos know about professional players, the better.

Grosjean counts cards to win at blackjack, but also makes use of mistakes made by dealers and dealer habits that may be to the player's advantage.

His remarkable bestseller appears in 2000 Beyond Counting: Exploiting Casino Games from Blackjack to Video Poker.

Because casinos believe that James Grosjean is doing a lot of things, there have been lingering lawsuits between the blackjack player and various casinos, including Imperial Palace and Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Grosjean won both cases.

Zeljko Ranogajec: "The Joker" (1961)

Zeljko Ranogajec blackjack playerFinally, Mr. Casino must mention Zeljko Ranogajec.

Ranogajec is not American, but was born in Australia.

His life reads like a nerve-rackingly exciting film. After high school he studies business administration, but after a few years the Australian gives up his studies to devote his life to professional gambling.

Ranogajec starts counting cards at blackjack. He knows how to turn millions of dollars into a starting capital of several hundred dollars.

But it's not just blackjack.

In 1994, he won a 7.5 million dollar jackpot at the keno game in an Australian casino. He bets much more than $ 7.5 million for this, but still makes a profit from the many smaller prizes he wins before the jackpot falls.

According to the Australian newspaper The Daily Mail For a long time, Ranogajec used at least a billion Australian dollars in bets.

In 2016, Ranogajec no longer seems to be particularly active in casinos. On the contrary, he now operates an online gambling site: Colossusbets.

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