Ken Uston - Professional Blackjack Player

Ken Uston, (Master of Blackjack) was born on January 12, 1935. He was a prodigy even as a child. An IQ of 169 ensured his genius status from a very young age. At just 16 years of age, Ken went to Yale University and also later completed his MBA program from Harvard. He initially made a foray into the corporate world, ending up as the senior vice president of San Francisco’s Pacific Stock Exchange.

Somewhere during the time Uston was drawn to blackjack, and finally went on to become a champion blackjack player. In 1973, he met Al Francesco, the man revered as the father of the team play concept. And his life changed drastically after that. He quit his job and became a part of Al’s team, entering as a spotter and finally moving on to be the big player in the team.

Ken Uston – The Master of Blackjack

Ken Uston moved to Atlantic City in 1976 when gambling became legally recognized as a sport there. He followed initially the works of Edward Thorp and also Lawrence Revere and became a master of the Advanced Point Count, a technique that Revere advocated and later also developed a number of card-counting techniques of his own. These included the Uston Advanced Point Count and also the SS Count

Ken Uston organized a team of blackjack players who went on to play the game in different parts of the world, apart from Atlantic City and Las Vegas, raking in millions of dollars in profits. Ken’s team was responsible for introducing blackjack players to approaches and strategies never heard till then, approaches and techniques that ensured players were able to earn maximum profits while playing blackjack.

In the year 1979, Ken and his team were barred from playing at the Resorts International casino in Atlantic City, after they had won $145,000 in just nine and a half days of playing blackjack. This was a first in New Jersey gambling history, and soon a number of casinos banned them. Uston responded by filing lawsuits against the casinos, asking for damages to the tune of $85 million. Surprisingly, the judge ruled in his favor and even today, casinos are not allowed to bar card counters.

Ken Uston – the Multifaceted Genius

In 1977, Uston wrote The Big Player, a book that caused an uproar in gambling circles with its revelations about Al Francesco’s big player team secrets. He co-authored the book with Roger Rapaport, and it was the beginning of a soured relationship with Francesco. There were a number of other people from the gambling fraternity who went

However, on the flip side, the book altered the approach of players to blackjack. In fact, three of the most successful blackjack teams – the Tommy Hyland team, the MIT blackjack team, and also the Czech team – came into existence just after Uston’s book hit the stands. That was not the only book Uston wrote. He wrote two books on blackjack, published in 1979; Million Dollar Blackjack, published in 1981, and Ken Uston on Blackjack, published in 1986.

Ken Uston’s grandiose lifestyle and colorful personality made him a media favorite. Articles about him appeared in countless newspapers and magazines, including Playboy, People Magazine, Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Saturday Evening Post, Money Magazine, and also Newsweek. He featured on the cover page of New York Times Magazine, and on the front pages of the International Herald Tribune and also the Wall Street Journal. Uston was also a game addict and computer lover, and wrote nine books on computers. His game-related book, Mastering PAC-Man, became a national bestseller.

Towards the end of his life, he was working as a computer consultant to the Kuwaiti government. He was also writing a book, titled An American in Kuwait. He was found dead in his apartment in Paris on 19 September, 1987. While authorities attributed the cause of death to a heart attack, there were rumors that he died of a heroin overdose.

For more information about Ken Uston you can visit the official Ken Uston website, which was created by his daughter and family as a tribute to "The Master of Blackjack"

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