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The Blackjack Hall of Fame

By: rkingsley, Friday August 6th 2010
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Most sports have some sort of a hall of fame in which they honor their best representatives. There is no reason why this concept should be restricted to action sports. Blackjack is a popular casino game and has its own history and its own heroes and it is natural that it has its own Hall of Fame.

The Blackjack Hall of Fame is of fairly recent origin. The idea was mooted in the winter of 2002. 21 prominent blackjack personalities were nominated for the first induction to the Blackjack Hall of Fame. These included experts, authors, and professional players. The public was allowed to vote for their favorites for about a month on the Internet. Then in January 2003 the blackjack author Max Rubin hosted the Blackjack Ball. In this event only a few selected professional blackjack players and experts were invited. They selected the first seven inductees to the Blackjack Hall of Fame from those nominated.

This induction is by far the most interesting. It includes Al Francesco the pioneer of the concept of blackjack teams, Peter Griffin a mathematician who expounded the theory of blackjack strategy in his book The Theory of Blackjack, Arnold Snyder a former professional player who was then author and editor of Blackjack Forum, Edward O. Thorp the author of one of the first best selling blackjack classics Beat the Dealer, Stanford Wong the creator of the blackjack strategy that is known as "Wonging" and Tommy Hyland the manager of one of the longest-running blackjack teams. The seventh name in that list was the most popular. It was of Ken Uston the professional player and author. He is best known for taking on the Atlantic City casinos in a legal battle for the rights of card counters.

In 2004 and 2005 two members were inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame each year through a similar process. Max Rubin was inducted in 2004 for his media reporting of blackjack events. Keith Taft, who had invented hidden computerized devices to enable optimum play at the tables, was the second inductee in 2004. 2005 saw the induction of Julian Braun who pioneered the use of computers to analyze blackjack statistics and Lawrence Revere the author of Playing Blackjack as a Business and a professional teacher.

The procedure for nomination changed after that. The members of the Blackjack Hall of Fame themselves selected the new inductees. In 2006 James Grosjean was inducted to the Blackjack Hall of Fame. Grosjean was a computer analyst, professional player and author of the classic Beyond Counting. He is also well known for successfully suing casinos and the Griffin Agency. In 2007 John Chang was inducted to the Blackjack Hall of Fame. Chang is the well known MIT team manager. In the popular movie 21, the character of Mickey Rosa was based on him. The last induction to the Blackjack Hall of fame took place in 2008. Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel and James McDermott were inducted collectively as "The Four Horsemen of Aberdeen". While serving in the U.S Army in the 1950s, they formulated the first accurate basic blackjack strategy using only desk calculators. This was published in the Journal of the American Statistical Association.

The members of the Blackjack Hall of fame are awarded a permanent lifetime compensation for full room, food and beverage by the Barona Casino in San Diego in exchange for the member consenting never to play in the casino.

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