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Dr. Edward Thorp: Mathematician

Both the movie "21," starring Kevin Spacey, and the book "Bringing Down the House," written by Ben Mezrich, were inspired by Thorp. Born in 1932, Edward Thorp was known to be mathematically talented from an early age. He got his PhD and taught math at MIT 'til 1962.

Blackjack, apparently, was much more interesting than teaching number and the various theories associated with them. It was almost a number theory by itself. With FORTRAN, an early computer programming language, Thorp was able to apply the systematic use of probability and other branches of mathematics to Blackjack. Although many do it now, using computer programming for gambling was innovative in Thorp's day. He ended up writing a whole book showing how Blackjack is subject to the rules of mathematics.

Thorp didn't stay at his computer, though. He went to Vegas to play some real Blackjack. His card counting was what got him the wins, although he could've gotten in some big trouble if the right people found out. His book, "Beat the Dealer," was published in 1962, and he trained a whole MIT Blackjack team, students to use his stratagems.

Dr. Edward Oakley Thorp was also successful in his work with the stock market, but most people know him better by his association with Blackjack.

Businessman Ken Uston

Like Thorp, Uston (Kenneth Senso Usui) was attracted to Blackjack by the mathematical aspect of it. Accepted by Yale University at 16, he got his Master's from Harvard. After getting out of school, he worked in the family business alongside his father, just doing Blackjack on the weekends.

However, it didn't stay that way. He met Al Francesco, a man who had his own team of card counters, through his girlfriend. Uston ended up making his own team, and it was so successful that he was able to quit his job. Of course, his reputation followed him, and casinos started forbidding him from even coming in. Uston found a way, though, through disguises, and he wrote several popular books about Blackjack.

Unfortunately, Uston could think of nothing better to do with his millions than splurge on drugs and alcohol, and he consequently died of a heart attack.

Blackjack Enthusiast Stanford Wong

John Ferguson is his true name. He started out his professional life as a teacher, but he's now an master of blackjack, and he writes and runs the Pi Yee Press publishing company. All this started when he decided teaching wasn't his thing. Stanford University paid him a salary of just $1 in his latter days so he could be absent from meetings of the faculty and go gamble instead. He would win by "wong-ing," which means he would play when the hand seemed favorable but abstain when it didn't. This is now a banned strategy at most casinos. Stanford Wong's Blackjack newsletters are still published on the web.

In Summary

These men are in the Blackjack Hall of Fame because they not only played the game- they owned it. It was their lives, and Blackjack players now and then are amazed by what they have contributed to the sport.