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Ken Uston


Ken Uston is a well-known name in the world of blackjack. Born on January 12, 1935, Ken Uston was eldest among his siblings. At the age of 16, Ken took admission in Yale University and after completing his graduation from there, he went to Harvard University for MBA degree. After finishing with his studies, he worked at Southern New Telephone Co. as a district manager.

Ken UtsonVery few people are aware of the fact that besides being one of the top professional players at blackjack, Uston was also a good piano player and he was also asked to play in several jazz clubs of San Francisco. He told in one his interview that his infatuation for blackjack began when he met Al Francesco at a game of poker. At that time, Francesco launched a team of blackjack players and he recruited Ken Uston for his team. The team did well but Uston could make only a little money. Later he wrote a book along with Roger Rapoport titled “The Big Player” in which he confessed that Al Francesco’s team didn’t used to play in Las Vegas because they were completely barred from playing in casinos of Las Vegas. In his book, he also solved the mystery of the game and told people how to win at blackjack.

Later in 1978, Uston moved to Atlantic City in New Jersey and formed a team of his own. Just like other casinos, the casinos of Atlantic City also barred Uston from playing. The same happened a year later when in 1979 he was barred by Resorts International from playing in their casinos. It was then Ken Uston filed a legal petition with the court where he claimed that it is beyond the authority of casinos to bar skilled players from playing. The New Jersey Supreme Court gave its verdict in favour of Ken Uston thereby stating that the casinos have no right to bar skilled players. But the thing didn’t end here. The casinos of Atlantic City began adding decks and started moving shuffle points so that the potential players couldn’t avail any sort of advantages.

It was now when Ken Uston was on his own as the entire team came down like a pack of cards. Then he began adopting disguises and went to casinos to play blackjack. He was known for his aggressive approach on the game. The last few years of his life were mainly focused on video games and it was in 1981 when he wrote a book on a famous video game Pac-Man that was included in the New York Times Best Sellers List. On September 19, 1987 Ken Uston was found dead in his apartment in Paris and the cause of his death was told to be heart failure.  Though he died at an early age of 52 but his professional career in blackjack has immortalized him.












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