Review of Ken Uston on Blackjack

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Ken Uston is, without a doubt, one of the most successful and colorful Blackjack players of all time. His knowledge of the game, creativity in the cause of beating the casinos, and his clarity in writing about it are legendary, and for good reason. This book covers the period in his career from early 1984 until the middle of 1986. (Million Dollar Blackjack covers from 1974 until the end of 1979, One-Third of a Shoe covers the period at the beginning of 1979 when Atlantic City Casinos weren’t allowed to bar card counters, Ken Uston’s Newsletters on Blackjack cover from the beginning of 1979 through the end of 1981.)

This is the real-life adventure of a high stakes card counter at the tables of Las Vegas and in the courtrooms of Nevada. With his card counting team he does battle with the casinos trying to win money at the tables while he and his legal team do battle with the casinos in the court rooms for the right to play. The book jumps back and forth between these two battles chronologically giving us a sense of Uston’s life during this period. We get to experience his victories and defeats in both arenas along with him.

The reader won’t learn much about improving their Blackjack skills, although some of the discussions of team play and the card counter’s “act” are useful. The book is mainly a diary of the events of the time, which were key in the history of card counting.

Blackjack players’ opinions are split about whether Uston’s court efforts helped or hurt card counting, but there’s no dispute that he joined the Slot Gacor battle with a zest and his recounting of it is both informative and enjoyable. His clear writing style again gives us an unclouded look at the his life and experiences at the time. Uston is one of the best writers the game of Blackjack has ever had. This book is another fine example of his work.

Capsule:
This book may not make you a much better Blackjack player, but it is highly informative and entertaining. Uston chronicles exciting stories of his team’s efforts at the Blackjack tables and describes the key events in his attempts to prevent casinos from barring card counters. If you enjoyed The Big Player or One-Third of a Shoe you’ll really enjoy this. Strongly recommended if you enjoy reading about card counting exploits.