Al Francesco Professional Blackjack Player

Blackjack School

To get an idea of exactly how meaningful Al Francesco's contribution to the world of blackjack is, one needs look no further than blackjack legend Ken Uston's kind words about him. Uston describes him as "(probably) the greatest blackjack player there ever was" and gave Francesco credit for his blackjack success. Francesco is known to many as "The Godfather of Blackjack".

Born and raised in Gary, Indiana, USA, Francesco's remarkable and unique skills became apparent in his youth. He managed to support himself financially by consistently winning at a range of games. In 1963, after Francesco had relocated to California, he read Thorp's masterpiece 'Beat the Dealer'. He had trouble understanding Thorp's 'Ten Count System' at first, but he eventually got a grasp of it. He eventually became so good at applying this strategy that he was barred by a range of casinos and this resulted in Francesco putting aside blackjack for a few years.

Eight years down the line, Francesco decided to learn Revere's 'Advanced Point Count System' and gave the game of blackjack a fresh start. Once again, the casinos kicked him out and he consequently left the game for another couple of years.

Luckily for Francesco, he found a very clever way of getting around this problem. How? He was the first person to come up with the idea of playing blackjack in teams, something which helped to make him millions of dollars without being detected by casinos.

This discovery came during a night out with his brother. He was waiting for a dinner reservation and socialising whilst his brother was counting cards. He understood that the count must have been promising when his brother bet high. He suddenly realised that he could bet a large sum of money and have a good chance of winning the bet. He won a fair amount of money the coming half hour, by placing bets at the right times.

For the first time in his life, the pit boss ran after him to try to get him to stay rather than to kick him out. He was offered all kinds of comps. He immediately realised that he could make a fortune without being barred, and instead being treated like royalty. The casinos thought he was a rich tourist carelessly spending his fortunes, so he truly got the best of both worlds.

With this, the 'Big Player Strategy' was invented. Francesco started with teams of seven with six counters and one 'Big Player'. Placed at different tables, the players would signal each other and bet high when odds were favourable and bet low when odds were unfavourable.

Unfortunately for Francesco, the secrets that allowed him to make a fortune without having to fear discovery by casinos were released to the world in 1977. Uston (one of the players whom Francesco had trained) elaborated upon these techniques in his successful book 'The Big Player'. This was considered somewhat of a betrayal by many of the blackjack players who were in on the secret strategy. However, this highly acclaimed work led to the creation of a huge number of legendary teams. Perhaps the most noteworthy of these teams is the MIT team.

Francesco has now retired from blackjack, but his genius contributions to the game have earned him a solid and permanent place in the Blackjack Hall of Fame. He will certainly never be forgotten.

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