Ken Uston Professional Blackjack Player

Blackjack School

Ken Uston faced a huge amount of adversity on his way to the top, and certainly took a beating or two (both physically and emotionally) to get there. Although his story is somewhat sad, he nonetheless managed to carve a permanent name for himself in the history of blackjack and will forever be remembered as a legend because of it.

The son of a Japanese businessman, Ken Uston was born Kenneth Senzo Usui in 1935. His ethnic roots (half Japanese and half Austrian) caused him to be the subject of discrimination during the Second World War, but despite this he managed to excel at school. His huge range of merits, including mastering the piano and bass and being an accomplished sportsman, earned him a placed at the incredibly prestigious Yale University at the tender age of sixteen.

One success led to another. Uston attended Harvard University and earned an MBA in Finance, then he served the US Army for 8 years. It didn't take long after his career had kicked off before he had made it right to the top as CEO and President of Pacific Clearing Corporation.

Despite all of this, and despite wealth and a family by his side, Uston was miserable. To some extent, his salvation came in the form of blackjack. This is something he came across by chance on a night out. He ran into the infamous blackjack legend Al Francesco, the leader of a new blackjack card counting team. Once again, Uston's ambitious nature drew him into something which he would prove to become hugely successful at.

Uston found fame counting cards and organising teams using the 'Big Player' method (which he had been taught by Al Francesco), to the extent that he was barred from a range of casinos. He found tactics to get around this, such as wearing disguises to hide his identity. Failing this, he found himself in a position where he had to file lawsuits against the casinos that had barred him. Fortunately for Uston, the courts took his side on this matter and made it illegal for casinos to ban players who counted cards. What was the consequence of this? Well, Uston was often taken into back rooms and beaten ruthlessly by casino staff.

Uston was then forced to choose his path in life, and chose blackjack at the critical moment The San Franscisco Stock Exchange revealed its negative opinion about the fact that he was making a living out of counting cards. He left his job and gave everything to blackjack, writing plenty of books on the subject and making a bigger name for himself than ever. The most noteworthy of these books is Million Dollar Blackjack, which teaches the reader a range of blackjack strategies including the 'Uston Advanced Point Count' and the 'Uston Advanced Plus/Minus Count'. In fact, Uston's career in blackjack made him millions upon millions of dollars.

Uston's name will forever be remembered by those who are fond of the game blackjack, but the sad part of the story is that he never managed to achieve personal success despite his many career successes. He died an unhappy and lonely man in a rented apartment in Paris at the young age of 52, as a result of heart failure.

Nonetheless, the man who would bet as much as $12,000 on a single hand of blackjack is now an inspiration to blackjack players all over the globe. His impressive story has even earned him his own documentary on the History Channel!

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