A lot of people dream of being a professional blackjack player and a card counter. Many of them make their dream come true, but only the best of the best can claim inclusion into the Blackjack Hall of Fame. Being inducted as a member is an acknowledgement of a player’s accomplishments in blackjack.

If you plan on making it to the Blackjack Hall of Fame, be prepared to invest a lot of time and practice in your blackjack skills. The Hall is a super-exclusive collection of the world’s best blackjack players, authors, and strategists.

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History Of The Blackjack Hall Of Fame

In 2002 the Barona Casino in San Diego, California came up with the idea of creating the Blackjack Hall of Fame. The idea was something of a novelty in the beginning which can be attributed to the increasing popularity of gambling card games. The Barona saw the creation of the Hall as a way to capitalize on the popularity of the game and potentially attract visitors to the casino.

It might seem strange that card counting is something that would be rewarded by any casino. All of the men and women who are elected to membership have a connection to card counting. They have either written about it or made a living from it. One could say that the creation of the Blackjack Hall of Fame by the Barona Casino was in some way an admission by the gaming companies that card counting does exist in blackjack and that ultimately little can be done to stop it. As we will see, the Barona Casino actually benefited in this regard from creating the Hall.

The Barona Casino still houses and retains the exclusive rights to the Blackjack Hall of Fame. Guests of the casino can visit the Hall and see information about those who have been given this honor.

The First Members Of The Blackjack Hall Of Fame

The very first nominations for membership were announced in the winter of 2002. There were 21 nominees in the first group, and that number was chosen for obvious reasons. All of the nominees were players who had established themselves as blackjack experts. Some of them were players, some of them were writers, and some were simply experts on the game.

It was decided that the public would be allowed to vote on the first group of 21 nominees via the Internet. This was done in an effort to spark interest in the Blackjack Hall of Fame and it worked pretty well. Many people cast their votes online.

The voting was concluded and an induction ceremony was scheduled for January 2003 at the Blackjack Ball. The Blackjack Ball was a private event hosted by Max Rubin and open only to a very select group of blackjack professionals. It was at this gathering that the first 7 members of the Hall were announced.

The first class of honorees was:

  • Al Francesco. Francesco was a pioneer in creating the concept of teams of card counters.
  • Peter Griffin. Griffin is remembered more as a mathematician and one who contributed to the theory of blackjack through his books, including The Theory of Blackjack.
  • Arnold Snyder. Snyder is a legendary player as well as blackjack author.
  • Edward O. Thorp. Considered by many blackjack players to be the father of card counting theory, Thorp has probably been responsible for introducing more people to blackjack than any other person.
  • Ken Uston. Uston was another expert blackjack player who changed the game with his principles of card counting and team blackjack play.
  • Stanford Wong. Wong has written many blackjack books and continues to be a presence in the game.
  • Tommy Hyland. Hyland managed one of the longest-running blackjack teams to ever attack the casino.

These seven men became the first to enter the Blackjack Hall of Fame. Each one of them has contributed to the understanding of blackjack and card counting through their playing experience and writing.

Benefits Of The Blackjack Hall Of Fame

The Barona Casino wanted to honor players by creating the Blackjack Hall of Fame, but they also had a secondary motive. In exchange for membership in the Hall, members must agree never to play at the Barona’s blackjack tables! Essentially, the Barona guaranteed that the most powerful blackjack experts in the world would not turn their skills on the casino. This seems to be a pretty smart move in preventing card counters.

And what do the members receive for being honored? They are given a lifetime comp by the Barona for full room, food, and beverage. That sounds pretty good, but remember that the members are no longer allowed to play at the Barona. This makes the comp somewhat useless.

Truthfully, the comp given by the Barona is just a token. The true benefit of membership in the Blackjack Hall of Fame is the honor and prestige that comes from being recognized by one’s peers. The members of the Hall can take pride in the fact that their contributions to blackjack and card counting have been duly noted.

Controversy And The Blackjack Hall Of Fame

To date, no women have been inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame. They have been nominated, but none have been elected so far. This exclusion of women has caused much discussion and debate among members of the gambling community.

Gambling games have long been considered the exclusive domain of men. The stereotypical gambler is always depicted as a cigar-chomping, whiskey-drinking man. This attitude has largely kept blackjack an exclusive boy’s club in the eyes of most blackjack professionals.

There are indications that this mentality is slowly changing. In recent years, women have become more prominent in blackjack and also poker. These female blackjack players are very good and they can compete with the best male players. It seems that it is only a matter of time before the gambling community recognizes the contributions of women to the game of blackjack and includes them in the Hall of Fame.

Other Members Of The Blackjack Hall Of Fame

Currently, only one new member is added to the Blackjack Hall of Fame each year. This has made it even more difficult to qualify for membership. Those who manage to be included can rest assured that their names will forever be associated with excellence in the game of blackjack.

Here is a list of those members who were added after the initial seven with the date of their induction:

  • Max Rubin, 2004.
  • Keith Taft, 2004.
  • Julian Braun, 2005.
  • Lawrence Revere, 2005.
  • James Grosjean, 2006.
  • John Chang, 2007.
  • Roger Baldwin 2008.
  • Wilbert Cantey 2008.
  • Herbert Maisel 2008
  • James McDermott, 2008.
  • Richard W. Munchkin, 2009
  • Darryl Purpose, 2010.
  • Zeljko Ranogajec, 2011.
  • Ian Anderson, 2012.

Anyone who plays blackjack, either professionally or just for fun, owes all of these men a tremendous debt of gratitude for the contributions they have made to the game. Without them, winning at blackjack would be much more difficult. They have proven that blackjack is a game that can be beaten and that one can win consistently if they understand the basic theories of card counting and the mathematical aspects of the game. To be recognized for their accomplishments is a great honor.

You may also find this interesting: Blackjack Ball: The Secret Gathering Of The World’s Best Blackjack Players.

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