John Chang

John Chang, aka Johnny C, rose to fame in the blackjack world as team manager of the MIT Blackjack Team. He has set up various blackjack teams since then, and still plays to this very day.

Joining the Team

John Chang joined the team through coincidence. He had once taken a class on blackjack between semesters, but had lacked the funds to play for real. Some time later he saw an advertisement for students. They could make $300 by learning how to play blackjack. This sparked his interest. Many people applied, but by the end of the course he was one of the five remaining players. This was 1981. Together they travelled to Atlantic City where Johnny C played for real for the first time.

Upping the Stakes

Even starting out at $5-10 maximum stakes and not really receiving much in the way of pay, Johnny C was enjoying the game. Soon, however, he would work his way up to playing a number of simultaneous hands at the MIT team limit of $10 000. When he worked his way up to team management there were new challenges to overcome besides heat and the stress of making errors. In a blackjack team, you can’t just fire troublesome players like any other company would fire a disgruntled employee. That can really get a team into trouble. One disgruntled player who had been dismissed went so far as to sell the Griffin Agency the names of other players on the team.

A New Team

After Strategic Investments came to an end, Johnny C set up a new team, but this time as big motivating factor he insisted that every player invested money into the team bank to instill a sense of responsibility and the need to function smoothly as a team on all players. He also threw out many strategies players in S.I. had used, such as shuffle tracking and ace sequencing. It was all down to counting now, and it made a difference. The difference was that the team started winning big.

Not Big on Disguise, But…

John Chang has said that disguise has never been big in his team, but he does have a funny story about one particular disguise of his. His Griffin and Biometrica pages have some pictures of Johnny C disguised as a woman. The reason was that one time his team mates wouldn’t let him play without a disguise, but any fake facial hair – a straightforward disguise for many male players – looked clownish on him. So the woman he was dating at the time dressed him up in her clothes and did his make up. His teammates were in stitches when he went out to play in his new disguise, but the casino never noticed a thing. He eventually got busted with a similar female disguise, though less expertly done, in the Taj in Atlantic City when he was playing the high stakes table and a small and slender Asian woman sat next to him. He difference between their posture and hand size suddenly looked quite striking to the security staff and they took a closer look. When they found out who he was they brought in a reporter and an article with pictures appeared in the Washington Post. Johnny C laughs the whole thing off in an interview with Richard Munchkin, saying that at least for the security staff it made their day, if not their month.

Leaving Money Lying Around

Johnny Chang has been robbed by casinos and crooked dealers, his team has had money stolen by casinos, police and the Drug Enforcement Administration when travelling with cash. He’s been threatened and cheated by casino staff and physically harassed. But he also has funny anecdotes, such as his wife clearing out his old apartment and finding $165,000 he had misplaced around the house. His only comment on this was that he felt he was coming up a bit short lately. Another time, when police searched his apartment they found a similar wad of cash ($100,000) lying around and thought Chang was involved with a gang. He eventually got his money back, but the whole affair cost him $10,000 in lawyers’ fees.

John Chang was voted a member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2007.