Julian Braun

Julian Braun spent most of his adult life, over 25 years, working as a programmer for IBM. He spent relatively little time in casinos – though he has once been barred from one – betting low stakes when he did gamble. He was not a professional gambler nor was he a raconteur. Yet he is a long-standing Blackjack Hall of Fame member, and was a key figure in the development of many popular blackjack systems.

Thorp’s Program

Julian Braun was born in Chicago in 1929. He held degrees in mathematics and physics and served in the U.S. Marine Corps. It was Ed Thorp‘s 1961 Beat the Dealer that first spoke to Braun’s imagination. It fascinated him that Thorp had put computers to this use. He subsequently wrote to Thorp and asked for a copy of his program, which he received by post with no explanation to go with it. Braun studied it carefully and then wrote an improved version, which he used to refine Thorp’s numbers and strategies for the second edition (1966) of the book.

Revere and Humble

Braun tested his ideas using this same program, and used it to develop various blackjack systems. His program was used to develop all of Lawrence Revere‘s systems, first published in Playing Blackjack as a Business in 1969. In the 1970s he went on to co-create the Hi Opt I and Hi Opt II systems with Lance Humble. This means that most pros playing blackjack pre-1975, as well as most other players using the most widely disseminated popular systems and counts, were using systems developed using Braun’s programs.

How to Play Winning Blackjack

So for almost ten years Julian Braun’s programming work dominated the field of advantage play. Though he did occasionally play blackjack himself, he has stated that he never played for big stakes. He did not win large amounts of money, but simply not losing any money did get him barred from a casino in Reno. He also wrote his own book on blackjack, the low-key and straightforward How to Play Winning Blackjack published in 1980, which has since gone out of print. The book traced 18 years worth of Braun’s work on blackjack. Braun retired in 1987, after which he worked as a day trader in the stock and commodity market.

Julian Braun died in 2000 at the age of 71. He was inducted in the Blackjack Hall of Fame along with Lawrence Revere in 2005.