Million Dollar Blackjack

Ken Uston‘s Million Dollar Blackjack is a great book, but for a beginning player out to learn basic strategy and card counting it is no longer the place to start. There are newer books with more simple strategies and simple but effective counts and a more organized ways of explaining them. Though the betting strategies and basic strategies for multiple-deck games described in Million Dollar Blackjack are accurate, the information regarding spooking and early surrender is in practical terms as good as obsolete. The book is largely a manual on how to master basic strategy, card counting, apply team play and hole-card play, but the information is dated and some of it is no longer applicable.

However, the blackjack guide parts of this book are complemented by some of Uston’s autobiographical stories, and despite (or maybe more accurately because of) Uston’s flamboyance and tendency to extol his own feats these stories are great. There are three of these autobiographical stories, the first on Uston’s early experiences playing blackjack professionally in Las Vegas, the second on his experiences using an early blackjack computer (“Jerry” is the name Uston uses for Keith Taft), and the third on the very early days of legalized gambling in Atlantic City where Uston formed his own blackjack team. Along with the strategies Uston describes for the use of application in (team)play, these vignettes provide a great amount of insight into the history of blackjack, card counting and team play, as well as insight into the mind of a professional blackjack player. It reveals the workings of blackjack and team play as a business rather than a lonely profession, and the life these blackjack players led in the 70s and early 80s. Million Dollar Blackjack is inspiring and has great entertainment value.