Ken Uston - The Blackjack Man

When speaking about Ken Uston, the first word that comes to one's mind is "blackjack". In fact, it's he who was the first to use professionally the group card counting methods, which later were developed by his team and it's worth being mentioned that probably his team members were one of the best blackjack players and card counters in the world. But let's talk about Ken's life consequently.


Ken Uston was born under the name of Kenneth Senzo Usui, in New York City in a family of a Japanese emigrant father and Austrian emigrant mother. When he grew up to 16 years old he was taken to Yale University and there he was a pretty good scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

After graduating from Yale University Ken went to Harvard to earn his MBA degree. Later he was a vice-president of Pacific Stock Exchange, and there he was the youngest vice-president in the history of this huge enterprise.

Blackjack as a lifestyle

In 1983 when Ken Uston was interviewed by Blackjack Forum, he admitted that blackjack fascination came to him when he met Al Francesco at a poker game. Al has just collected a team of well-trained guys who were going to play blackjack in casinos, and after a short talk Ken agreed to take part in the whole occasion. The Big Player type of the game which was invented by Al Francesco genius gave its results: bet variations were excluded and pit bosses couldn't make out what the matter was; as a result during one evening the whole team won around 44.100 $ and among them were Ken's 2.100 $ earned honestly.

In a couple of months Ken was already allowed to play as a Big Player, and that was a big sign because only a good card counter could be entrusted such a task. Ken dealt with it brilliantly. During his entire following career in Al Francesco's team he was among the best of the best.

After a few years of team-play Ken Uston published a book where he uncovered the secrets of group card counting, and in a short period of time Al Francesco's team was barred from a casino where they were going to play. A lot of former teammates hated Uston for that trick.

Ken Uston soon started his own blackjack team, and it was very successful and won millions of dollars worldwide from casinos. Soon he became really recognizable all over the USA and couldn't show his real face in any casino.

As a result he became a master of disguise and he is also very well-known for his amazing tricks concerning changing his personality.

Video and computer games

Also Ken was really curious about video and home computer games, and he wrote a few books about it which appeared to be bestsellers. He always tried to make the game a challenge and win it with the maximum possible score.


Ken Uston was found dead in his house in France on September 19, 1987. The death list has shown that he died from heart failure. But he will be remembered forever by all those thankful players and just people who understand the curious and lively nature of a real player.