Don Johnson

Don Johnson  No, not that Don Johnson, but an interesting fellow all the same. Businessman Don Johnson is noteworthy on account that he took the casinos for millions (over $15 million in fact) playing Blackjack, but without using the ubiquitous card counting technique.

His winning streak occurred during 2011 – 2012 and pertained to an agreement with the casino that it would be allowed only a 0.26% edge. He then negotiated a separate loss rebate deal that pushed the edge slightly in his favour.

It was in a sense more of a ‘hack’ or loophole’ based on mathematical chance, and probably isn’t something that would work today in the more sophisticated casino environment. It certainly worked for him back then though, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts.

Edward Thorp

Edward Thorp  Edward Thorp is seen to some as the Godfather of card counting. He was the first person to publish a book which mathematically proved that card counting (tracking high and low cards) could be used to beat the house edge in blackjack. This is detailed in his book Beat the Dealer .

A maths professor by profession, he put his knowledge to good use, eventually having to use disguises due to the reputation that he was developing in the casino world. This was the 1960s and beyond, so he was well ahead of his time.

He also used his mathematically abilities and techniques to beat other casino games such as baccarat, backgammon, and roulette. Some of the techniques used have now been stamped out by casinos, as they will of course go to any lengths to maintain their edge.

Dennis Nikrasch

Dennis Nikrasch  Dennis Nikrasch doesn’t do things by half measures, and is known to have carried out the largest slot machine scam in Las Vegas casino history. He profited from his scam to the tune of $16,000,000+ and the scheme itself falls more under opportunism than ingenious.

Nikrasch and his motley crew would distract slot machine mechanics with the aim of making an imprint of the key to enable them to unlock the machine. They would then later return and set the reels to the jackpot winning combination. In 1986 this technique worked for them to the tune of $10 million.

Amazingly many casinos still hadn’t got wise to the scam and they repeated it in 1998 winning another $6 million. They were eventually caught, but how much they really made over the years is to this day a mystery. Some have suggested it could be as much as $4,000,000 a year.

Stanford Wong

Stanford Wong  An author of several gambling books (such as Professional Blackjack, first published in 1975), Stanford Wong had an analytical approach to his card playing. He even released a blackjack hand analysing software program in the early days of computing. Some would say he was ahead of his time.

He came up with a technique, known as ‘Wonging’ which involved watching rather than waging until finally betting when the count is in the players favour, and only during that time. His technique was so successful that casinos now typically have a “No Mid-Shoe Entry” sign up, forcing them to play directly after a shuffle rather than at a time of their own choosing.

At one point he finances a team of advantage players that would play card games at various casinos across Las Vegas. His last contribution as an author is the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gambling Like a Pro.