Ken Uston

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Ken Uston (January 12, 1935 – September 19, 1987) was an American blackjack player, strategist and author, credited with popularizing the concept of team play at blackjack. During the early to mid-1970s he gained widespread notoriety for perfecting techniques to do team card counting in numerous casinos worldwide, earning millions of dollars from the casinos, with some bets as high as $12,000 on a single hand.

He was banned from casinos around the world and would adopt various costumes in order to conceal his identity and still be able to play. He filed a high-profile lawsuit against these casinos and successfully received a ruling from the New Jersey courts that absent a valid New Jersey Casino Commission regulation excluding card counters, casinos could not ban someone simply for counting cards at blackjack. In response, many casinos changed their systems, increasing the number of decks in games or changing rules to increase the house edge.

In the early 1980s, Uston also authored several popular books on video games and personal computers. He was the subject of a 1981 segment on 60 Minutes and in 2005, he was the subject of the History Channel documentary, "The Blackjack Man".

On the morning of September 19, 1987, Ken Uston, age 52, was found dead in his rented apartment in Paris. The cause of death was listed as heart failure.


  • The Big Player, 1977 (ISBN 0-03-016921-6)
  • One Third of a Shoe
  • Million Dollar Blackjack, 1981, Carol Publishing Group. (ISBN 0-89746-068-5)
  • Ken Uston on Blackjack (ISBN 0-942637-56-9)

Video games

  • Mastering Pac-Man, 1981 (ISBN 0-451-11899-5)
  • Ken Uston's Guide to Buying and Beating the Home Video Games, 1982 (ISBN 0-451-11901-0)
  • Ken Uston's Home Video '83, 1982 (ISBN 0-451-12010-8)
  • Score! Beating the Top 16 Video Games, 1982 (ISBN 0-451-11813-8)


  • Ken Uston's Guide to Home Computers, 1983 (ISBN 0-451-12597-5)
  • Ken Uston's Illustrated Guide to the Adam, 1984 (ISBN 0-13-514647-X)
  • Ken Uston's Illustrated Guide to the Apple IIe, 1984 (ISBN 0-13-514688-7)
  • Ken Uston's Illustrated Guide to the Commodore 64, 1984 (ISBN 0-13-514621-6)
  • Ken Uston's Illustrated Guide to the Compaq, 1984 (ISBN 0-13-514696-8)
  • Ken Uston's Illustrated Guide to the IBM PC, 1984 (ISBN 0-13-514704-2)
  • Ken Uston's Illustrated Guide to the Kaypro, 1984 (ISBN 0-13-514795-6)
  • Ken Uston's Illustrated Guide to the Macintosh, 1984 (ISBN 0-13-514829-4)
  • Ken Uston's Illustrated Guide to Today's Most Popular Computers, 1984 (ISBN 0-317-13333-0)
  • Ken Uston's Illustrated Guide to the IBM PCjr, 1985 (ISBN 0-13-514720-4)