Blackjack Idols
Brief Biography of Ken Uston

Ken Uston – the most famous blackjack player, the author of books, video and computer games; the one who popularized the concept of team play at blackjack; the inventor of some computer devices for playing blackjack; the disguise master who changed his appearance for having a chance to play blackjack; the one who won the case against Atlantic City casinos; the genius with IQ of 169; one of the top 7 blackjack idols who became the initial members of the Blackjack Hall of Fame….

Well, as you see, many words can be said about this exciting and amazing person, whose name is inscribed to the history of blackjack forever. Who is blackjack Ken Uston and how he had become such a considerable figure of this card game?

Early ages

Uston’s original name was Kenneth Senzo Usui and he was born in the 12th of January, 1935. His family:

  • the father – a businessman form Japan who came to the USA in 1929
  • the mother – a volunteer from Austria who helped poor children and taught them to read
  • the sisters – Nancy and Lynn

Ken was born and spent his childhood in New York (Long Island) and Connecticut (New Haven) where his family moved after World War II.

When he was 16, he entered Yale University and after graduating it became the student of Harvard University to earn a MBA degree. Afterwards, Uston worked as a manager of American Cement.

Family of blackjack Ken Uston

When studied at Harvard University, Ken Uston met his future wife Betty who was attracted by his outgoing personality. They gave a birth to 3 children: Beth Anne, Katie and John who was born in San Francisco, California (Uston moved there with Betty and their two daughters).

In California Ken Uston became a vice-president of the Pacific Stock Exchange and spent weekends in casinos playing blackjack and becoming a world-famous card counter.

Hello, Blackjack!

After meeting Al Francesco and becoming a member of his blackjack team, Ken Uston begins to improve his blackjack skills and understand the concept of team play at blackjack when the gamblers played at different tables using card counting system.

Having become a real professional gambler, Uston decided to give up his job at Pacific Stock and devote himself to blackjack only. During the period of 1980s, he had become one of the most popular blackjack celebrities who won millions of dollars all over the world. He had everything he wanted: women, cars, money, parties….

“I want to share…”

Ken Uston has left a huge heritage for his fans and successors: he is the author of 4 books about blackjack, numerous books on the topic of computer and video games and special computer devices which he created together with his blackjack team but they were prohibited to use by FBI as considered to be the method of cheating at blackjack; anyway, Uston was discharged and bailed because of that case.

Not everything was fine…

By the time Ken Uston has become a considerable figure of blackjack, he has been already divorced with his wife Betty and had bad relations with his kids though tried to do his best to be a good father for them.

Moreover, he was banned by many casinos because of his constant winnings and using card counting system for that; so, Uston had to wear different clothes and changed his appearance in order to play blackjack.

He won the case against Atlantic City casinos as for the right of blackjack players to use card counting during a game.

The end

Ken Uston was found dead in September (the 19th) 1987 in his Paris apartment; the cause of his death is believed to be heart failure.

In 2003, Uston was honored to become the member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame posthumously: his input to the game of blackjack is difficult to overestimate.