Blackjack Idols
Al Francesco - Blackjack Game Guru

The concept of team play at blackjack would not exist without Al Francesco – the blackjack pro, the inventor of the strategy of Big Player and the father of blackjack team play. He and his blackjack team won millions of dollars by using card counting; moreover, they were not detected by casinos. All famous blackjack teams, such as the MIT blackjack team, the Hyland team and others, used Al Francesco’s concept of Big Player – the strategy of blackjack team play.

Al Francesco was honored as the Blackjack Hall of Fame member for his contribution to the blackjack game development: his blackjack team play has definitely changed the history of blackjack and gave a birth to many famous blackjack names, such as Ken Uston and MIT Blackjack Team for example.

The “birth” of the blackjack pro

Al Francesco had been playing different blackjack types from his early ages when he lived in his native city Gary, Indiana; though his winnings were not very big, they were quite enough for living. In 1963 Al moved to California and tried to use the counting system of Edward Thorp at playing blackjack: it seemed to be difficult for him and Francesco decided to improve his skills before coming back and play blackjack again. Thorp’s book Beat the Dealer really worked for Al Francesco and he began to win really big money, and this fact definitely could not stay unnoticed by pit bosses: they banned Al from their casinos and Francesco stopped playing blackjack at that moment, and he came back to this game only after 8 years.

Now Francesco used Lawrence Revere's card counting system though understood it was not perfect also: Al came to conclusion that he needed to create some new strategy of playing blackjack; such a strategy found its realization in the concept of blackjack team play.

Al Francesco’s blackjack team


In 1971, Al Francesco began playing blackjack as a team of 7 people: six of them were counters and the 7th one – the big player; the idea to create such a scheme came to Francesco when he played in the Lake Tahoe casino with his brother. Al taught those six people to use basic blackjack strategy and Lawrence Revere’s counting system, and such a system worked till 1977 when Ken Uston, the former member of Francesco’s blackjack team, published his book The Big Player: Uston opened all the secrets and described all schemes and strategies of Francesco. As a result, Al and all his team members (there were 21 of them already) were banned from casinos forever.


Today Al Francesco does not play blackjack anymore; he was honored as a member of the well-known Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2003 and he had enough time now to devote himself to his other passion – horse-racing as well as other interests.