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Stanford Wong didn't invent the hi-lo card counting method in blackjack, but his book Professional Blackjack is now considered the authoritative guide on the subject.
Stanford Wong's Professional Blackjack has been in print for over 30 years and is now the authoritative guide on the hi-lo method used to count cards in blackjack. Wong, an author of a whole series of gambling game guides, is not actually Chinese. Born in 1943 as plain old John Ferguson, Wong decided to beef up his persona by adding an oriental pseudonym. A financial wizard with a PhD in finance from California's Stanford University (hence the first name), Wong entered the world of teaching following his studies. However, having been bitten by the gambling bug at an early age, he found himself pulled in a different direction out of the world of academia into something a little more risky. In fact, there is a rumor that Wong agreed to be paid a salary of $1 for his last term of teaching at the school where he worked so that he could avoid faculty meetings and pursue his gambling career.
This book outlines the principle of hi-lo card counting from the bottom up. Wong describes the system in detail, providing the reader with back-up information in the form of computer analysis. The reader is provided with a range of carefully calculated tables on percentage outcomes and odds ratios that will inevitably help swing the odds in favor of the blackjack player.
However, this is not a beginner's guide to card counting, and will likely leave the greenhorn blackjack player dazed and confused. The book will be mostly appreciated by those with a good track record of blackjack gaming and beginners should probably try something a little less technical.
In the 30 years since this book first appeared on the shelves, casinos have certainly become more aware of the card counting techniques used by the likes of Wong and his imitators. Under the watchful eyes of experienced floor managers and electronic surveillance equipment, you have to be pretty sharp these days to employ card counting methods on the blackjack table. Due to their status as private clubs, casinos have every right to ask you to leave their premises even if they simply suspect you're counting the cards.
Wong's book contains tables, anecdotes, theories, and more tables. In fact, his recommendation for success is to memorize the tables and carry them around inside your head. He's probably right. The days of marking x's and o's on the back of a beer mat are over, and more sophisticated play is required.
Another credit to this renowned author is the fact that a special blackjack term - "wonging" was named after him. This involved a player watching a blackjack game from the sidelines, without playing, but counting the cards, and then stepping into the game when the card count was more favorable. This practice is now banned in many casinos under the rule of no "mid-shoe entry".
Using a brisk writing style and a talent for explaining complicated mathematical theory in an easily understood manner, Wong has produced a book that must be in every serious blackjack player's library.
Stanford Wong is the pseudonym of gambling expert and author John Ferguson. With a string of books on the subject of sports betting, poker, and other casino games to his name, Wong is a familiar face on TV where he regularly commentates on gambling contests and tourneys. The owner of his own publishing house, Pi Yee Press, Wong has also created a computer program called the Blackjack Analyzer, which is now used commercially to analyze blackjack gaming odds.