Ken Uston is perhaps the most famous winning Blackjack player noted for his expertise in team play card counting. Uston won millions over his professional Blackjack career from casinos around the world, earning him celebrity status in the 1970s and ’80s. Ken authored several best-selling novels on the subject of Blackjack and Casino gambling strategies. A mathematical genius, Ken also authored 10 computer guidebooks and 4 video game strategy books in the mid-’80s.
Born January 12, 1935, as ‘Kenneth Senzo Usui’ in New York City, Ken’s father, Senzo Usui, was a Japanese businessman before moving to the United States, which presented its own problems for the family after World War II. Despite racial slurs and taunts from other children, Kenneth excelled at many things – school, piano, sports, skill games – and was advanced through his schooling years, skipping several grades.
Ken attended the University of Connecticut, where his family then resided, transferring to Yale where his father Senzo was a professor. In 1955, at the age of 20, he graduated from Yale with a degree in Economics. Uston then went on to Harvard University where he received an MBA in Finance. Eight years in the army reserves saw Ken Uston given an honorable discharge as the second lieutenant. Ken, adopting strict work ethics from his father, found himself ready to conquer the business world.
Ken Uston met his wife, Betty, who would soon mother his 3 children. After moving his family to Marin County, Ken worked his way to President and CEO of Pacific Clearing Corporation, but he soon came to loathe the corporate world, filled with backstabbing, greed, and ladder climbing. In 1965, employed at the San Francisco Stock Exchange, he made the decision to “find himself” and managed to do so in a single night.
Uston went out one evening to a party where he met “AL Francesco”, who introduced Ken to the world of Blackjack card counting. Ken was sure he could master the game of Blackjack and gain substantial wealth in the process, so he began studying the game during his lunch hours. Once his confidence was sufficient, he traveled to Las Vegas and began his conquering of the casinos.
Uston gained notoriety quickly, stories of his success hitting the airways and newspapers. Ken resigned from his job at the Stock Exchange to pursue Blackjack as a full-time career. Throughout the 1970s and ’80s, Uston saw elaborate success at the tables, earning him the lifestyle of a celebrity bachelor (now divorced from his wife). Ken had it all – Limo’s, parties, comped casino suites, and lots of women – yet he was not happy.
Somewhere along the way, Ken Uston had lost his relationship with his 3 children. He was beaten and thrown out of casinos on a regular basis. Aside from the amassed fortune, and even that at times, Uston just didn’t see much to be happy about.
Ken underwent legal battles with casinos and his ex-wife, which continued until his death at age 52. Uston was found on the floor of his rented apartment in Paris, France in 1987. The cause of death was official documented as heart failure.
Blackjack Books Authored by Ken Uston:
– The Big Player – 1977
– One-Third of a Shoe [and] How You Can Win At Blackjack in Atlantic City – 1979
– Million Dollar Blackjack – 1981
– Ken Uston on Blackjack – 1986
Other Books Authored by Ken Uston:
– Mastering PAC-MAN – 1981
– Ken Uston’s Guide to Buying and Beating the Home Video Games – 1982
– Ken Uston’s Home Video ’83 – 1982
– Score! Beating the Top 16 Video Games – 1982
– Ken Uston’s Guide to Home Computers – 1983
– Ken Uston’s Illustrated Guide to the Adam – 1984
– Ken Uston’s Illustrated Guide to the Apple IIe – 1984
– Ken Uston’s Illustrated Guide to the Commodore 64 – 1984
– Ken Uston’s Illustrated Guide to the Compaq – 1984
– Ken Uston’s Illustrated Guide to the IBM PC – 1984
– Ken Uston’s Illustrated Guide to the Kaypro – 1984
– Ken Uston’s Illustrated Guide to the Macintosh – 1984
– Ken Uston’s Illustrated Guide to Today’s Most Popular Computers – 1984
– Ken Uston’s Illustrated Guide to the IBM PCjr – 1985