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Keith is not well known to the general public, but among professional players he is revered as an electronics genius who has spent more than thirty years devising high-tech equipment-computers, video cameras, and communication devices-to beat the casinos. Blackjack was his initial target, and always remained his prime target. His first blackjack computer, which he completed in 1972, weighed fifteen pounds. Over the years, as computer chip technology developed, his computers became smaller, faster, and lighter. By the mid-1970s, he had a device that weighed only a few ounces that could play perfect strategy based on the exact cards remaining to be dealt. If it were up to Keith, his son Marty's name would be right along his in the Blackjack Hall of Fame, as the two have worked as partners since Marty was a teenager. For thirty years they have jointly created ever-more-clever hidden devices to beat the casinos, trained teams of players in their use, and have personally gone into the casinos to get the money. Keith and Marty may, in fact, have literally invented the concept of computer "networking," as they were wiring computer-equipped players together at casino blackjack tables thirty years ago in their efforts to beat the games. When Nevada outlawed devices in 1985, it was specifically as a result of a Taft device found on Keith's brother, Ted-a miniature video camera built into Ted's belt buckle that could relay an image of the dealer's hole card as it was being dealt to a satellite receiving dish mounted in a pickup truck in the parking lot, where an accomplice read the video image, then signaled Ted at the table with the information he needed to play his hand. An in-depth interview with Keith and Marty Taft was published in the Winter 2003-04 Blackjack Forum, and is available in the BlackjackForumOnline.com Library.
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Stanford Wong self-published his first book, Professional Blackjack, in 1975. It was later published by the Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, then revised and expanded numerous times and published by Wong's own company, Pi Yee Press.
Wong is widely regarded as one of the sharpest analysts of systems and methods for beating the casinos. In Professional Blackjack, he described a never-before-revealed table-hopping style of playing shoe games, a method of play now known as wonging. Professional Blackjack had a profound impact on serious players because it provided card counters with an easy yet powerful method for attacking the abundant four-deck shoe games that had taken over Las Vegas. Many pros still think of card-counting opportunities as "pre-Wong" and "post-Wong."
In his second book, Blackjack in Asia-a book priced at $2,000 and one of the rarest gambling books sought by collectors today - Wong discusses the unique blackjack games he had discovered in Asian casinos as a professional player, along with the optimum strategies he had devised for beating them. The book also included underground advice for exchanging currencies in these countries on the black market, as well as an account of his own hassles with customs officials when he attempted to leave the Philippines with his winnings. Of all of Wong's books, this is my personal favorite, as it reveals more of his anti-establishment personality than any of his later books.
In 1980, Wong published Winning Without Counting, priced at $200, and again, on a personal note, this is my second favorite book by Wong (and another collector's item if you can find one). He not only discusses many hole card techniques that had never before been mentioned in print-s-front-loading, spooking, and warp play-but he also delved into many clearly illegal methods of getting an edge over the house, including various techniques of bet-capping, card switching, card mucking, etc. He was widely criticized by those in the casino industry for the amusing way in which he discussed and analyzed such techniques, but anyone with half a brain could see that he was merely informing players with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.
Wong subsequently published Tournament Blackjack (1987), Basic Blackjack (1992), Casino Tournament Strategy (1992), Blackjack Secrets (1993), and since 1979 has published various newsletters including Current Blackjack News, aimed at serious and professional players.
Max is the author of Comp City, first published in 1994, with an expanded second edition published in 2002. In this groundbreaking book, Max exposed techniques even non-counting players could use to get an advantage over the casinos by exploiting weaknesses in the casinos' comp systems. Max's inside information came from his years of experience in the industry as a dealer, pit boss, and casino manager. Max still does consulting work for the Barona Casino in California.
The initial manuscript for Comp City included advanced comp-hustling techniques that could be used by professional card counters, but the editors at Huntington Press decided to delete this section from the book in order to appeal to the wider market of recreational players. These excluded portions were published in Blackjack Forum in June 1994, and can be found now in the BlackjackForumOnline.com Library.
In the mid-1990s, he started hosting the Blackjack Ball, a secret annual event for professional players, where he serves as Game Master as many of the top pros compete for the Blackjack Cup and the title of World's Best Blackjack Player.