James Grosjean isn't just a professional blackjack player. He's a master card counter, author, and member of the prestigious Blackjack Hall of Fame.
Grosjean started playing blackjack professionally while studying as a graduate student in the University of Chicago's Department of Mathematics. It wasn't long after that James spotted his first dealer hole card at a table and began calculating original analysis of how to best exploit the opportunity. Since that time, he has never looked back. And the world of blackjack has never been the same.
He is perhaps best known for his book Beyond Counting: Exploiting Casino Games from Blackjack to Video Poker (2000). This book has become a bible for any serious gambler and made Grosjean's name recognizable all over the world.
In his book, Grosjean performs mathematical analysis of card counting, most of which will be especially useful to numerically minded readers. The calculations are well explained and should help readers formulate their own numbers in the future. He also examines the math of partner play and discusses cheaters, dealer, and spotters. Grosjean also provides travel tips for weary gamblers who must shuffle from casino to casino in city after city. In addition, he covers advantage play at games such as Caribbean Stud Poker, Let It Ride, and many others. He also covers Craps, Three Card Poker, and the Big Six Wheel (which many consider groundbreaking information).
James has also collaborated with Keith Taft on a blackjack computer which was used in a situation where computer play was legal. Taft, himself a member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame, called Grosjean's programming and calculations "brilliant."
In gambling circles, Grosjean may be best known for his legal battles against casinos and investigation agencies. To card players who use legal means to beat the house, Grosjean's victories in court have been a boon to the entire gambling community.
On September 13th, 2005, Griffin Investigations was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to legal costs and damages stemming from a successful defamation lawsuit against the company by Michael Russo and James Grosjean. Griffin Investigations had long worked for the casinos, compiling information on cheaters, card counters, and other "undesirable" casino patrons. In many cases, casinos would detain or ban customers based on the information provided by the firm. The lawsuit stated that Russo and Grosjean had both been improperly detained, labeled as cheaters, and arrested, all due to information provided by Griffin Investigations. In July of 2005, a jury in Clark County District Court issued a $45,659 judgment on behalf of the two gamblers. Russo was awarded $25,000 in damages and $15,000 in punitive damages, and Grosjean was awarded $25,000 in damages and $10,000 in punitive damages.
Needless to say, the downfall of the hated Griffin Investigations was celebrated throughout the gambling community, making James a most beloved figure and leader in the fight for gambler's rights.
But the lawsuit against Griffin wasn't the only legal case that James would file and win. While he has lawsuits pending against both Caesar's Palace and two Nevada Gaming Control Board agents, he also won a $400,000 verdict against the Imperial Palace in a wrongful imprisonment suit.
Grosjean contended that he was detained at Caesar's Palace in April of 2000 and later at the Imperial Palace. Grosjean and a friend were detained at Caesar's Palace for five hours, accused of cheating, then arrested and taken to the Clark County Detention Center. While his friend was released the next day, Grosjean was held in custody for 4 1/2 days. While they were charged with cheating, Grosjean maintains that the sloppy dealer had been continually exposing the hole card. Despite numerous surveillance devices, the casino could offer no proof to substantiate their claims of wrongdoing.
Several weeks later, Grosjean visited the Imperial Palace and found himself confronted by a security guard. "I wasn't even playing," Grosjean was later quoted as saying. "I noticed a guard watching me, so I left. But he followed me, and he did get physical. He put his hands on my chest, and he blocked me from leaving."
Grosjean was then handcuffed and taken to a holding cell by six guards. His pockets were emptied, and he was then interrogated and threatened.
A jury in the Clark County District Court found that Grosjean's rights were violated by the Imperial Palace, and he was awarded $500,000 in punitive damages. A statutory limit, however, limited the award to $300,000. But James also received $99,999 in actual damages, bringing his winnings to $399,999, not to mention the $18,000 in interest, as well as undetermined reimbursements for legal fees and related costs.
Thanks to his legal and literary accomplishments, James Grosjean was inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2006. As the most recent member, he joins legendary inductees Al Francesco, Max Rubin, Peter Griffin, Tommy Hyland, Arnold Snyder, Edward O. Thorp, Ken Uston, Stanford Wong, Keith Taft, Julian Braun, and Lawrence Revere.
Grosjean continues to play blackjack in casinos around the world, but these days he often wears disguises to keep the casinos guessing as to his identity.
He will be competing in the second week of the Ultimate Blackjack Tour. His opponents will be Jimmy Pine, Antonio Esfandiari, David Matthews, Robert Blechman, Joanna Wlodawer, and Eric Bloore. This 10-week series is televised nationally every Saturday on CBS.
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