Stanford Wong was actually born John Ferguson in 1943. And even though his name might have changed along the way, his love for games has always remained the same.
When he was about six years old, he learned the rules for tic tac toe. While his friends were jumping right in and playing the game, Stanford was figuring out the best strategy. He never lost a game of tic tac toe.
At the age of twelve, Stanford developed an interest in blackjack and set about using an office calculator to figure out the expectations of the game. He read numerous books on the subject and mastered the art of card counting. Then, it was all a matter of waiting until he turned 21 and could put his knowledge to practical use.
He began gambling professionally in 1964, while still pursuing his undergraduate degree from Stanford University. He would go on to attain a PhD in Statistics from Stanford and receive his well-known pseudonym in the process. A friend in the PhD program dubbed him Stanford Wong, taking his alma mater as the first name and an Asian last name to capture the "mystique of the Orient." Wong became a member of the university's faculty and continued to hone his skills at gambling.
Vegas blackjack was originally dealt from a single deck, but as time passed, the casinos made things tougher by introducing four-deck blackjack. The calculations which Wong had made as a young man no longer applied, and he found himself needing more complex statistics to remain competitive against the house.
Working on an early college computer, he developed strategy numbers for four-deck blackjack games and published his first book, Professional Blackjack, in 1975. The success of the book was undeniable. It has become the cornerstone of the blackjack industry and many have gone so far as to label it "the bible of blackjack."
Wong has written numerous other books dealing with various casino games. They include:
He started a sports gambling website (www.sharpsportsbetting.com) and remains a frequent contributor. He also runs a blackjack website (www.bj21.com) which provides a newsletter dealing with information about various blackjack games in casinos in the United States and some other countries. But, surprisingly, Wong does not actively play blackjack professionally today.
In an article published in the October 16th, 2003, issue of the Las Vegas Mercury, the grandfather and resident of La Jolla, California, explained his absence from the game which has made him a legend. "I found the game to be a huge challenge when I was young. But, today, I've mastered the challenge, and I no longer need the money. That's the thing about blackjack, you have to be hungry to win at it. You have to go to casinos at four in the morning when the tables are empty, and you have to go for it. I no longer have the desire to do that."
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