Blackjack Book Reviews
Learn How to Play Blackjack Like a Pro
If you want to learn how to play blackjack, there are two moves you need to make. The obvious step on your mission to greater profits is to actually play the game. However, before you can ante up like a pro, you need to learn how to think like one. Over the last 50 years or so, blackjack books have become hugely popular as experts have sought to explore the game’s fundamental skills and enlighten the masses.
For you, the aspiring player, this is fantastic news as it means there’s a wealth of information out there just waiting to be read. However, with so much advice on the market, it can be hard to sort through rough and find the diamonds. Fortunately, we’ve decided to do the hard work for you and pick some of the best blackjack books in the business. Essentially, what we’ve created is a blackjack blue book on the top guides on the market today.
Unlike other blackjack book reviews, we’ve taken a universal approach. We’ve picked out the best blackjack books for players at every point on the betting spectrum. Starting with beginner guides and working through to pro strategy and card counting tips, our guide will give you the best blackjack books in each category. To finish our rundown of recommended blackjack books, we’ve highlighted books that tell the story of the game. Finally, just so you don’t put a foot wrong, we’ve also noted a famous book you might want to avoid.
So how did we set about writing our blackjack book reviews? First, we went directly to some of the game’s leading pros. From Edward O. Thorp to Stanford Wong, our blackjack blue book is inspired by some of the top players ever to set foot inside a casino. We also wanted to find the books that would give you ways to think about the game. Works such as Radical Blackjack put on spin on some basic concepts and force you to think about practical situations in a practical way. Finally, we wanted our recommended blackjack books to be accessible. Wading through statistics and data can be tricky, so we’ve made sure that our selections can be understood easily by the average player.
The Top Blackjack Books for Beginners
Kevin Blackwood: Casino Gambling for Dummies
In our opinion, you can’t dive into the world of blackjack books without first understanding the basics of betting. If you’re a complete newbie, Kevin Blackwood’s Casino Gambling for Dummies is a must. Offering the type of advice you’d expect from a book with dummy in the title, Blackwood takes you through the fundamentals of betting. From understanding odds to managing your money, this book is the perfect foundation for the rest of our recommended blackjack books.
John Bukofsky: Play Like the Pros
Everyone thinks they can play like a pro, but you’ll never really know how to hit, stand and double like an expert without listening to John Bukofsky first. Published in 2006, this book followed a similar format to Phil Hellmuth’s Play Poker Like the Pros (2004). In fact, a foreword by Hellmuth leads you into a step-by-step strategy guide. What’s great about Play Like the Pros is that it starts with basic techniques and gradually builds up to pro-level skills. For us, the most important chapter covers negative variance, something all beginners need to know how to handle.
Rick Blaine: Blackjack Blueprint
In our intro, we promised that this guide would read like a blackjack blue book of betting literature, so it makes sense to include Rick Blaine’s Blackjack Blueprint. Aside from continuing the colour theme, this book is a must read if you’re planning on moving from one of our recommended blackjack sites into the live casino world. As a part-time “pro” himself, Blaine outlines a variety of practical tips to stay ahead of the game. As well as a basic strategy refresher, you’ll want to read this book for its tips on how to extract more value from the game through comps (bonuses) and tournaments.
Recommended Advanced Blackjack Books
Stanford Wong: Professional Blackjack
Arguably the definitive authority on blackjack, Wong has written many books on casino and sports betting. Inspired by Edward O. Thorp’s Beat the Dealer, Wong used his natural and academic math skills and applied them to gambling. Published in 1994, Professional Blackjack is one of his standout titles and, during an online interview, Wong estimates that it’s sold more than 100,000 copies. Why? Aside from his accessible writing style, he makes great use of tables. If you’re looking to learn the Hi-Lo counting system, Wong uses tables that run through every statistical marker you need to memorise if you want to improve your expectation.
Stanford Wong: Basic Blackjack
Even though its title suggests you should read this book by Wong first, it’s actually a fantastic follow-up to Professional Blackjack. Why? Well, unlike its counterpart, this book shows you how to deal with unusual situations at the table. Much like a jazz master must learn the rules before they can break them, the same premise holds true for blackjack and this book. Once you’ve mastered the basics, Wong will teach you how to handle bonus bets such as 21+3, exotic rules and gimmicks that pro players have used for short-term gain in the past.
Arnold Snyder: Radical Blackjack
Penned by a Blackjack Hall of Fame inductee, Radical Blackjack lifts the veil on the life of a pro. Although it runs through many of the same facts, mathematical concepts and statistics that other top blackjack books do, it also gives a more practical perspective on playing at the highest levels. Indeed, as the title suggests, Snyder likes to flip the script. One of his most important moves was to simplify the deep-deck card counting system to make it easier to implement without having a noticeable effect on your bottom-line. Something else you’ll want to read this book for is Snyder’s personal insights into playing live. Offering advice on how to deal with nerves and paranoia as an advantage player, Radical Blackjack is a great way to learn how to improve your win rate without raising a red flag.
The Best Card Counting Books
Edward O. Thorp: Beat the Dealer
It’s the book that virtually started it all. There are now more than 1 million copies of Beat the Dealer in print. Although card counting as a discipline has advanced since Thorp’s work was published in 1966, the best strategies are still based on his point-based system. One note about this book is that it does contain some fairly dense mathematical charts. Additionally, much of Thorp’s counting strategy was based on single-deck games. Although you’ll struggle to find a single-deck game today, the system Thorp devised is the basis of card counting. In this sense, it’s one of the best blackjack books around because it gives you the core concepts you need to understand. Essentially, if you want to learn how to count cards, you have to start with Beat the Dealer.
Ken Uston: Million Dollar Blackjack
Another godfather of card counting, Ken Uston is regarded as one of the leading authorities on blackjack thanks to the advanced techniques he’s developed. If you’ve managed to master the basics of card counting as a strategy with the help of Thorp’s book, Uston’s advice in Million Dollar Blackjack will help you take your skills a few steps further. Uston SS (Strongest and Simplest) is the book’s standout count system and basically offers a more complex counting system. Put simply, there are fewer cards that cancel out each other when you compare Uston’s system to standard counting techniques. This naturally makes it more difficult – but, in turn, more accurate.
Maverick Sharp: Dynamic Blackjack
Coming in at a hefty 600 pages, this is one of the most in-depth of our recommended blackjack books. Indeed, if you started with this offering for Maverick Sharp, you may not have time to get to any of the other suggestions in this blackjack blue book. However, with size comes insights, Dynamic Blackjack is full of highly accurate facts. To create what’s known as the Dynamic Matrix Pro Strategy (DMPro), more than 1 trillion rounds of simulations were used. Essentially, this book is based on a mind-boggling amount of data that covers all areas of advanced counting. From Full and Condense Indices to various levels of penetration for one, six and eight-deck games, Dynamic Blackjack is like a printed version of a super computer.
Peter Griffin: The Theory of Blackjack
If you’ve learned all you think you need to know in terms of card counting for your own endeavours, Griffin’s book may come in useful. Much like the Theory of Poker by David Sklansky, this guide is less about practical side of card counting and more about the maths behind it. Indeed, just as Sklansky broke down the long-term expectation of popular bets in poker, The Theory of Blackjack looks at mechanics of card counting. Although there is some practical advice, this one is more for those that want to gain a deeper understanding of card counting as a betting system.
Blackjack Books with a Story
Ben Mezrich: Bringing Down the House
If you’ve seen the movie 21 featuring Kevin Spacey, this is the book on which it’s based. Although Ben Mezrich used his creative licence to inject some elements of fiction in Bringing Down the House, the main story is based on the infamous MIT blackjack team. Following the journey of Kevin Lewis (a character based on Jeff Ma), the book uncovers the world of card counting at the highest level. Although you won’t be taught the methods used by the MIT blackjack team, the book does describe the trials and tribulations of playing as part of a finely tuned, highly skilled collective. If you’re a fan of blackjack and want to get an insight into how it feels to be a professional card counter, Bringing Down the House is a fantastic read.
Glen Wiggy: 1536 Free Waters and Other Blackjack Endeavors
For a sideways glance at the world of card counting, Glen Wiggy’s 1536 Free Waters and Other Blackjack Endeavors is great. Although it outlines the common strategies that all pro players live by, this book also likes to subvert your expectations at every opportunity. Throughout the 2012 publication, Wiggy recounts stories from his time at the tables. In fact, this is the one of the reasons we’ve listed it among our top blackjack books. While the strategy advice is solid enough, the personal insights and tips on how to handle life on the casino floor is what you’ll really want to read this book for. Why “1536 free waters”? Well, every serious player knows not to drink alcohol when they play, so Wiggy has his own ways of staying lubricated.
Ian Andersen: Burning the Tables in Las Vegas
A follow-up to Turning the Tables on Las Vegas (which is also a top blackjack book), Burning the Table in Las Vegas is Ian Andersen’s personal account of how to win at the tables. Although this book is a strategy guide at heart, Andersen offers his advice in a more intimate way. In the second version of the book released in 2002, Andersen details his take on casino psychology. Recounting his own experiences and how he used them to shape his mental game, this section along is worth the cost of Burning the Tables in Las Vegas. Indeed, anyone can spew a few facts and put them into a logical order, but it takes a true expert with a penchant for words to accurately describe the mindset of a successful player.
One to Avoid
John Patrick: John Patrick’s Blackjack
Despite having the confidence to add his name to the title of his book, John Patrick missed the mark with this one. For those that watched any casino-focused videos back in the late nineties and the noughties, Patrick could often be seen dishing out his advice. However, in this book he advocates a super conservative approach where you should avoid splitting and doubling against strong dealer cards. In real terms, this strategy is fairly low risk and will save you a few bets. However, in the long-term, you’ll be missing out on bigger wins – and therefore losing money.
Read, Learn and Play
Becoming a skilled blackjack player takes time, effort and a little guidance from the pros. Ultimately, it will be your own experiences in the game that will shape your overall strategy. To really achieve success at the tables, you need to take these blackjack book reviews and use them as a springboard into some games online. After working your way through some of our recommended blackjack books, you should then make it your mission to check out the top online casinos and play.
Regardless of your skill level, we hope this blackjack blue book has given you a few new ways to profit in the casino world’s greatest card game.