Stanford Wong is the pseudonym of the world-famous gambling
author and former professional gambler. He is best known for his
book "Professional Blackjack," which was first published in 1975 and
is still in print. Wong's computer program "Blackjack Analyzer,"
initially created for personal use, was one of the first
commercially available blackjack odds analyzer software programs.
While his friends were drawing lines and marking their x's and o's,
he was figuring out the optimal strategy. He figured out where to
mark his X if he played first. If he played second, he would figure
out where to mark his "O" as a function of where his opponent placed
an X. It's said that he never lost a game of tic tac toe.
Wong began making a living playing blackjack in 1976 while teaching
finance courses at San Francisco State University and getting his
Ph.D in Finance from Stanford U. in California. Not content with the
teaching life, Wong agreed to be paid a salary of $1 for his last
term of teaching at the school in order to not attend faculty
meetings and to pursue his gambling career.
Wong also authored the controversial book, "Wong on Dice," which
supposedly shows how the game of Craps can be beaten through
"controlled dice throwing."
Wong maintains a blackjack website which provides, among other
information, the newsletter "Current Blackjack News", with
information about rules and conditions of blackjack games in casinos
in the United States and some other countries. He has reviewed or
acted as a consultant for some of the world's leading blackjack
writers. Wong no longer plays blackjack professionally.
As mentioned, the name "Stanford Wong" is a pseudonym. His first
choice for a pen name was "Nevada Smith," but that name had been
taken. "Stanford Wong" was selected by a friend in the PhD program
by taking his alma mater as his first name and an Asian last name to
provide the "mystique of the Orient". Wong lives in La Jolla, CA. He
has appeared on TV many times as a blackjack tournament contestant
or as a gambling expert. He is also one of only twelve members of
the Blackjack Hall of Fame.
Wong himself admits that games and
puzzles have always fascinated him. He enjoys figuring out
solutions to complex
problems, and enjoys
writing out those solutions. When he was about six years old, he
learned the rules for tic tac toe.
When Wong was about twelve he started unlocking the secrets of
blackjack. He used an office calculator (personal computers did not
exist then) to work out the expectations - he removed the dealer's
up card and two player cards, and figured out what the player's
expectation was for standing, hitting, or doubling down. As luck
would have it (yes, luck always factors in to almost anything
related to gambling), Dr. Edward Thorp beat him to the punch with
his classic, groundbreaking book "Beat the Dealer," the first book
on card counting.
Blackjack is a dynamic game and the rules and variations keep
changing. In that sense, there is always need for a new book. When
Thorp wrote his book, blackjack was dealt from a single deck, and
about the only rule variation was whether the dealer stood or hit on
soft seventeen. Subsequently, 4-deck blackjack came to Las Vegas and
it was like a whole new game. Wong realized that there was a need
for a 4-deck strategy and it did not exist in any of the blackjack
books available at the time, so he worked out his own numbers on
computers at college, along with "surrender" numbers, which were
also not available in books at that time. Thirteen years after
Thorp's book appeared, Wong published his first blackjack book and
several books have followed.
Wong went out to apply the same analytical skills to video poker,
and wrote software analyzing it and then a book explaining the
strategy generated by the software. He also analyzed pai gow poker
to come up with the optimal strategy for dividing a seven-card hand
into two hands of five cards and two cards, and wrote a book on that
game. Along the way he played many casino tournaments, testing out
his strategies by playing against professionals. And a few years
ago, Wong turned his efforts to the gave of craps and wrote a book
explaining how to build the necessary skill at tossing dice, and how
to apply that skill in a casino, including what bets to make.