Consistently winning at the casino is no easy feat. Every game on the floor features a house edge that will, statistically, ensure that the casino comes out on top over the long run. However, some games feature a way to sway the odds. In most cases, this sway just makes the house edge slightly lower, but, in the case of blackjack, it can effectively flip the script and give the player a slim advantage. The difficulty in successfully utilizing a card counting strategy is tremendous, as players must successfully combine the mathematical count with the ability to fool casino officials into thinking that nothing out of the ordinary is occurring. Put simply, it takes a great gambler to become a successful card counter, and, in the case of Tommy Hyland, it takes one of the world’s best. Let’s take a closer look at the so-called ‘King’ of Card Counters, the next player on our list of the world’s greatest gamblers.
Hyland’s gambling career started in 1979, when he read a book called Playing Blackjack as a Business. Within a few months, he and his roommate started making regular trips to Atlantic City, honing their skills in the art of card counting. After a couple months of practice, he met two other card counters and upped the stakes, playing with a $16,000 combined bankroll. After another month of play, Hyland and his associates had turned the $16,000 investment into $60,000 in winnings. In December 1979, he amplified these winnings when casinos allowed known card counters to play freely for two weeks, starting his career as one of the world’s most well-known counters.
Eventually, Hyland’s original team split up, leaving the gambler to train new associates in the art of card counting. When the news got out about the card counting clinic, Hyland’s services grew in demand. At the height of its popularity, he estimated as many as 40 people on his gambling team. As a result of the size, Hyland’s team grew unorganized, eventually losing cash along the way. Within weeks, his gambling team disbanded once again, leaving the founding member to search out another group of teammates.
In 1982, Hyland took his game to Las Vegas and began playing more advanced strategies, including shuffle tracking. During this period, his team once again grew to include dozens of players, but, this time, they hailed from places around the globe. For eight years, the group would look for favorable games and train new players on how to beat these games. As the rules changed to combat card counting, Hyland’s strategies were forced to evolve. Today, he and his teammates rarely meet in person. Instead, they simply pool funds and split profits from time-to-time.
The list of the world’s greatest gamblers in now one step closer to completion. Who will follow the ‘King’ of Card Counting on the way to gambling’s most exclusive club? Which games will he or she play to attain the honor? Check back next time to find out the next member of the world’s greatest gamblers!