Al Francesco is one of the original seven members admitted to the Blackjack Hall of Fame and is one of the most well-known and respected players in blackjack history. He is known not only for his rampant success as a player, but also for popularizing team play and introducing blackjack legend Ken Uston to the game of blackjack and card counting.
Francesco began playing gambling card games when he was 19 years old. He started out playing Rummy. However, after reading Thorp’s book, Beat the Dealer, Francesco decided to try his luck at card counting. He studied hard and learned Thorp’s Ten Count System front and back. He put his card counting skills to the test and began to win big in live casinos.
When Al Francesco first started out, most casinos offered single deck games. He took a break from the game because he was being hassled and was banned from a number of casinos. When he returned a few years later to casino gambling many casinos had introduced 4-deck games, making Francesco’s card counting method of choice obsolete. He read Lawrence Revere‘s Playing Blackjack as a Business and familiarized himself with the Advanced Point Count system. However, after only a short time back at the casino Francesco was being hassled by casino management once again.
In order to prevent the hassle and trouble he was getting from casino management, Al Francesco developed the concept of blackjack team play in the early 1970s. His team style was known as the “Big Player” style, in which one player would nonchalantly make big bets when the count was high. He said his method could double a team’s bankroll within 45 minutes. He and his team were incredibly successful and inspired other infamous card counting teams throughout history including the Hyland Team, the Greeks, the Czech team and the MIT team.