The old saying goes, “Practice makes perfect,” but studying before you get into the practice is also an excellent choice. Maybe the best way is to combine the two. We rely on the internet a lot these days to provide us with information. Sometimes though, it’s better to go old-school analog and read books.
Same goes for blackjack. There are a lot of options to pick from — anything from online courses to personal advisers, but the cheapest and most effective way to get to the core of the game is to study the vast literature on the matter. It may sound tedious, but blackjack is a complex game, and there isn’t an easy way of mastering it.
Yes, the rules are simple, and the etiquette is interesting. However, to really get to the point where your odds increase is not an easy task. Blackjack is not just pure luck. Your decisions make a difference, and you should understand the nature of the game. That is the only way to be a true player.
We can go on and on about strategies and card-counting systems, but you should be wise and consult some of the most prominent experts on the game. We made a list of books that cover all there is to know about blackjack. The authors are badass know-it-alls of the game, and if someone can teach about the game, it’s them.
So let’s get going! Oh yeah, this is not a top-list — it’s a presentation. All the books are worth checking out, and you can do so in any order you like.
Beat the Dealer by Edward E. Thorp
Ok, it’s not a top-list, but the “father of card counting” deserves to be the first. In a way, this handbook started it all. Thorp had a Ph.D. in maths and approached the game from the scientific side. This book explains what card counting is and why it works while offering some strategies on how to play. The book is old, and some aspects of it may be outdated, but it is still essential for everyone who wants to know more about blackjack. Every other author on this list and beyond has been influenced by this classic.
Blackjack for Blood by Bryce Carlson
The famous “Card Counter’s Bible” is an excellent read because it goes all practical. Carlson does not dwell into maths too much. He instead tries to explain the basic strategy in a way that everyone can understand. So if you want to learn how to count cards, this really is your holy book. Both beginners and experienced players can benefit a lot from Carlson’s work. He thoroughly explains the Omega II system for counting cards but also discusses the ways to hide your efforts for advantage play. It’s a pretty neat little handbook; you should definitely check it out.
Blackbelt in Blackjack by Arnold Snyder
The analogy to martial arts is obvious, and it’s a good one. This book is a cut to the chase, no BS gem that every player goes back to throughout their careers. Snyder explains simple yet effective card counting techniques, such as Zen, Hi-Lo, Red 7, and more. There is also a lot about shuffle tracking and team play. The material is not too scientific and numeric, but more of a practical nature, so that the reader could follow it effortlessly. Don’t pass on this one because it is awesome for players of all levels.
The Big Book of Blackjack by Arnold Snyder
Another excellent study by Arnold Snyder offers insight into the game from his 25 years of experience at the table. It’s an encyclopedia of the game divided into 27 chapters, each better than the next. From the introduction to the game to advanced strategies, this one has it all. Snyder included a bit of the game history too, so it’s an easy read. His focus on winning tactics is combined with an effort to remind us that the most important part of playing is to have fun.
Professional Blackjack by Stanford Wong
A masterpiece written by the blackjack guru is as relevant today as it was in 1975 when it was published. It’s not a beginners guide, but it is a must-read at a certain point on any gambler’s path. Wong explains some card counting strategies and gives an index of numerous rule variations. But most importantly, he covers the topic of how to create an advantage and not get thrown out of the casino. In the end, he provides charts filled with instrumental statistical data, presented in such an exciting fashion that you keep going back to it.
Blackjack Secrets by Stanford Wong
Mr. Blackjack Hall of Fame is an expert and an excellent writer, so all of his books are a real pleasure to read. This one covers it all and can be beneficial to players of all levels of knowledge and experience. Wong explains the Hi-Lo system in great detail and gives precious advice on how to practice effectively. Basically, with Wong, you can’t go wrong. For rookies, Basic Blackjack from this author should be the first on their reading list.
Million Dollar Blackjack by Ken Uston
Apart from explaining his own techniques for counting cards, Uston writes a lot about the life of a blackjack player. He describes many personal anecdotes, and his life was an adventurous roller coaster. He managed to earn millions in Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos and was then banned from them. In a high-profile lawsuit, he defended the player’s right to count cards and won. That is why the casinos increased the number of decks in the game and changed the rules. To this day, that is arguably the most popular book about blackjack.
Knock-Out Blackjack by Ken Fuchs and Olaf Ventura
The authors explain their counting system, calling it the easiest there is. That may not be entirely true, but the way they present it is straightforward and understandable. Ventura and Fuchs designed a system that is easy to use, and though it is not the most productive one, it still makes an excellent starting point in card counting.
Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich
So this one is probably not the most useful on the list, but it’s a fun read, and it deals with blackjack. The story of the MIT blackjack team is essentially a work of fiction, and the events may not be described exactly the way they happened. However, story-telling is really captivating, and this one may be a nice break from numbers and counting.
We will stop at ten titles, but there are many more that deserve your attention. Once you have made your way through this list, maybe you can look up Blackjack Blueprint by Rick “Night Train” Blaine, Play Blackjack like the Pros by Kevin Blackwood, Blackjack Attack by Don Schlesinger, etc. The more you research, the better you can be at the table. Keep reading and keep playing!