Blackjack Team Play: When It Appeared and How It Worked

Blackjack casino game always attracted many gamblers thanks to its mathematical nature. What does it mean? It means that blackjack is beatable when you perfectly know the strategies to beat it, and one of such strategies had become widely known and used thanks to the guru of blackjack, the member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame and the real blackjack expert of 1970s - Al Francesco.

This strategy is called to be blackjack team play, and it was invented by Al Francesco when he looked for the perfect system which would let him beating blackjack for sure. Such a strategy is proven to be really workable today, and it was used by many famous blackjack teams afterwards, such as:

  • Ken Uston's blackjack team
  • Tommy Hyland's blackjack team
  • MIT blackjack team


Al Francesco looked for the perfect blackjack strategy to beat casinos, and it took 8 years for him to find it: in 1971 the strategy of Big Player came to Francesco's mind when he gambled in a casino together with his brother.

His brother was a card counter too, and he made small bets of $1 - $5 at the blackjack table when Al Francesco just stayed at the table and did not take part in the game. When he thought the count must be high, Al Francesco bet $100 and continued doing this while the count was good enough for him. The pit boss of that casino offered him a dinner after Al finished his game and told he was a player they always wanted to see in their casino.

The idea of team play was born in such a way: Al understood that some people could have more chances for winning if they gambled as a team. Blackjack became a really good business then.

How it Works

Blackjack team play works in the following way: each of team members has its own role and gambles according to the plan. Card counting is used for winning blackjack (usually, gamblers use Hi-Lo system for counting).

The roles of blackjack team members are the following:

  • Back-Spotter: this person does not sit at blackjack table at all. S/he stands at the table and count cards in such a way; when the count is good enough for making bets s/he signals for a bettor.
  • Spotter: this person sits at blackjack table, gambles and counts cards; s/he usually does not make big bets and signals for a bettor when a shoe is hot for making a big bet.
  • Gorilla: this person does not count cards; s/he waits for a signal from spotters, comes to the table (usually s/he pretends being very rich and drunk man or woman), makes a big bet, wins it and leaves the table.
  • Big Player: this person plays the main role in the team; s/he is known by casinos as a high-roller who is always ready to play for big money. A big player is also a counter but s/he also makes shuffle tracking to increase a house advantage. S/he waits for a signal from a back-spotter or a spotter and joins the game for winning big money.

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