Home Casino Blackjack Aces Series: Al Francesco

Blackjack Aces Series: Al Francesco

by Craig Edwards
0 comment
Blackjack Casino

At Joe Wager, the next installment of our Blackjack Prodigy Series is Al Francesco, affectionately known as the “Godfather of Blackjack” by his peers. 

Like several of our prodigies, Al Francesco turned out to be the assumed nickname or pseudonym for Frank Schipani, and in one of our other installments, Ken Uston said, “I owe everything to Al. He really might be the greatest blackjack player there ever was, and he’s also a real gentleman.”

So successful was Francesco that he was required to go under other aliases over the years, and he had been known as “Frank Salerno” and “Frank Fisano” at different times.

The Creator of “Team Blackjack”

Throughout our Joe Wager Blackjack Series, there have been many mentions of how profitable the team concept can be in Blackjack and despite much conjecture, it appears nowadays that Francesco was the brains behind the team ethos.

A Gambling Prodigy

Born in 1933, in Indiana, Al Francesco was drawn into gambling at card games during his early teens, and by his late teens, he was already honing his talent in the Greek Rummy games played in his neighborhood.

Before long, Francesco was earning the yearly equivalent of the average salary in the community.

Ed Thorp’s Influence

Ed Thorp‘s famous book, Beat the Dealer was published in 1963, and in that year, Francesco relocated to California. As we now know, the book documented Thorp’s ten-count system for Blackjack, providing mathematical proof that it worked.

After a period of trailing the concept at home, Francesco rolled the practice out in reality and it wasn’t long until he was being banned from the gambling establishments. The lack of opportunities meant that Francesco felt like he had little or no option but to cease operations, taking a forced hiatus for nearly seven years.

Lawrence Revere’s Book

Then upon reading Lawrence Revere’s Playing Blackjack as a Business in 1969, Schipani was back in business himself with a new method, but like before, the more casinos he beat, the less he was allowed to play, and he was a marked man within the industry.

The Big Player

Ken Uston took the opportunity in 1977 to publish The Big Player, where he detailed the methods they had used in the team play concept.

Francesco was never happy about this or that it meant Uston took much of the credit himself; however, the main part that left Francesco miffed was a signal for the Casinos to overhaul their security measures to counteract card counting. This inevitably meant making profit became far harder for Schipani and his teams, resulting in his high-functioning team falling apart!

The Blackjack Pioneer of Team Play

Last February, Frank Schipani passed away at the grand old age of 90, having enjoyed a long and happy retirement after stepping away from competitive action. His pioneering team play has been adopted by practically all the successful Blackjack teams since, such as the Czech team, the Greeks team and the Hyland team, to name a few of the better-known ones.

In later years, Schipani’s notoriety gained a new level after the publishing of Bringing Down the House in 2003, a non-fiction book based on those exploits.

The book led to the Hollywood movie “21” five years later, starring Kevin Spacey, Lawrence Fishburne and Jim Sturgess, and despite mixed reviews, it was a box office success, being the leading-selling film over the opening two weeks after its release.

Francesco Kept His Hand In

They say, “once a gambler always a gambler” and indeed that was very true for Schipani who even in retirement kept his hand in through different routes.

He facilitated private betting groups with seed money and strategy throughout the card rooms of California and was always interested in any data-driven edge he could utilize, as well as being an avid horse racing fan.

The Frank Schipani Legacy

Frank Schipani –aka Al Francesco– is undoubtedly the “Godfather of Blackjack” and the brains behind the team concept that is still beating the game up and down America.

Those methods have been used by all the other high-profile teams since and have brought Schipani notoriety and respect through the non-fiction Hollywood film “21” in 2008, a huge box office success.

author avatar
Craig Edwards
Craig Edwards, an online tipster in golf and snooker for over four years, boasts a track record of 7800 bets with a 28% return on investment. A snooker professional from 1988 to 1996, he was once a single-figure handicap golfer. Achieving the 282nd position in the WSOP MAIN EVENT in 2007, Craig possesses a unique insight into the psychological shifts of professional sportsmen, anticipating their mindset week by week.

You may also like

JoeWager is your leading source for trending topics relevant to offshore gamblers, including betting resources, sports & casino guides, entertainment topics, politics and more.

Editors' Picks

Latest Articles

Copyright 2023 – All Right Reserved.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More