Blackjack History – Deaths

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Event DateEvent Name
07-08-1851

On this day in 1851, in Oregon City, eight men playing cards are killed by lightning.

06-15-1853

On this day in 1853, in Austin, Texas, wealthy planters Major Danielson and Old Man Morgan begin a marathon poker session, lasting until their deaths in 1872. By their wills, their eldest sons continue another 5 years until one goes crazy and the other is killed by a train.  [ From the book Sucker's Progress, 1938 ]

08-02-1876

On this day in 1876, in Deadwood, South Dakota, James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok, playing poker in Carl Mann's saloon, is shot dead by Jack "Crooked Nose" McCall, for no apparent reason. Hickok reportedly held a pair of Aces and a pair of eights, which becomes known as the Dead Man's Hand.

09-08-1879

On this day in 1879, Eleanore Dumont (aka Madame Mustache) died.  She is credited as being the first known professional twenty-one player in history - spanning a gambling career of almost 30 years in the gambling dens of the old West.  

11-04-1928

On this day in 1928, Arnold Rothstein is shot and killed in the Park Central Hotel in New York City, owing $333,000 on a poker game. - (History.com)

06-20-1947

On this day in 1947, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, gangster, operator of the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, is shot dead in Beverly Hills, California.

12-25-1966

On this day in 1966, Nicholas Andrea Dandolos died.  He become known as Nick the Greek - a professional gambler and high roller from Crete.  In 1979, he would become a charter inductee of the Poker Hall of Fame.

04-05-1976

On this day in 1976, Howard Hughes died.  Hughes had always wanted to change the image of Las Vegas to something more glamorous.  Hughes wrote in a memo, "I like to think of Las Vegas in terms of a well-dressed man in a dinner jacket and a beautifully jeweled and furred female getting out of an expensive car." - (Wikipedia)

04-23-1977

On this day in 1977, Lawrence Revere died.  Revere is best known for his ground breaking book Playing Blackjack as a Business.

08-17-1977

On this day in 1977, Las Vegas legend Elvis Presley dies in Memphis.  Elvis would perform over 600 sold-out shows in Las Vegas.

11-21-1980

On this day in 1980, the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino (now Bally's) had a major fire.  The fire killed 85 people and it remains the worst disaster in Nevada history. 

02-10-1981

On this day in 1981, an arson fire broke out at the Las Vegas Hilton on the 8th floor.  Eight people would die.

07-07-1985

On this day in 1985, John Scarne died.  Scarne was once considered the World's Foremost Gambling Authority.

09-17-1987

On this day in 1987, Ken Uston died.  Uston was a professional player and best known for his books The Big Player and Million Dollar Blackjack.

11-06-1987

On this day in 1987, John Luckman died after a long illness.  He, with his late wife Edna, founded the Gambler's Book Shop in Las Vegas in 1964.  The Luckmans published more than 130 books on gambling.

05-16-1990

On this day in 1990, Rat Pack member Sammy Davis Jr. dies.

10-22-1994

On the day in 1994, Paul Keen died.  Keen was a well respected Las Vegas card counter. [ Encyclopedia of Casino Twenty-One ]

12-25-1995

On this day in 1995, Dean Martin died of lung cancer.  For three decades, Martin was among one of the most popular acts in Las Vegas.

09-07-1996

On this day in 1996, rapper Tupac Shakur was shot multiple times and died in Las Vegas.

11-15-1996

On this day in 1996, John Leib died.  Leib is known for what is coined the "Leib Criterion" - an alternative bet sizing criterion (as opposed to Kelly).

05-14-1998

On this day in 1998, Frank Sinatra died of a heart attack.  Sinatra became one of Las Vegas' best known performers as part of the Rat Pack

10-18-1998

On this day in 1998, Peter Griffin died.  Griffin was the author of the classic book, Theory of Blackjack and was one of the great theoretical pioneers of the game.  Inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2002.

09-04-2000

On this day in 2000, Julian Braun died.  Braun was the author of the ground-breaking book How to Play Winning Blackjack and was a major influence in the development of computer proven blackjack systems. Inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2005.

06-05-2001

On this day in 2001, John Gwynn Jr. died.  Gwynn authored numerous papers on gambling theory and devoted many hours of his life analyzing and testing blackjack systems and strategies for publications like Blackjack Forum.

06-05-2001

On this day in 2001, Allan Wilson died.  Author of the classic book The Casino Gambler's Guide he was one of the early computer analysts of blackjack. 

12-03-2002

On this day in 2002, Edna Luckman passed away.  She, with her late husband John, founded the Gambler's Book Shop in Las Vegas in 1964.  The Luckmans published more than 130 books on gambling.

08-28-2006

On this day in 2006, Keith Taft died.  Taft was a major influence on the world of professional blackjack. A 2004 member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame

05-18-2011

On this day in 2011, Robert Mike Turner died. We know him as "Bootlegger" and the author of the book Bootlegger's 200 Proof Blackjack.

05-07-2012

On this day in 2012, Robert Michael Canjar died.  We know him as "MathProf", a well respected and regular contributor to many blackjack and advantage play websites.