Blackjack History – Deaths


Event DateEvent Name

On this day in 1851, in Oregon City, eight men playing cards are killed by lightning. [ 1938 Sucker's Progress: An Informal History of Gambling in America ]


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 ]


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.


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.  


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. - (


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.


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. [Thackery Gambling Secrets of Nick the Greek]


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)


On this day in 1977, Lawrence Revere died.  Revere is best known for his ground breaking book Playing Blackjack as a Business.  Revere was inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2005.


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


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. 


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


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


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.  Inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2003.


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


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


On this day in 1992, Jess Marcum (originally Marcovitch) died at the age of 72.  Many believe that Marcum’s counting method was the first point count system used to gain an advantage in blackjack.


On this day in 1994, Paul Keen died.  Keen was a well respected Las Vegas card counter and former Las Vegas reporter for Arnold Snyder’s Blackjack Forum.


On this day in 1995, William F. Rickenbacker died.  Rickenbacker (son of Edward Rickenbacker) bankrolled Edward Thorp's first card counting test in Las Vegas and Reno in 1962.


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.


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


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).


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


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 2003.


On this day in 1998, Stu Ungar tragically died.   An expert poker and gin rummy player, Stu Ungar was also an accomplished blackjack card counter.


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.


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.


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. 


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


On this day in 2004, Edward Gordon (aka D. Howard Mitchell) died.  Gordon was author of the DHM card counting systems.


On this day in 2005, Australian media tycoon and billionaire Kerry Packer died.  Packer won (and lost) tens of millions of dollars at blackjack and held the title of the world's biggest gambler in the 1990s. [ Wikipedia ]


On this day in 2006, Keith Taft died.  Taft developed the first hidden toe-operated blackjack computer and was a major influence on the world of professional blackjack.  Inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2004. 


On this day in 2007, Big Chuck Gorson died.  Charles Gorson was a regular on the blackjack tournament scene of the time and participated on the first episode of the Ultimate Blackjack Tour on CBS.


On this day in 2009, Bob Stupak died.  Stupak, owner of the old Vegas World casino, is credited for introducing Double Exposure blackjack to Las Vegas.


On this day in 2011, Howard Grossman passed away.  He was a former professional card counter for many years who turned casino consultant and table games inventor, including the game Super Fun 21.


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.


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.


On this day in 2012, the Silver Fox died.  Ralph Stricker was a blackjack instructor and developer of the Silver Fox Blackjack SystemDon Schlesinger called him "The Elder Statesman of Blackjack".


On this day in 2013, John Allen died.  A valuable member and prolific poster of the community, he became the plaintiff in the successful legal effort to thwart the cheating capabilities of the MindPlay device.  We knew him as "adhoc".


On this day in 2015, Lance Humble died. Humble co-authored the book, The World's Greatest Blackjack Book and developed the Hi-Opt I and Hi-Opt II card counting systems.


On this day in 2016, gambling publishing pioneer Stanley Sludikoff (aka Stanley Roberts) died. Sludikoff published Gambling Times and Win Magazine between 1977 and 1993.  He was also the author of several blackjack books.


On this day in 2016, Richard Arnold Epstein died.  Epstein was the author of the book The Theory of Gambling and Statistical Logic which included an exhaustive section on blackjack theory and statistics.


On this day in 2017, Dan Gordon died.  The blackjack world knows him as Stuart Perry, the author of the book Las Vegas Blackjack Diary.


On this day in 2018, gambling book publisher and author John Gollehon died.  Gollehon authored over two dozen gambling titles including the book All About Blackjack.


On this day in 1930, James McDermott died.   He was one of the  Four Horsemen of Aberdeen and a 2008 member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame


On this day in 2019, Harvey Dubner died.  Dubner is credited as the first person to publish a paper on the Hi-Lo count, which is used by many blackjack card counters today.


On this day in 2019, Jake Smallwood died.  Jake was an expert shuffle tracker, author and frequent contributor to Blackjack Forum magazine.

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