Arguably the greatest blackjack player in history, Al Francesco has made his name as the Michael Jordan of the Blackjack table. Due to his renowned success, Al has had to go by a number of different aliases in order to still play his favorite game at casinos were he’s been banned. Throughout his storied career he went by Frank Fisano, Frank Schipani, Frank Salerno and after years of being a successful player, people started calling him “The Godfather of Blackjack.”
Al Francesco grew up in the World War II era during his childhood in Gary, Indiana. He quickly learned his exceptional skill and talent at various card games like Greek Rummy. After moving to California in 1963, Al’s life took a sudden change for the better after reading a book called “Beat the Dealer” by Edward O. Thorp. About a year after that, Al was already a top study of the original Ten Count system used to count cards in Blackjack and consequently was banned from a growing number of casinos. As a result, Al eventually left behind blackjack for a few years, as he struggled to find people who would let him play. His hiatus lasted until he read about a new card counting system, called the Advanced Point Count System.
Once again though Al ran into trouble once he started winning big and consistently. Various casinos stopped taking his business and banned him from the premise. Francesco had to come up with a better way of playing blackjack if he was going to continue making money from it. While playing blackjack with his brother, a fellow card counter, in Lake Tahoe, Al discovered the secret to how to successfully count cards without getting caught. He would use his brother to form a team, and his brother would do most of the card counting, and alert Al to when the most opportune time was to place a large wager. So Al would seemingly come up to the table in the middle of a game and place a large wager down and win, then walk away like he just won a lucky hand.
From there Al went on to form a professional team of card counters that would go around to various casinos and clean up shop using their new teamwork technique of card counting. Unfortunately for Francesco, one of his teams that he formed went on to write a book in 1977 called, “The Big Player” which sold-out Al and all his secrets, making it impossible for him to find a blackjack game anywhere.
To this day Al is still considered the greatest and most innovative blackjack player in history. He was the founder of the MIT group that made millions from counting cards, which later was the inspiration for a Hollywood movie. Even though some consider what Al did to be cheating, others say that he simply understood the game better than anyone else, and helped the gaming industry by identifying the kinds of loop holes in blackjack and other card games that players could potentially take advantage of.