Keith Taft

Keith Taft is, perhaps, one of the most inventive figures among the legends of Blackjack. He wasn't a mathematician or a professional gambler as were many of his peers. In fact, Taft had difficulty figuring out strategies for himself. His genius, fortunately for him and his associates, was in applying his skill at electronics toward finding ways to increase his advantage in the game.

Taft began his career in the world of Blackjack in 1969 when he visited Reno, Nevada. Entranced by the complexities of the game, he soon set to work creating a device that could alter the odds in his favor. The result was "George". George was a wearable computer, though it weighed in at a hefty 15 pounds, that could calculate odds. Using the device, Taft could ascertain the best times to increase his bet or to hold off. The system worked brilliantly and he soon found himself working with fellow Blackjack legend Ken Uston.

Uston was looking for a way to bring up the win rate of his team and Taft's skills and devices proved to be just the thing. After Taft joined Uston's Blackjack team, they enjoyed a win rate approaching 80% at times. The devices they employed included the aforementioned wearable computers and cameras which were able to photograph the card the dealer held in the hole. This information, of course, could nearly ensure that the player bet in the most advantageous fashion possible.

Taft's team's rather obvious tendency to beat the house soon drew attention. They were eventually found out by the casino after being strip-searched. Many of the members of the team were wearing one and, in some cases, several of Taft's devices which nearly landed them in sticky legal territory. Though his devices were unseen by legal authorities previous to the team being caught out, there were laws against the use of cheating devices of any kind.

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The FBI, upon investigating, found that the devices were not illegal and opted to not press charges. It is largely due to Taft and his team's incredible success, however, that such devices are prohibited in casinos. Many of the devices used by the team are now illegal.

Taft's devices are still displayed in museums, a testament to their innovative nature and the skill of their designer. His device's calculations formed the basis of the most basic Blackjack strategies. Such strategies can help increase the winnings of any player and require no counting to implement.

Taft spent nearly 30 years developing devices to help increase player's advantage against the house. His formal training included a bachelor's in music and a master's in physics but he is most well-known for his work in the gambling field.

Taft's name can be found among those inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame. His induction took place in 2003. Taft died in 2006. Though most of his work was dedicated to winning at Blackjack, his work comprises devices and strategies for a wide range of casino games.