Stanford Wong BJ21 Interview
The final interview of our Best Blackjack Sites series is with Stanford Wong, a notable author and the owner of BJ21 .
Stanford Wong runs one of the most influential blackjack communities in the world, a pay membership message board on BJ21.com. Stanford Wong has been inducted in the Blackjack Hall Of Fame and has written 7 books on blackjack and other casino games.
He even has his own blackjack technique widely known by blackjack advantage players as “wong” or “wonging,” which refers to watching the cards and waiting to play until it is advantageous for the player (a favorable count) before wagering.
Kendall: Stanford, we’ve learned that your main income during graduate school was playing blackjack, – How and where did you learn to play good enough to make a living from playing?
Stanford: I bought Ed Thorp’s Beat the Dealer when I was 20, and learned his 10-count. I started playing blackjack in Reno as soon as I turned 21. I never thought about making a living from blackjack; I considered it to be a source of income while I was a student.
Kendall: From your website –bj21.com– and your numerous books, it seems you have a very strong knowledge of not just blackjack, but the casino business in general as well as the sportsbook industry – how did you come to learn so much about them?
Stanford: I have an MBA. I have not learned much about the casino business or running a sports book, but what I did learn I understood. I understand how and why a casino interacts with its customers the way it does, but I do not know enough to run a casino.
Kendall: The green chip membership at BJ21.com is a pay membership section that has one of the most active advantage player communities on the internet. How did that come about?
Stanford: BJ21 was created in early 1996, shortly after message-board software was invented. I had been looking for a reason to start a website, but did not want to open something that was read only. The invention of message-board software is what I was looking for. BJ21 was one of the first message boards in existence.
Kendall: If you were to recommend a gambling activity for someone to make a living from as an advantage player, what would you recommend? Sports betting, poker or from casino game(s)?
Stanford: I would recommend making a living doing something else than trying to win money in casinos. I’d advise relegating advantage play to a part-time activity. If you can succeed as an advantage player, you probably can make a great contribution to society by doing something else — become a lawyer or doctor or professor or run a business. If you must take on casinos, your choice of game depends somewhat on your abilities. If you have the ability, poker is your best bet. Keep your eyes open, because tomorrow’s opportunities might be different from today’s.
Kendall: How much of the site’s articles, and updates are you involved in everyday?
Stanford: Visitors to BJ21.com create the content. I post only a few items a week. Many of BJ21’s green chippers spend much more time at the tables than I do, and their posts are where the value is.
Kendall: Do you continue playing and gambling aggressively, or have you stopped and concentrated more on your site and business?
Stanford: I still play, but I would not call it “aggressively.” I’d rather spend my time on the business.
Kendall: Have your kids, friends and/or family ever come asking you for help on gambling? Do you or would you approve of them going towards that path considering you’ve lived it?
Stanford: Nope. My family is not interested in putting in the effort to get an edge over casinos. I have never tried to encourage or discourage them. They make their own choices, and they have decided to make their marks in non-casino endeavors.
Kendall: Seeing that you hold quite the expertise on several areas, not just blackjack, which would you recommend as your favorite? And why?
Stanford: I enjoy analyzing a game, and writing it up. Any game. Probably my favorite, because it was the most difficult to analyze, is blackjack tournaments. Casino Tournament Strategy was more challenging to write than any of my other books.
Kendall: What has been your most memorable moment at the tables? And why?
Stanford: Lots of memorable moments. No one stands out as particularly special.
Kendall: Lastly, which of your books, or any other books around in the world for that matter, would you highly recommend to start off with? Let’s keep it within 3 books or resources…
Stanford: It depends on which game you want to learn. If blackjack, I’d recommend Professional Blackjack or any other good card-counting textbook. All the books we, meaning Pi Yee Press, publishes are among the best in their field. The Internet is a tremendous resource. I recommend trying green chip at BJ21.com.
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