A Quick Rundown on the People in the Blackjack Hall of Fame

From it’s inception in 2003, the Blackjack Hall of Fame has inducted a total of 11 members for their outstanding accomplishments, both at the tables and away from them.

Edward O. Thorp, one of the original Blackjack Hall of Fame members, was a mathematician and scholar, known as the Father of Card Counting by professional players and the general populous alike. His Ten Count system was first introduced to the world in his 1962 book, “Beat the Dealer”, which was the very first winning blackjack system ever published, not to mention that it was also the first mathematician publication to beat any casino-style gambling game. Every card counting system available today is a derivative of Thorp’s Ten Count system.

Ken Uston, an original inductee, passed away in 1987, years before the Blackjack Hall of Fame was even a thought. Uston brought the secrets of the big card counting teams mainstream with his book, “The Big Player”, creating a commotion throughout the gaming industry. After his landmark publication, card counting teams began to generate across the globe.

The inventor of blackjacks’ “team play” is one of the original members of the Hall of Fame- Al Francesca. Francesca was the driving force and mastermind behind Ken Uston and his book, “The Big Player”.

Blackjack researchers have been using the mathematical methods of Peter Griffin, as he was the first to break down any card counting system into two points-the Betting Correlation (BC) and the Playing Efficiency (PE). His book, “The Theory of Blackjack”, along with his many other mathematical papers made him an easy pick for the original Blackjack Hall of Fame lineup.

Stanford Wong, often referred to as the “Godfather of Blackjack”, was an original inductee into the Hall of Fame. The term “wonging” is related to his proven techniques of card counting across the globe. Wong was one of the first to beat the continuous shuffle machines of Las Vegas before they were removed and updated.

Yet another original member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame, Arnold Snyder, was inducted for first to publish what is now common knowledge amongst professional blackjack players; the importance of penetration. Although he has written many publications on the topic of blackjack, Snyder refrains from publishing much of what he has learned to allow current players the opportunities to play and win.

While still in college, Tommy Hyland began playing professional blackjack, and has been for over 25 years. He is the leading man in the longest running and most successful blackjack team in the entire world. Adored by his peers and despised by casino owners, Tommy has made his mark in the blackjack world and is an original inductee into the Hall of Fame.

2004 and the Blackjack Ball brought Keith Taft to the Hall of Fame, complete with a photo album featuring a variety of gadgets and such that he invented to aid in the casino beating process, with his primary focus always on blackjack. Taft credits his son, Marty, for the two were an unbeatable team since Marty was a teenager.

Max Rubin is the author of “Comp City”, a publication aimed at beating the Blackjack tables of Las Vegas even without mastering the art of counting cards. Rubin is the other Hall of Fame’s inductee for 2004.

The 2005 Blackjack Ball brought with it two new inductees into the Blackjack Hall of Fame, one being Julian Brown, an IBM computer programmer became captivated with the mathematics involved in blackjack. In the 1960’s Brown wrote to Edward O. Thorp and requested a copy of the blackjack computer program. Since Brown had access to some of the fastest computers available, he worked diligently to produce an improved program, resulting in the creation of Hi-Opt blackjack and Hi-Lo strategies. Most of today’s blackjack experts have built upon the work of Julian Brown.

2005’s second inductee is none other that Lawrence Revere, a card shark and hustler who created a series of amazingly simple, color coded charts and such so that anyone could understand. Revere is considered to be the man who brought blackjack to the average player.

The professional hole-carder’s bible, “Beyond Counting”, was authored by none other than James Grosjean, thus sealing his fate as the 2006 Blackjack Hall of Fame inductee. Although every tactic used by Grosjean was legal at the time, he was ridiculed and arrested for his practices. In turn, he sued Caesars and Imperial Palace for wrongful arrest, as well as the Griffin Detective Agency, forcing them into bankruptcy, paving the way to stop libeling professional gamblers.

Legal Thriller Author Explores Identity Theft – You Don’t Have to be a Victim

Your luck doesn’t have to be so bad as the California man, who, in a series of unrelated events, was hit by a car on Sunday, mugged on Monday, and shot on Tuesday. But, if you lose your identity to a con man, your foul luck level could be close.

With a con man-launched barrage, stolen identities are rising at a rate of up to 10,000,000 per year, creating a problem that is now approaching crisis proportions.

If we were a fire-eating, Bible-thumping preacher, we would deliver our sermon something like quoting from a legal thriller, something like this:

Con men everywhere are taking rifle-shot focus on a very specific target: your social security number. (Your bank account number would be nice too. That’s secondary targeting.) Once obtaining this they are finding it a cake-walk to taking over your paper identity, and, thus, opening up a free-flowing channel to all of your financial assets.

They count on–and are successfully cashing in on–a seemingly human axiom: a one-sided exercise in the “Law of Inertia.” So, you must surmount this inertia, conquer it, if it exists.

As never before, if you do not wish to provide the con man a feeding tube into your bank account, you must be highly selective about the handling of your financial affairs. All of them. The time is now.

How?

Here are a few suggestions:

1. When ordering over the internet remember that URLs that begin with “http” are not secure sites. The sites that begin with “https” are. First step is to foil hackers as best you can.

2. Verify all email and telephone offers by checking them out directly through a customer service number you locate, yourself, in your phone book, then follow through with a phone call, only one you initiate. If you can’t find a phone number there, call the reference desk of your public library and you will probably have the requested number in minutes.

3. If you suspect an obvious, serious scam–many of which these days read like a legal thriller–don’t hesitate, looking for a cause dujour. Contact the FBI or your State Attorney General’s office. Do it with cat-quick speed. Famed French World War II hero and President, Charles DeGaulle, had a very forgettable message to leave from his death bed. His last words were, “It hurts.” This is the same near-death way you’d feel if, no matter what you’d accomplished in life, a con man cleaned you of your identity.

4. Never reship any product on behalf of a stranger in a foreign country.. If you don’t know the contents, which could be stolen goods, you might be unwittingly participating in a crime. You don’t want to become a self-indulgent, navel-gazing victim.

5. Never respond to email or phone calls asking you to verify anything. These requests are most often placed by the con man under the guise of being a bank, credit card company, retail store, government agency official–any manner of subterfuge. It’s always best to check out the “source” represented, independently of any reference numbers or call-back data provided by the inquirer. You don’t have to be a peripheral visionary to see these scams coming. They’re frontal. They’re clear. Act accordingly.

6. Ignore all “free credit report” offers you receive, either by phone or over the internet. Big majority of these are scams.
Your cooperation would be like singing along at the opera.

7. “Free” gift offers should be avoided. Unless they are entirely free. If asked to “pay only shipping and handling charges,” look out. This is a big red light.

8. Pyramid schemes and email chain letters. The answer to this should be obvious. Ignore, ignore, ignore. Never respond to these. The con man’s eerie vulgarity, his frothing-at-the-mouth greed, rears its ugly head pronouncedly on this one.

9. Never enter your social security number on a resume, one you are asked to send via email by anyone with whom you are not totally familiar. Some scam-fighters will say, simply enter 000-00-0000, but pause should be exercised before even doing this. If you wish to save yourself from becoming a drooling head-banger, by all means do not let your social security number fall into the hands of a con man.

10. Gift or order confirmations. These, from any vendor you have not contacted. Usually they are “phishing” expeditions, designed only to reel in personal information from you.

These are some of the cautionary high points. Be totally aware that the identity theft threat is now of epidemic proportions. and, sadly, it appears that–like all epidemics–the time-honored “Law of Averages” is about the only governor to dictate the length of time before it gets to you. When it finally hits, the jolt will be like unwittingly sticking your hand into a sealed box of scorpions.

The Most Picturesque Place in Los Angeles Is the “Hollywood Walk of Fame”

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Los Angeles is primarily associated with Hollywood, and Hollywood – with the stars, so it’s not surprising that the Hollywood Walk of Fame is rightly considered the most popular tourist spot of the city. Annually more than 10 million tourists walk along on those stars, delighted and thrilled to be reading the names of idols, immortalized in stone slabs of the sidewalk for the glory of the entertainment industry. As well as it is necessary any sight “with a name”, at the Alley of stars – the long, various and rather interesting history, continuing to be created till this day: new “stars” are put here approximately twice a month.

A bit of history

The star alley did not arise at all spontaneously: the idea of creating a new attraction belonged to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce – both as a means of maintaining public celebrity fame, and as a way to provide the city’s budget with additional income. Originally the plan was to use a brass caricature instead of a star with the actor’s name written in it, but the execution of it proved to be quite complicated and expensive. Therefore, the City Hall of Hollywood decided not to philosophize slyly, and took as a sample an ordinary five pointed star, “drawing” it from the ceiling of the hotel “Hollywood”.

The stars include, in addition to the name of the celebrity, one of five icons: a movie camera, a TV, a phonograph, a radio microphone and two masks, thus indicating to which area of show business the owner of the star belongs.

The first commemorative plate appeared on the Alley of Stars in 1958. More precisely, these were the eight first plates from 1550 celebrities chosen by members of the Chamber of Commerce, who in the future were to be awarded their “star”. Since 1960, the regular laying of plates began, which continues to this day. However, the history of the Mall knows many defeats: in the 1960s and 1970s there was almost a fifteen-year stagnation complicated by legal proceedings, and then the heyday began again. Today the Avenue of Stars has more than 2500 registered plates.

The bookmarking of the name “star” on the Star Alley is not at all free: the lucky recipient of the nominal plate is to pay 30 thousand USD of “organizational expenses”.

What to see

The alley of stars is one of the “longest” attractions: its total length is more than 18 city blocks! The main part stretches 15 blocks along the Hollywood Boulevard, and since its length was clearly not designed for the numerous representatives of bohemia, there is also a three-quarter “tail” of the Mall on Vine Street. To see them all are capable only of inveterate fans of show business, so before you go to Alley, it makes sense to go to the official site of the site and find out the exact location of the “star” idol.

“Address” of the name plate is indicated by the exact address of the building opposite to which it is located.

Some very prominent representatives of the entertainment industry have two stars on the Walk of the Stars: for example, John Lennon, Ringo Star and George Harrison are immortalized as members of The Beatles and as solo performers. And in exceptional cases, the Stars also marked stars that do not fall under any of the categories of show business – for example, Muhammad Ali (in his case, the Committee equated boxing fights of an outstanding athlete to a theatrical art).

And of course, there were mythical characters: Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Snow White and Dwarfs, Shrek, The Simpsons and many other cartoon characters are on a par with the names of real people.

The ceremony of star setting

It’s quite easy to get to the ceremony of bookmarking a star’s plate of a star: it is enough to get acquainted with the schedule of events on the Avenue of Stars website in advance and come early. Ceremonies usually begin at 11:30 and last about 45 minutes. The entrance is free; you need to consider that you can not climb anything (satellite companions, chair or ladder). An indispensable condition for bookmarking a “star” is the personal presence of a celebrity.

Converting Formats Should Be Legal

This is the official stance of K.A.P.A. (Karaoke Anti-Piracy Agency…essentially the RIAA of the karaoke world) taken directly from their website:

Q. If I own my own discs, can I load them onto a hard drive to play them in a show, etc.?

A. No, you MAY NOT load songs from other manufacturers on your hard drive. The licensing rights for music on a hard drive machine exist only between the machine manufacturer and the music provider. These rights do not extend to the owner of the machine, to load songs from other manufacturers on the hard drive player. Copying the discs on to a hard drive is still copying the discs. Legally, it is absolutely no different than burning a copy of the discs. In order to copy your discs on to your hard drive, you have to have the written permission of the company that produced the discs and owns the copyrights.

On this page I will attempt to convince you that format conversion should not be a crime and that businesses should be allowed to convert a phonorecord (That’s the legal definition for a song) from one format to another. I am not making a case for piracy, the legitimacy of Peer to Peer networks, nor serial copying, but rather the simple process of encoding a compact disc to a compressed digital audio format like MP3. With piracy and serial copying, the artist is not paid for their work. With format conversion, it is assumed the work being converted was legally purchased, and thus the artist was paid his share of the royalties.

We’ll begin with a little bit of history on the DJ industry. When the DJ industry first started, vinyl records were the most popular medium for their performances. How ever, these were heavy and easily damaged. Because of their weight and cost, many DJs only brought a few hundred records to a performance and much money was spent replacing records that hard worn out or become scratched. While this was good for the record industry, it was bad for consumers because it increased the costs for the DJ which were then passed on to the consumers. When the cassette tape was introduced, most DJ’s began using them instead because they were lighter and more durable. It was impractical to copy records on to cassette tape because the noise of the record (especially if it was worn) combined with the tape noise made for a poor quality recording. While tapes were more durable than records, they too wore out. Again, this was good for the recording industry because it meant that DJs would have to purchase the same record they already owned in the cassette format. Of course, this cost was passed onto the consumers through higher prices charged by DJs. When the CD came out, DJs switched formats again. They now had a digital medium that wouldn’t wear out no matter how many times it was played. It weighed less than a tape, and it offered the ability to find a particular track as quickly as DJs used to be able to with vinyl records. Now instead of bringing a few hundred records, or several hundred cassettes, DJs could bring one or two thousand CDs. This meant DJs had a consistent product and a wider selection of music than a band, so not surprisingly DJs are now the entertainment of choice at weddings and parties.

Now enter compressed digital audio. Most people are familiar with MP3, so I will use that term in place of compressed digital audio, however most DJs use other better compression formats than MP3. With the MP3 format, DJs can store not just one or two thousand CDs worth of music, but hundreds of thousands of CDs. Since MP3’s are digital, they never wear out, and because they reside on a computer hard disk, they never get scratched. In 50 years they will sound the same as they do today. They take up less room because they are inside the PC, and not spread out on a 3 foot by 6 foot table. They are lighter because they are not a physical “thing”. And since computers are really great at sorting information, requested music can be found instantly by the DJ instead of forcing him to search through thousands of CDs to find that one particular CD that has that one requested song. Compressed audio is a godsend for the DJ because it means he never has to replace a disc/cassette/record, he has less to carry, he can offer the widest selection of music possible, and reduce his cost. This is great for consumers because lower costs mean lower prices.

Some argue that compressed audio does not have the same sound quality as a CD, and I have to agree. However, it takes a very good ear and a good set of speakers to detect a difference between a high quality digital encoding and a CD. In a large hall filled with celebrating people the two are indistinguishable. Further, I would point out that CDs do not sound as good as a high quality analog recording like a vinyl record, but the public still embraced compact discs with open arms. The public seem quite happy with a good recording that is more durable than a great recording that degrades.

Unfortunately, as with every invention that threatens the status quo, it is illegal. Currently disc jockeys who convert a CD to another format (including another CD) are breaking copyright law because such a conversion is not considered “Fair Use”. The courts use four factors set forth in section 107 of the Copyright Law to determine if a use is “Fair Use”:

1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.

2. The nature of the copyrighted work.

3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.

4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

In the case of Disk Jockeys, the questions would be answered as such:

1. Commercial use for private performance. It is a private performance because Joe Public can’t simply walk into Jane Doe’s wedding without an invitation, nor can he attend ACME Corp.’s company Christmas party unless he works there, but because the disc jockey is charging for his service, it is a commercial use.

2. The nature of the copyrighted material is a creative work. Creative works typically afforded a more restrictive definition of Fair Use than informational works like dictionaries and encyclopedias.

3. The entire work is used in the format conversion process. This should be seen as a plus, since the disc jockey is not altering the work in any way. The DJ is faithfully reproducing the entire work as intended by the artist.

4. The effect of this conversion increases the potential market for and the value of the copyrighted work. By allowing disc jockeys to convert formats, they will be able to carry more music to a performance, and potentially bring the artist more fans and ultimately more fame and money.

To add this all up, the fact that it is commercial use of a creative work argues against fair use, but the fact that the entire work is used and its use potentially increases the market for the artist should outweigh the negatives. The fact that it is a private performance is fairly neutral.

Another reason it is illegal is because the CD is not consumed during the process of conversion, so by nature of the process one is left with 2 copies of the recording instead of the one that was purchased. In theory the DJ should pay for that second copy. Unfortunately, no method for paying for this second copy is available, and since many DJs would rather have the music in digital format than CD format you would find them selling the CD after making the conversion which would hurt record sales even more since you would now have a glut of discs flooding an already battered market. This would be legal if the DJ were forced to pay for the copy, as the original CDs carry the Right of First Sale (which means you can sell it at a garage sale, sell it on eBay, or trade it in at a used music store). Having the DJ pay for the created copy would imply its legitimacy as a legal copy in and of itself, and thereby imply the Right of First Sale to it as well.

“What can I do about this?”

If like me you feel that the music industry is trampling your rights, contact your state senators and representatives and let them know that your vote is more important than the money they get from the music industry’s special interest groups.