One of the founders of the concept of blackjack teams and one of the most highly respected blackjack players in the history of the game.
Al is one of the most highly respected blackjack players in the history of the game. This is the guy who literally invented team play at blackjack and taught Ken Uston how to count cards. Ken once said to Arnold Snyder: “I owe everything to Al. He really might be the greatest blackjack player there ever was, and he’s also a real gentleman.”
Al is primarily known to the general public through Ken Uston’s books as the mastermind who created the “big player” (BP) team concept. Al started his first blackjack team in the early 1970s, and until Uston’s first book, The Big Player, was published in 1977, Al’s teams were completely invisible to the casinos and extracted millions of dollars from them.
Virtually all of the most successful blackjack teams that came after The Big Player was published—the Hyland team, the MIT team, the Czech team, the Greeks—used Al’s BP concept to disguise their attacks, and that approach is still being employed profitably by teams today.
Al is known by professional players for his highly inventive approaches to beating the casinos, though many of his methods cannot yet be written about because they are still in use by players.
Al Francesco (aka Frank Schipani) passed away on February 3, 2024, at the age of 90.