Inventor who manufactured the first legal hidden computerized devices to aid advantage play.
Keith is not well-known to the general public, but among professional players he is revered as an electronics genius who has spent more than 30 years devising high-tech equipment—computers, video cameras, and communication devices—to beat the casinos. Blackjack was his initial target, and always remained his prime target.
Taft’s first blackjack computer, which he completed in 1972, weighed 15 pounds. Over the years, as computer chip technology developed, his computers became smaller, faster, and lighter. By the mid-1970s, he had a device that weighed only a few ounces that could play perfect strategy based on the exact cards remaining to be dealt.
If it were up to Keith, his son Marty’s name would be right along his in the Blackjack Hall of Fame, as the two have worked as partners since Marty was a teenager. For 30 years they have jointly created ever-more-clever hidden devices to beat the casinos, trained teams of players in their use, and have personally gone into the casinos to get the money.
Keith and Marty may, in fact, have literally invented the concept of computer “networking,” as they were wiring computer-equipped players together at casino blackjack tables 30 years ago in their efforts to beat the games. Taft equipment has been involved in some of the highest-edge plays that have ever taken place in blackjack history.
When Nevada outlawed devices in 1985, it was specifically as a result of a Taft device found on Keith’s brother, Ted—a miniature video camera built into Ted’s belt buckle that could relay an image of the dealer’s hole card as it was being dealt to a satellite receiving dish mounted in a pickup truck in the parking lot, where an accomplice read the video image then signaled Ted at the table with the information he needed to play his hand.
A pair of Keith’s “computer shoes” and a photo album of Keith’s devises are on permanent display in the Blackjack Hall of Fame museum at the Barona Casino in Lakeside, California.
An in-depth interview with Keith and Marty Taft was published in the Winter 2003-04 Blackjack Forum, and is available in the BlackjackForumOnline.com Library.