Published on March 19, 2015 in Industry News

the secret blackjack ballFor almost 20 years, Max Rubin, a prominent man in the casino industry, has organized and held the exclusive Blackjack Ball.

The invitation-only event is held only once a year and there are literally thousands of seasoned and professional gamblers hoping to land an invite or be a plus one to the ball. 

Rubin, a well-known gambler, author, and casino consultant, used to run the Blackjack Ball from his home before the number of attendees outgrew the comfort of his humble abode in 2004. The current top secret location only seats 112 people, but the chances of it growing even further are very likely. 

“It’s fun being a very popular guy one night a year," said Rubin, "But I still haven’t figured out how to say ‘No’ to a lot of really nice folks without sounding like an arrogant a-hole.”

One of the most fun and also most amazing features of the Blackjack Ball is that most of the guests have never even met each other. It's a completely new and unique experience for everyone! Rubin's aim was to bring those who love the game of Blackjack together. “It was a way,” he explained, “for players from different blackjack teams and solo players to get together and a place to hang out.”

Generally the guests at the Blackjack Ball are exclusively professional gamblers, but Rubin himself is said to be the only guest who actively works for the casino industry. Rubin offers his consulting services at the Barona Casino in San Diego, where members of the Blackjack Hall of Fame are commemorated. 

The secret lives of Blackjack players

While the Blackjack Ball is well known, the most "famous" of its guests are still anonymous.

Even those who publicly speak about their lives as Blackjack players, write books or are honored for their skills by their favourite casinos have a certain degree of anonymity. Famed players write their memoirs under pen names, they use platforms such as social media or radio to remain anonymous while spreading their knowledge and experiences. 

The Blackjack Ball is one night a year where these most anonymous players can share their experience, gossip and craft with each other without having to hide their faces and identities. Of course, no photos are allowed and even those who share with their fans that they will be attending the Ball keep the details to the bare minimum. The secret event comes with unspoken agreement that the rest of the guests will not break trust but rather protect their peers.

The celebrities in attendance

The 2014 Blackjack Ball was a particularly special one with twelve of the thirteen living members of the aforementioned Hall of Fame attending the secret get together. 

Some of these legends in the world of Blackjack were Dr Edward O Thorp, an author and legend among legends who published a short paper, A Favorable Strategy for Twenty-One, in 1961 which opened the eyes of intellectuals to the fact that Blackjack is, in fact, a game of skill. He also published a best-selling book in 1961 titled Beat The Dealer. 

Another Blackjack player who holds the title of being the youngest Blackjack Hall of Famer, James Grosjean, was in attendance. For a short time Grosjean published a book called Beyond Counting: Exploiting Casino Games from Blackjack to Video Poker. The book is now so rare that only 2 copies can be found and they have the hefty price tag of $2,399.98 and $3,139.29. He also won the Blackjack Ball's competition - the Blackjack Cup - three times in five years. Because of this, Rubin banned Grosjean from every playing again, but renamed the game the Grosjean Cup in his honor.

Blackjack Ball games

After much merriment, gossiping and fun, these seasoned gamblers do the obvious - they compete against each other. But before they do, they split into teams and bet on which team will have the most successful combined result after a night of fierce competition.

The games they participate in test not only the knowledge and intelligence of each player, but of their skills and competence as a Blackjack player. They test their skills by playing the following: The players participate in a card counting test, a skills-and-knowledge quiz, they must memorize the order of a deck of cards, organize a partial deck into the most favorable result, read the exact number of cards remaining in a shoe, test their skills in precision card cutting and finally they must win a second card counting test.

These players are not just the most skilled among their peers but they are some of the sharpest minds in the world. One can only imagine the secrets, jokes, knowledge and gossip shared between these veterans. What may have started as a fun gathering by Mr. Rubin has become one of the most anticipated events of the year for those who love Blackjack.