Steve Forte
Card Games

Steve Forte: hero and villain of blackjack

In the world of gambling, as in all aspects of life, there have always been people who have tried to profit from their knowledge through unorthodox practices. Cheating the law is commonplace, always with the aim of making the maximum profit within the framework of the law. 

That is what happens to such an illustrious protagonist as Steve Forte. The American gambler is considered an eminence in the world of gambling and that is because he knows what is going on in the casino market like nobody else. He is also credited with being one of the great historians of gambling history, as he has a collection of volumes on gambling books that would surprise even the most amateur gamblers. An expert who handled blackjack like nobody else and who managed to put in check the most important physical casinos in Las Vegas in his time.

And he started from childhood

When he was just a few years old, Forte became interested in magic games, especially those involving the handling of a pack of cards. In front of his family, he would perform jaw-dropping tricks that made the boy begin to develop his previously unseen abilities with playing cards. It was at this stage that he acquired an extraordinary command of the cards, being able to deal the cards he wanted without anyone noticing the manipulation he was carrying out. That is why he decided to enter the world of gambling.

Blackjack caught his attention and he ended up proclaiming himself a professional blackjack player, seeing that he could make a living from what he earned. However, Steve had a funny thing on his mind and that was that card counting was not his strongest suit. Like all gamblers he knew how to do it and practised it often, but he put more effort into another kind of tactic. A tactic that had to do with the dealers in the gambling halls. He knew very well what it was to deal and to do it in an optimal way.

Forte explains in one of his books that have remained in the memory how to notice the gestures made by the dealer at a table in order to be able to guess the type of hand he is holding. According to his explanations, the dealer leaves physical “warnings” of the type of cards he has in his hand, as a result of the way he deals, the speed with which he deals, and the expressions on his face. A rather curious blackjack strategy. All in all, a comprehensive study of card handlers that has been considered very beneficial to many players. Others, however, have criticised him harshly and questioned whether it is of any use at all.

Steve Forte

They have done so on the grounds that Forte is not a man to be trusted, due to the fine line he walks in the constant battle between player and banker. The land-based casinos conducted a witch-hunt in the 1990s against professional gamblers who were making a lot of money thanks to their innovative counting techniques. Not only techniques were used, but also traps such as loaded dice or electronic devices capable of monitoring the moves of the same table.

The owners of the casinos set to work to throw out all the users, who in their opinion were “cheating”. As they were private institutions, no one could stop them, although there were complaints from players who ended up being readmitted to casinos, since it could not be proved in court that their actions were illegal or that they were sufficient grounds for expulsion. The fact is that Forte also contributed to the gambling halls’ efforts to detect cheaters, which is why many in the gamblers’ guild consider him a traitor who allied himself with the competition.

Forte set up a casino consultancy company to help casinos identify problem gamblers and cut their chances of beating the bank. Major casino companies such as Mirage Entertainment, MGM and Caesars’ Entertainment were Forte’s partners and paid him large sums of money for his help. Indirectly, they helped to tarnish his reputation as a player and cast doubt on his honesty as a professional. Something that Forte has respected and which has led him to remain anonymous and not speak out too much. Perhaps the opposite would be adding fuel to the fire.

Such is his skill with cards that he even had his own little space in the cinema, although not on the front page. For the film Rounders, Forte advised and helped the actors on the moves they should make with the deck of cards to make the film more realistic. Although he was not able to remain active in the casino as a gambler, since it is the dealers who always hold the deck, his knowledge from an early age and the constant study he kept up throughout his life helped him to be a valid man for the job. Even in specific scenes he gave his point of view on how they should be developed.

Today, Forte is still involved in the world of gaming. The advent of online casinos has helped him to become somewhat more invisible, although he still attends tournaments of other games such as Texas Holdem at land-based casinos in the United States. Wherever he goes he creates a buzz.

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