Uston was born in 1935, in New York. He came from a middle class family, and there wasn’t always enough money to go around. Nevertheless, he was able to secure a scholarship to Yale. He was just 16 years old.
Uston actually wanted to take music (jazz was always a big part of his ife) but his father advised him to take a practical course. This prompted him to shift to Harvard Business School, with a major in finance.
With his brains, his drive, and a degree from one of the most prestigious universities in the United States, Uston had no problems finding a job. He climbed up the ladder, and by the time he was 31, he was Vice President of the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange and earning $45,000 a year.
It was a hectic job, but Uston wanted a fresh challenge. He took up computer languages, programming, even piano lessons. But he was bored. He wanted a challenge, and one day, he heard about a professional blackjack player. Something clicked. He already knew about the connection between gambling theories and mathematics, but here was a chance to see things at work.
Uston believed that mathematics could help players win. He organized a team of some of the best blackjack players, and made a card counter system. They used the Hi Opt I system, devised by Lance Humble, and assigned counters to each table. They would make small bets, and then signal the big players when their computation showed them that the situation was “favorable for a win.” The counter would only return once the players had left the table.
In Ken’s first Las Vegas trip, at a stopover at Fremont Casino, he made $27,000 within 45 minutes, using just seven hands. He quit his job and played black jack fulltime. In the late 70s the casino had caught on, and the Sands Casino stopped him after winning $200,000. He was also banned from other casinos owned by the same organization. But he would not be stopped.