Hyland first began gambling when he was just ten years old when he and his friends would toss coins near a wall with the nearest coin taking the winnings. In high school he was an avid sportsman playing golf, basketball and baseball while placing bets on his own performance and predicted success. Even when he took a place in college to study political science at Wittenburg, Ohio, he continued playing cards and developed a deep interest in gambling. But it was once he read Lawrence Revere's 'playing blackjack as a Business" that he became a man with a mission. Together with his roommate at the time he honed his skills and the pair began making trips to Atlantic City in 1978.
The more he played the more he began to believe in the card-counting systems and he read more on the subject as well as seeking advice from other counters that he met in the casinos. After reading Ken Uston’s book, 'Million Dollar Blackjack', that explains the theory of team card-counting in blackjack Hyland formed his own team with a few other players. Each member contributed $4000 to the cause and the team first began playing together in 1979. They met with immediate success and cleared thousands of dollars from casinos. However, the team soon split up when some members decided to take their system to Asia and work the casinos there. Not to be outdone, Hyland put together another team gleaned from his local golf club. He taught them the principles of card-counting and by the end of 1980 the team numbered 20 players. Despite its size the team has held together and has been beating casinos for more than a quarter of a century winning millions of dollars at casinos across the country.
Initially the team used small computers and when those were banned by casino they developed other methods to keep working the system such as shuffle tracking and ace sequencing. When correctly applied these methods give players an even better advantage than card-counting. Naturally, Hyland generated a fair amount of animosity from the gambling houses and things came to a head in 1994 when the team was arrested and taken to court. However, the presiding judge ruled the team had broken no laws and were merely using 'intelligent strategy'.
Hyland and his team continue to play wherever they haven't been banned and the soft-spoken Hyland has been a staunch lobbyist on behalf of players and their rights. Hyland's achievements were recognized by the blackjack community when in 2003 he was made an inaugural member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame.
Andrew Sanders - Managing Editor