Tommy Hyland’s whole life may as well be built around gambling in some way or another, but the game of blackjack is the one for which he is most known for his talents. Not only was he a fantastic blackjack player who had perfected the technique of card counting, but he was also a well-respected manager of not just one but two high-performance blackjack teams. He was a multi-talented individual.
In spite of the fact that his teams have raked in millions of dollars over the course of the years, Tommy places a higher priority on just taking pleasure in playing the game than he does on any potential earnings.
In an interview with RWM’s Gambling Wizards, Tommy was asked about the advantages of playing blackjack as part of a team. He responded as follows: “Yeah, there are a lot of fantastic things about playing on a team. There is also the sense of togetherness. You are able to travel with another person. You get new knowledge from one another. You disseminate knowledge to others. When working in a group, it seems like one has a better chance of coming up with original ideas.
Initial Attempts at Gambling and Their Effects
Tommy spent the most of his boyhood in New Jersey, which is where he was born in the 1950s and where he also spent his formative years. When Tommy was a kid, his dad would take him to the casino, the racecourse, or the pool rooms once or twice a month to try his luck at gambling. A game that Tommy used to play with his pals before he became really engaged in gambling was one in which they would toss pennies at a brick wall and see which penny would land closest to the wall after it had fallen.
The two pennies were awarded to the player whose coin fell with its edge closest to the wall. This age-old pastime, which is also referred to as “pinching pennies,” is sometimes regarded to be a very mild kind of gambling. After some time, they progressed to utilizing bigger coins such as nickels, dimes, and quarters. After that, he began challenging his friends to wagers on how well he would do in other sporting events, such as a game of basketball or a round of golf.
After he started attending high school, he took a break from betting for a time and instead concentrated on amassing bets instead. He would print photocopies of regular parlay cards, distribute them to individuals at school, and then sit back and watch the money pour in on a weekly basis. He had weeks in which he earned just thirty dollars, and other weeks in which he made at least fifty dollars. Taking into account his age as well as the era in which he lived, this was a substantial sum of money.
At one point, Tommy made the decision to create his own spreadsheets so that individuals in his school could put wagers on high school sports rather than professional sports. Because his calculations were so inaccurate, he lost more than $400 in only one night. As a result, he had to sell his pool table in order to meet all of the expenses.
Tommy never made another attempt to be the accountant after that one since it was quite evident that he was destined to be the player.
He concentrated his efforts on golf during his senior year of high school, and as a result, he was awarded a significant financial aid to attend Wittenberg University in Ohio. Even though political science was his declared field of study, he spent a significant amount of time playing golf each day rather than completing his coursework. On the weekends, Tommy would often be seen spending hours upon hours playing poker in the residence hall rooms of his various friends.
Step forward, Blackjack.
Tommy spent his free time reading, and he soon came across a few of books about blackjack. Anything related to gambling was of particular importance to him, so these books piqued his attention. Playing Blackjack as a Business, written by Lawrence Revere, was the title of one of such books.
Before going to an actual casino and putting their newfound knowledge to the test, Tommy and his roommate put the various techniques described in the book through their paces in their college dormitory. The first time that Tommy and his roommate had gambled at a genuine land-based casino was over the Christmas break of 1978, when they traveled the fifty miles from Tommy’s home to Atlantic City. There, they were able to test their luck at one of the city’s many brick-and-mortar gambling establishments.
At that time, Resorts International was the only casino that was operational.