Richard Munchkin is a professional blackjack player. He also writes, directs, and produces movies and television shows. He’s a member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame, inducted as much for his skill at the game as for his contributions to its culture. Munchkin wrote a popular book of interviews, runs a weekly radio and podcast series, and writes articles on gambling strategy in magazines and other venues.
Early Life & Gambling
The man, born Richard Jacobs, took to gambling at a young age, reading every book on the subject at his local library well before he was of legal gambling age. Richard says what he learned in those early days of casino study allowed him to pay for an education at Columbia College in Chicago by participating in for-profit backgammon games.
With a Mensa-level IQ and a degree in Theater Arts in hand, Munchkin moved to Las Vegas as soon as he finished school, and took a job dealing 21 at the Castaways Hotel, even serving as a pit boss at one time. According to his own blog, he learned to count cards and immediately found that he was making four times his casino salary gambling just two days a week. Growing bored with winning, and with profits in hand, he moved to Hollywood to try his hand at the movie business.
Munchkin Becomes a Film-maker
The writer’s background – his degree from Columbia College was a Bachelor of Arts in Theater – means that his transition to Hollywood from Vegas makes sense. Though he’s spoken of his disillusion with Hollywood in interviews and blog posts, he made a string of martial arts movies in the 80s and 90s, often working with his brother on the projects. The most popular film he made is 1991’s Ring of Fire, starring the kickboxing champ Don “The Dragon” Wilson.
Richard also directed episodes of two television series: L.A. Heat and Hollywood Safari. His twelve years in Hollywood, however, is not the thing Munchkin is known for in the blackjack community.
A Return to Betting & Career As a Writer
After competing in the first World Series of Blackjack event in 2004 (in which he placed second) and the 2005 World Series of Blackjack (in which he failed to make the final round) Richard had an idea for a book that’s become one of his most famous creations, a book featuring interviews with the world’s best gamblers.
The book Gambling Wizards: Conversations with the World’s Greatest Gamblers features interviews with players like Billy Walters, David “Chip” Reese, Tommy Hyland, Mike Svobodny, Stan Tomchin, Cathy Hulbert, Alan Woods, and Doyle Brunson, all famous for their skills in casino games like poker and blackjack, sports betting, and a few non-traditional titles like backgammon and chess.
Between the popularity of this book and the material he’s continued to create with Munchkin’s blog and weekly podcast Gambling With an Edge, he’s become a big name as a blackjack and general gambling strategist. The blog, which contains interviews with a variety of big names in gambling strategy, has featured talks with Stanford Wong, John Chang, and Michael Konik among over five dozen others. If you live in the Las Vegas area, you can currently hear his show live on radio station KLAV 1230 AM every Thursday from 7-8 PM.
The topics the writer covers aren’t just aimed at blackjack players. Card-counting tips and interviews with famous 21 players are plentiful, but the blog also ventures into other games of chance, discussing ways to gain an edge against the casino. Stanford Wong, for example, spends most of his podcast talking about craps and other dice games. If you’re an advantage gambler, the podcasts and blog posts he produces on the site will be of particular interest.
You can also find his writing on blackjack in a monthly column for Blackjack magazine, and occasionally at All In magazine and the website Blackjack Forum.
Blackjack Hall of Fame
In 2009, Richard was added to the game’s Hall of Fame for his contributions as both a blackjack player and a writer about the game. Members of the Hall are voted in by other living members, meaning that Richard Munchkin has earned the respect of the best 21 players in the world.
This man who intentionally changed his last name to Munchkin, boasting a genius-level intellect, is now a member of the celebrated Hall of Fame for his writing on the lives of blackjack players and the game’s strategy.