Richard Munchkin is a prolific writer, director, producer, radio host, and professional gambler. He is known for his book Gambling Wizards, which narrates the history of some of the most well-known blackjack players of all time.
Growing up in the town of Des Plaines, Illinois, Munchkin took a liking to strategy games at a very young age. By the age of three, he was proficient in the games of chess and gin rummy. It was by the age of twelve that Munchkin fancied the idea of playing games in order to when money. It was at this time that he began backgammon and poker seriously. His talent and skills were able to provide him with enough income to put himself through Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theater arts. Upon completing his undergrad in the late 70’s –and not wanting to be a starving actor in the Hollywood strip –he moved to Las Vegas and began work as a card dealer, and occasionally a pit boss, at the Castaways Casino.
It was at this time, in 1977, Munchkin learned how to count cards. He recalls playing backgammon in a bar in Chicago with a dentist when he told Munchkin about a way to beat blackjack mathematically. Intrigued by the idea, Munchkin ordered the book Playing Blackjack as a Business, and moved full time to Las Vegas. After completing dealer school, he was hired on as a dealer, as he recalls, “I would practice counting while dealing,” and began to sharpen his card counting skills full time in Vegas. Nevertheless, Munchkin eventually found it more profitable to be a blackjack player than a blackjack dealer, and began playing with a team in the later 70’s. Munchkin’s first experiences playing on a team wasn’t as profitable as he had expected, and after a failed hand, Munchkin quit the team and went back to dealing. Nevertheless, he was soon drawn back into playing. Although their original bankroll funder moved back to Australia, Munchkin and his friends began playing very seriously and soon the tides began to change as much success and profits were reaped by Munchkin and his team the next decade.
As a theatre major, Munchkin’s idea was to make a large amount of profit in Las Vegas, and eventually sojourn to Los Angeles to get involved in the film industry. Although he endured many unforeseen circumstances, this is precisely what Munchkin did. Munchkin launched his film career in the 80’s, and between ’87 and ’99, Munchkin produced and directed over twenty movies such as Evil Obsession, Fists of Iron, Ring of Fire, L.A. Heat, Out for Blood, and Deadly Bet.
In 2002, Munchkin authored his famous book entitled Gambling Wizards, and also frequently contributes op-ed pieces to Blackjack Magazine, All in Magazine, and Blackjack Forum. In 2004, Munchkin participated season one of the World Series of Blackjack. In 2009 Munchkin was inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame.
Munchkin currently hosts a weekly radio show called Gambling with an Edge, which is syndicated on KLAV in Las Vegas, Nevada.