In a 2002 Blackjack Forum interview, Tommy Hyland reported that he started his playing career in 1979 after having been inspired by Lawrence Revere's book Playing Blackjack as a Business. His original blackjack team had four players who each put $4000 into the team bankroll. The team was launched when Atlantic City casinos offered blackjack with a rule called Early Surrender, which gave knowledgeable players an edge off the top. Within a few months, the Hyland team had built their bankroll to roughly $50,000.
When conditions worsened for card counters in Atlantic City, Hyland's original teammates headed to Asia to play. But Hyland stayed in Atlantic City and recruited golf buddies to form a new team. Among the professional gambling techniques Hyland's blackjack team has used through the years are computer play, shuffle tracking and ace sequencing, all methods that gain players a higher edge than card counting and make it more difficult for casinos to detect winning players.
In 1994, members of the Hyland blackjack team were arrested after an ace sequencing team play at Casino Windsor in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. A Blackjack Forum article documents how three Las Vegas casinos influenced authorities in Windsor to prosecute the players for cheating. The case was seen by professional gamblers as an attempt to establish a legal precedent finding blackjack team play and ace sequencing strategies illegal. However, the judge in the case, referring repeatedly in his written decision to expert testimony from Arnold Snyder, ruled that the players' conduct was not cheating, but merely the use of intelligent strategy.
The longevity of the Hyland team is unusual among blackjack teams, which often fall apart due to discouragement or suspicion among team members during losing streaks. Many former members attribute the Hyland team's success not only to Tommy Hyland's knowledge of gambling, but to his exceptional ability to engender loyalty and trust among team members. Tommy Hyland was elected by professional gamblers as one of the 7 original inductees into the Blackjack Hall of Fame.