Bookmark Website  | Free Registration  | The Team
The Lounge  | Champions  | The Wire |  Schedule |  Audio  |  Arcade  |  The Top Ten  |  Historical  |  Email  |  Video

The MIT Blackjack Team Story


The MIT Blackjack Team Story

What's the first thing that enters your mind when you think of MIT, the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology: engineering genius, mathematical wizard, visionary, geek, hacker? If you chose any one of those, you would be correct. Mix them all together, add some smoke and mirrors, big-time anonymous investors, a dash of anarchy for good measure, and you get one of the best scams of all times-the MIT Blackjack Team-the ultimate in high stakes, genius-backed hacking! Infamy is nothing new to MIT. Some of the world's wiliest hackers hailed from the hallowed halls of MIT; but when one gifted math professor and six gifted students banded together, they propelled organized hacking to dizzying heights and snookered organized gambling to the tune of millions! That was sweet music to the ears of millions who have left behind small fortunes in their quest to beat the casinos.

After school club

The MIT Blackjack team began as an after-school club held in campus classrooms where students assembled to apply their genius to card games, unwind (at least, by MIT standards), and have fun. The club eventually evolved into serious business. The team set up a complete underground system of casino mock-ups spanning apartments, warehouses, and classrooms scattered across Boston where they worked diligently to perfect their scheme. Before advancing to live play in the casino, each player had to pass a rigorous battery of tests encompassing all of the roles under simulated casino conditions, including distraction and harassment. Still, they were not ready for the big league until further honing their skills in Boston's Chinatown before heading to Las Vegas.

Card Counting

Card counting, the heart of their system, is a proven winning technique. Blackjack odds offer the one opportunity for those with skill, dogged determination, and discipline to consistently beat the house. The casinos know that Blackjack is vulnerable (that smart, disciplined players actually have a fighting chance of winning), and that is why they ban the big winners and harass and threaten potential big winners.

Casino management further understands that it takes only one or two mistakes to turn a player's winning system into a house win, and that is the only reason that they tolerate card counting-until it turns against them. They rely on human frailties, such as lack of discipline and distraction, to return the advantage to the house.

The MIT team used card counting as the foundation of their system; it was only one among a number of tools in their magical tool box, and even then, it wasn't traditional card counting. It added a high-low system, based on the statistical probability of receiving high or low cards, and they added an additional technique for cutting the cards that further skewed the odds in their favor.

Team members traveled together, seemingly as total strangers. Each assumed one of a number of well-crafted fake identities, the teams included several types of players, each member playing a well-defined role. Anonymous investors provided the stake and expected a return on their investment. One such outing netted a 154% ROI after expenses. Transporting huge amounts of cash back and forth was another obstacle they overcame with ingenuity. Cash traveled in every conceivable manner: strapped to bodies, on "mules," in hollow crutches, just to name a few.

High Tech vs Low Tech

Their reign spanned a good part of the 1990s when they traveled the casino circuit with total abandon. Their $400,000 winning weekend in Las Vegas is legendary. Casino technology was not yet at a stage where it could match wits with MIT genius. At least, it had not made its way to practical application in Las Vegas, Ironically, it would be low-tech sloppiness that brought the team down in the end.

The casinos had learned to deal with the card counters long before the MIT pikers hit the scene. When they identified a card counter, they would ensure that his play at the tables was a living nightmare, and should the card counter take the house for a large sum, they would immediately ban him. Technology in the 1990s had matured to a point where bad news traveled fast. When the card counter was detected at one casino, it became nearly impossible to escape detection at any other casino.

Profiled MIT Blackjack Team

Las Vegas casino bosses relied on a long-established profile of the Blackjack card counter, but since the MIT team ran counter to the profile, that also worked in their favor, helping them to escape detection. The profile assumed one lone card counter. The team's nonchalant, seemingly random style of play also ran counter to the profile. But they were crazy like foxes-until they were no more.

Finally, sloppiness brought them to their knees. Eventually, they lost their discipline and their cool; the well-oiled machine built with the precision of a Swiss watch began to fall apart. They began to fraternize, and not just with the usual Las Vegas temptations, but with each other-in public. A total chance spotting of the teams relaxing and playing at a Las Vegas pool blew their cover. The tale of their unraveling wound its way back to the back streets of Boston before they finally disbanded. The odds had finally turned against them, and the stakes were far too high for even the geniuses from MIT.

The last remaining team player was escorted from the table with the parting words, "You can't play here. You're too good for us."

Blackjack Team in the News

The tale of the MIT Blackjack Team doesn't end with its demise. ABC, CNN, History Channel, and CBS's 60 Minutes all picked up the story. Bringing Down the House : The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions (Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, 2002), by Ben Mezrich, chronicles the escapades of the team from its inception to the end of the line through the eyes of team member, Kevin Lewis (not his real name). One enterprising former member currently offers seminars based on the system.

The final irony has yet to play itself out. Kevin Spacey is producing the movie version of the book, due to be released by MGM sometime in 2006. One has to wonder if the movie will help MGM recover its losses to the MIT Blackjack Team.

Want to learn more about Blackjack Strategy and other types of casino games? Casino Gambling Watchdogs is a collection of free articles related to online casino gambling.


MORE RESOURCES:

WPTV.com

Casino gambling boat stops cruises for 3-4 weeks for engine repairs
WPTV.com
The owner of the Blue Horizon Casino gambling boat released new details Wednesday morning to answer questions about why they've temporarily stopped the cruises. Owner Robert Weisberg said the ship will not offer any trips for three to four weeks so the ...

and more »


Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)

David Ralston 'open' to debate on casino gambling, but won't endorse it
Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)
House Speaker David Ralston is open to, if wary of, the coming debate over legalizing casino gambling in Georgia. But he also offers the reminder that the discussion over horse-racing, uncoupled from casinos this past legislative session, has already ...



The Courier-Journal

Churchill says online games not casino gambling
The Courier-Journal
Churchill Downs Inc., having bet on the future of free games played online, is asking a federal judge to dismiss a case that contends those games are illegal casino gambling. Last year's purchase of Big Fish Games by Churchill was the Louisville-based ...



AMERICAblog

Casino Gambling Push Unfolds in Georgia
Southern Political Report
Stephens, who heads the state House of Representatives economic development committee, says MGM's Atlanta location proposal would create 3,500 jobs and offer casino gambling as opposed to past projects that just involved video slot machines.
Gambling is not a viable or desirable method of job creationAMERICAblog (blog)

all 14 news articles »


Creative Loafing Atlanta

Narrow path offers opening for casino gambling in Georgia
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Want more news? Sign up for free newsletters to get more of the AJC delivered to your inbox. Gov. Nathan Deal, long opposed to gambling's expansion in Georgia, made a surprising policy shift Monday that could one day clear the way for the first casinos ...
Gov. Deal opposes gambling, but would he allow it?WXIA-TV

all 5 news articles »


New York Times

Documents Reveal New York State Agency's Role in Adirondacks Mining Proposal
New York Times
The amendment, along with five others including one that asked New Yorkers to approve casino gambling, was headed to the statewide ballot. NYCO, which reviewed drafts of the ballot language, was initially unhappy with the wording; in an email to Mr.



Delayed Casino Could Harm Springfield's Recovery
Banker & Tradesman
... when Springfield's leaders and top MGM executives gathered at a festive ground breaking ceremony for the Las Vegas giant's planned $800 gambling palace. But storm clouds are starting to move in on Springfield's big bet that casino gambling can ...

and more »


World Casino Directory

Poll says majority of Alabamians want to vote on gambling issues
Birmingham Business Journal
Few issues in Alabama politics are as polarizing as gambling, but one group says the majority of people around the state want to vote on the issue. The Alabama Jobs Foundation recently conducted a poll that showed 89 percent of Alabamians want the ...
What does Alabama want: taxes, cuts or gambling?AL.com

all 9 news articles »


AL.com

Gov. Robert Bentley says 'lottery is like leisure suits'
AL.com
What I don't want to see is our political system corrupted by gambling money, especially casino gambling money. "A lottery is a little bit different, because the state owns it." "All I'm saying is, let's do things right, let's fundamentally change the ...
Will legislators opt for just another fiscal patch?Montgomery Advertiser

all 15 news articles »


The News Journal

Delaware counties, taxpayers face higher costs
The News Journal
Delaware's budget continues to face higher costs for healthcare and state employee benefits, while simultaneously coping with an erosion of corporate unclaimed property revenue and taxes on casino gambling, two sources of money that have helped ...

and more »

Google News


Advertisement



Section Site Map - Submit News - Feedback - Comments - Advertise with Us

Copyright 2006 Luminati Inc. All rights reserved.