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:

Syracuse.com

Albany makes bad bets on casino gambling and a legislative pay raise: Stephen ...
Syracuse.com
Yet that is exactly what New York state is about to do in awarding sites for casino gambling. Casino gambling is a sinking ship. In New Jersey, casino revenue tanked 45 percent, or $2.3 billion, in the past seven years. Trump's Taj Mahal is the fourth ...



Thomas Sweetz: Will gambling continue to provide governments with tax revenue?
Allentown Morning Call
Pennsylvania's 13th casino will be Live! Hotel & Casino in Philadelphia, a $425 million project approved this week by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Pennsylvania's 13th casino will be Live! Hotel & Casino in Philadelphia, a $425 million project ...



RU Daily Targum

Experts analyze benefits of horse racing, casino gambling in New Jersey
RU Daily Targum
Nowhere in New Jersey can one find casino gambling and horseback racing in the same place. This is putting pressure on both industries, according to a study entitled “2014 State of the New Jersey Horse Racing Industry” by Karyn Malinowski, professor ...



Watchdog Wire

Texas Legislature Considering A Measure Legalizing Casino Gambling
Watchdog Wire
A measure that would establish a Texas Gaming Commission and that would allow that commission to establish casino gambling in resort areas, cities with more than 675,000 people and existing pari-mutuel horse tracks, has been introduced to the state ...
Measure Would Allow Casino Gambing in TexasWOAI.com

all 2 news articles »


The Star-Ledger

Rutgers: Adding casino gambling to race tracks would benefit all of New Jersey
The Star-Ledger
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — The Rutgers Equine Science Center released "2014 State of the New Jersey Horse Racing Industry", a follow-up to the 2009 white paper which reported the impact of slot machines and video lottery terminals on the horse racing ...



Fox News

Will all bets be off? Massachusetts voters to decide casino gambling's fate
Fox News
A citizen-initiated ballot question this November will give voters a chance to reverse that 2011 decision -- ending casino gambling in the Bay State before it even begins. "The promises of revenue and jobs don't hold up," said John Ribeiro, chairman of ...
EDIT: Massachusetts Ballot Question 3Daily Free Press (subscription)
Ballot Question 3: Expanding prohibitions on gamingMy Fox Boston
You Can Repeal the DealValley Advocate
The Conversation US
all 74 news articles »


Municipal leaders eager to get a piece of the casino gambling action
Asahi Shimbun
Legalized casino gambling would be a “godsend” for Hashimoto and Matsui. The prefectural and municipal governments made it official this spring to push for bringing a casino resort complex to Yumeshima, a man-made island under construction in Osaka ...

and more »


Boston Globe

Voters: Casino gambling is a winner
MetroWest Daily News
PLAINVILLE – Voters dealt casinos the winning hand. Massachusetts voters rejected Question 3 Tuesday, saying yes to the state's fledgling casino industry. The ballot question, which called for repealing the state's 2011 casino gambling law, was ...
Voters approve earned sick time law, vote to keep casino gamblingWorcester Business Journal
Question 3 defeated; Mass. voters opt to keep casino gambling lawWicked Local Easton
Voters leave casino gambling law in placeWicked Local Framingham
CBS Local
all 376 news articles »


WSAV-TV

Lawmakers support casino gambling on Savannah's Hutchinson Island
Atlanta Business Chronicle
Savannah-based state legislators said Wednesday an effort is in the works to allow gambling casinos on Savannah's Hutchinson Island. The topic surfaced during the Savannah City Council's legislative luncheon on Hutchinson, after Alderman Tom Bordeaux ...
Questions Surround Potential Casinos On Hutchinson IslandWSAV-TV

all 9 news articles »


Texas lawmakers considering casino gambling
GamingTodaySlotsToday
For sixth year, Texas leaders asked to consider casino gambling For the sixth straight year, Texas lawmakers will be asked to consider allowing casino gambling in their state. All previous attempts to get casinos approved have failed, primarily because ...

and more »

Google News


Advertisement



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

Copyright 2006 Luminati Inc. All rights reserved.