|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, 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.
Where Kentucky's Gubernatorial Candidates Stand on Casino Gambling - Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting
The Secret of Put Bets
Asian Handicaps Explained
The most common way to bet on football in the UK is with 3 way betting (sometimes called 1X2). The three options are home win, draw and away win.
The Secret of Multiple Odds Tables
There Is No Such Thing As The Gambling Olympics!
I often become bewildered when I hear of people bragging, because they have high strike rates and/or high profit-on-turnover figures (POT). You know the 'my strike rate on the Soccer is 73%' or 'my POT on the gallops is 90%'.
Gambling Comps 101 or The Ask Game
Gambling Comps 101 or The Ask Game I don't know who did it or when it happened, but someone shortened the word complimentary to comp and made it an industry standard. In casino language, comps are cash or gifts (freebies) that the casinos give to their customers as a reward for gambling with them.
The Secret of Pushing the Pass Line
The Truth About Roulette Systems and How to Win!
The Truth about Roulette Systems and How to Win!Casinos have an edge and they make money, FACT. Players bet on Roulette and the game has a built in edge in the casinos favour.
You Can Make Poker Less Painful (or--A Pain in the Arse can be Removed ...without Surgery)
As you will read in this article, the removal of a pain in the arse, from the poker table, can be accomplished without going under the knife, if you are diligent and persistent.At the 2005 WSOP, there were couple of players who acted objectionably and (See our 2005 WSOP Views) they received penalties due to this objectionable behavior.
How to Succeed in the Poker Freerolls Part 2
How to Succeed in the Poker Freerolls Part 1 looked mostly at what cards to play and when to play them, in Part 2 we take a look at other factors that you need to be aware of in order to succeed in the freerolls.7.
Texas Holdem Tournament Strategy - Winning vs. Aggressive Players
The Texas Hold'em poker phenomenon has taken the country by storm. There are reportedly over 100 million active poker players worldwide.
Party Poker Room Review
Party Poker is one of the world's largest online poker rooms with over 70,000 players. They cover almost 60% of the online poker market.
The Secrets of the Fives and Nines
Your Lottery Odds and The Fastest, No Cost Way To Radically Improve Them
If I had a lottery ticket for every time I've heard "well I play the Mega Millions lottery because the jackpot is so much bigger"..
Poker Tournament Freerolls Payout in Seven Figures
Poker tournaments freerolls are free poker tournaments that are hosted daily by the best online poker rooms. Poker tournament freerolls are often just called freerolls.
Useful Gambling Tips, Tricks & Secrets
The general idea of both land-based gambling as well as online casino gambling is, naturally, to make a profit, as would any profit-seeking business. The trick casinos play, however, is to give odds and games that at the very least seem fair so as to entice the player to come back time and time again.
Viva Las Vegas Buffets
Please correct me if I am wrong but aren't Las Vegas Buffets just the best in the world! Ok there are a few ones that are a bit how's your father (an Australian term for so so) but I am yet to go to a buffet that I havn't enjoyed. This is probably why I have a Vegas Buffet waist line.
Texas Holdem Tournament Poker Strategy - Betting Is Communicating
The "Language" of Poker BetsWe humans are very perceptive creatures. We are able to communicate in many different ways with one another.
Do You Want to Discover the Three Hidden Secrets of the Poker Playing Professional?
What's the difference between an amateur and a professional when it comes to poker playing? Professionals consistently win. Do you want to win like a pro? Professional poker players are professionals for a good reason - their professionals.
Gambling Equipment 101
The excitement and popularity of the gambling games entices few players to own their own gaming equipments. Mini blackjack tables and poker tables are quite famous among the buyers.
Online Casino Bonuses Explained
Types Of Online Casino BonusesIf you've ever considered playing at an online casino, you should be aware that the vast majority of them offer cash bonuses as an incentive to play. While there are some generous offers out there today, being made, it's very important that you understand how casino bonuses work and understand the terms and conditions of the offer.
Section Site Map - Submit News - Feedback - Comments - Advertise with Us
Copyright © 2006 Luminati Inc. All rights reserved.