MIT Blackjack Team
Casinos frown on card counters, especially if they are good at what they do. One of the most famous and successful cases of card counting was the MIT blackjack team. Books have been written about their casino exploits, and a full-length movie about the team was released in 2008. The blackjack team began as after-class meetings at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the mid 1990s. The team came into existence after several students decided to use statistic-based systems to beat the house in blackjack games. The team would plague casinos for years.
The initial core of players and associates conducted a recruiting campaign and even put up flyers on the MIT campus. Those that applied actually had to take tests to determine their suitability, and only the most qualified were selected. Team members were then trained in the system. The system they used was card counting which was invented in the 60's by math professor Edward Thorp. Card counting can give players an advantage over the house. Card counting was not new, but the MIT blackjack team took it to a whole new level. Blackjack itself is a relatively simple game, which you can learn to play here.
The team actually created casino mock ups and used a team based approach to card counting. By using a team they minimized their chances of getting caught. Using a team approach they disguised betting patterns that casino bosses are trained to look for. By the time the MIT team came on the scene, casinos were adept at identifying card counters and making their lives miserable. The team hoped that if they masked their activity well enough they would not draw the attention of casino bosses. The team spent many grueling hours perfecting their system. Every team member had to pass a difficult battery of tests before they were allowed to play in a live casino.
The team started their activities in underground card games. This was done to make sure calculations and methods would pass muster in a live casino. Once they were sure their system worked, they secured financial backing and created a corporation called Strategic Investments. They acquired a bankroll of hundreds of thousands and hit the casinos in Las Vegas. Their returns exceeded previous expectations. In one weekend, they made $400,000. In time, some casinos got suspicious, and the team was forced to move to smaller casinos. They tried European casinos, but unfortunately, their reputation followed them across the Atlantic. It has been reported that the team took in $5 million in just a few years. The team is now a part of pop culture.
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