The MIT Blackjack Team Story

November 22nd, 2017

The MIT Blackjack Team Story

By: TJ Newman

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.

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The History Of Roulette

November 22nd, 2017

The History Of Roulette

By: Adel Awwad

The term “Roulette” is derived from a French word meaning small wheel. The origin of Roulette is not very clear. while some sources state that Blaise Pascal, a 17th Century French mathematician invented the roulette wheel, other sources state that the game originated in China and was brought to Europe by Dominican monks who were trading with the Chinese.

During the late 18th century the Roulette wheel became very popular when Prince Charles (ruler of Monaco at the time introduced gambling to Monacco as a way of alleviating the financial problems of the region.

However, the modern version of the Roulette wheel did not appear until 1842 when Frenchmen Francois and Louis Blanc invented the single “0” roulette game. The game was eventually brought to America in the early 1800s.

However, the single “0” modification was rejected in America and the two zeros “00” where returned to the Roulette wheel. The Roulette wheel gained a great deal of popularity in America during the California Gold Rush.

There are two types of Roulette Games.

American Roulette Wheel

The American Roulette Wheel contains 38 numbers including 0, 00 and 1 to 36. Having two zeros (0, 00) gives the house a 5.26% advantage. In other words, for every $100 a gambler bets, the house will make $5.26 in profit.

European Roulette Wheel

The European Roulette Wheel contains 37 numbers including 0 and 1 to 36. Having one zero (0) gives the house a 2.70% advantage. In other words, for every $100 a gambler bets, the house will make $2.70 in profit.

Other differences between the two Roulette Games

One major difference pertains to the color of the gambling chips. While American casinos will give the players different colored chips which will allow the players to differentiate their chips/bets from other players, the European casinos will give the players the same coloured chips. Thus unlike the players at American casinos, gamblers at European casinos need to rely on memory to distinguish their chips/bets from those of other players.

Another difference between the two games includes the fact that in European casinos, croupiers use a long stick known as the Rake to sweep in all chips, while the American casino dealers will use their hands and arms to sweep the chips off the table.

The last major difference between the two types of Roulette games is that if the ball lands on the zero (0) in a European casino, then the gambler is offered the option of utilising the en prison rule, whereby he may choose to either surrender one half of his/her outside wagers or to leave them for the next game.

After purchasing the chips from the dealer, the player places them on the desired positions on the table in an attempt to predict where the ball will land after the wheel is spun and the ball comes to a stop.

Once the chips are placed on the table and the bets are made, the dealer spins the Roulette wheel while spinning the ball in the opposite direction inside the Roulette wheel. Players are allowed to continue placng their bets during the spin until the dealer says “No more bets”.

When the wheel slows down and the ball drops into one of the numbered slots, the dealer places a marker on the winning number on the Roulette table. The players who bet on the winning number or color are rewarded while the players who bet on the losing number(s) lose their chips to the casino.

Today, Roulette continues to be one of the most popular classic casino games, especially in Europe. This is due to the fact that European Roulette has only one zero and as a result offers a more appealing house edge.

Adel Awwad is the webmaster of Free Casino Cash Guide Copyright © 2005 http://www.casinoguide.ws – Free Casino Cash Guide, All Rights Reserved. This document may be freely redistributed in its unedited form and on the condition that all copyright references are kept intact along with the hyperlinked URLs.

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