The MIT Blackjack Team Story

What’s the primary aspect that enters your mind while you consider MIT, the world-famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology: engineering genius, mathematical wizard, visionary, geek, hacker? If you chose any one of those, you would be correct. Mix all of them collectively, add some smoke and mirrors, large-time nameless buyers, a sprint of anarchy for the right measure, and you get one of the nice scams of all times–the MIT Blackjack Team–the closing in excessive stakes, genius-sponsored hacking! Infamy is nothing new to MIT. Some of the world’s wiliest hackers hailed from the hallowed halls of MIT. Still, when one talented math professor and six talented students banded collectively, they propelled prepared hacking to dizzying heights and snookered organized gambling to the tune of millions! That was the sweet song to the ears of millions who’ve left in the back of small fortunes of their quest to beat the casinos.


After school club

The MIT Blackjack crew started as an after-college club held in campus school rooms in which students assembled to apply their genius to card games, unwind (at least, by way of MIT standards), and feature amusing. The membership sooner or later developed into a serious enterprise. The crew set up an entire underground device of casino mock-united states spanning residences, warehouses, and school rooms scattered across Boston in which they labored diligently to perfect their scheme. Before advancing to live play inside the online casino, every participant had to pass a rigorous battery of exams encompassing all the roles under simulated casino conditions, including distraction and harassment. Still, they had not been geared up for the big league till further honing their skills in Boston’s Chinatown before heading to Las Vegas.

Card Counting

Card counting, the heart of their device, is a validated prevailing approach. Blackjack odds provide the only opportunity for people with ability, dogged dedication, and field to consistently beat the residence. The casinos recognize that Blackjack is prone (that clever, disciplined gamers certainly have a preventing threat of triumphing). This is why they ban the massive winners and harass and threaten ability huge winners.

Casino control is aware that it takes the handiest one or two mistakes to turn a player’s prevailing system right into a residence win. That is the simplest motive that they tolerate card counting–till it turns towards them. They depend on human frailties, consisting of loss of area and distraction, to return the advantage to the residence.

The MIT group used card counting as the foundation of their system; it turned into the best one in every of several types of equipment in their magical device box, and even then, it wasn’t traditional card counting. It brought an excessive-low machine, primarily based on the statistical chance of receiving excessive or low cards. They brought a further technique for reducing the playing cards that similarly skewed the percentages in their desire.

Team contributors traveled collectively, seemingly as overall strangers. Each assumed one of some of the nicely crafted faux identities. The teams included several styles of players, each member playing a properly defined position. Anonymous traders supplied the stake and anticipated ago back on their investment. One such timeout netted a 154% ROI after expenses. Transporting huge quantities of coins back and forth like any other obstacle, they overcame with ingenuity. Cash traveled in each manageable manner: strapped to bodies, on “mules,” in hole crutches, to call some.

High Tech vs. Low Tech

Their reign spanned an amazing part of the Nineteen Nineties when they traveled the casino circuit with general abandon. Their $four hundred 000 prevailing weekend in Las Vegas is legendary. Casino generation changed into no longer yet at a level wherein it can suit wits with MIT genius. At least, it had now not made its manner to the sensible application in Las Vegas; Ironically, it would be low-tech sloppiness that delivered the team down ultimately.


The casinos had discovered to cope with the cardboard counters long before the MIT pikers hit the scene. When they recognized a card counter, they would ensure that his play at the tables become a residing nightmare, and should the cardboard counter take the residence for a big sum; they would immediately ban him. Technology within the Nineties had matured to some extent wherein horrific information traveled fast. When the card counter was detected at one online casino, it became nearly not possible to get away from detection at every other casino.

Profiled MIT Blackjack Team

Las Vegas online casino bosses depended on a protracted-mounted profile of the Blackjack card counter, but since the MIT crew ran counter to the profile, that also worked of their desire, supporting them to escape detection. The profile assumed one lone card counter. The crew’s nonchalant, seemingly random fashion of play also ran counter to the profile. But they were crazy like foxes–until they have been no extra.

Finally, sloppiness brought them to their knees. Eventually, they misplaced their discipline and their cool; the nicely-oiled gadget built with the precision of a Swiss watch started to disintegrate. They started to fraternize, not simply with the same old Las Vegas temptations, but with each different–in public. A total threat spotting of the groups enjoyable and gambling at a Las Vegas pool blew their cover. The tale of their unraveling wound its manner returned to the again streets of Boston before they eventually disbanded. The odds had ultimately become against them, and the stakes had been away too high for even the geniuses from MIT.

The closing final group participant became escorted from the desk with the parting words, “You cannot play right here. You’re too desirable for us.”

Blackjack Team within the News

The tale of the MIT Blackjack Team would not quit with its loss of life. Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions (Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, 2002), via Ben Mezrich, chronicles the escapades of the crew from its inception to the quiet of the road via the eyes of a group member, Kevin Lewis (now not his actual call). One enterprising former member currently gives seminars based on the system. ABC, CNN, History Channel, and CBS’s 60 Minutes all picked up the story.


The final irony has yet to play itself out. Kevin Spacey is generating the movie version of the e-book because it being released using MGM sometime in 2006. One has to surprise if the film will help MGM recover its losses to the MIT Blackjack Team.


Alcohol scholar. Bacon fan. Internetaholic. Beer geek. Thinker. Coffee advocate. Reader. Have a strong interest in consulting about teddy bears in Nigeria. Spent 2001-2004 promoting glue in Pensacola, FL. My current pet project is testing the market for salsa in Las Vegas, NV. In 2008 I was getting to know birdhouses worldwide. Spent 2002-2008 buying and selling easy-bake-ovens in Bethesda, MD. Spent 2002-2009 marketing country music in the financial sector.