The MIT Blackjack Team Story
Sometime in the late 90’s, as a break from their grueling curriculum a couple of MIT math and science students took to regular weekend escapades to Las Vegas. Here they discovered what most seasoned gamblers learn at an early point in their betting careers, that blackjack is the only game which you can really beat the casinos at.
Charged up with the discovery they took to betting big bucks. Taking as much as $400,000 to the casinos on one occasion. And there ‘luck’ didn’t let them down either, that $400,000 dollars and many other dollars here and there earned them a near fortune of $4,000,000 by the end of the year.
The method this whip ass blackjack team from MIT used to earn their cash is what has come to be known as the method of Card Counting. A simple gambler’s trick, it is used by player’s to successfully predict when the top cards will be dealt. All you have to do is know the cards which have already been dealt and accordingly figure out the ones which still remain in the pack. Experienced players can usually keep a running count which allows them to know when the high cards will come out. High cards, of course, are coveted possessions given that they push the odds in the favor of the players.
The MIT kids then took their discovery to the next obvious stage and went ahead to devise a computer programmer to sharpen their card counting technique skills and heighten their chances of bringing down the house even further. This they went on updating with newer and more refined strategies based on their own experiences, such that in no time they were a bunch of walking talking power hunk of a blackjack genius. And all this while scoring straight A’s in their weekly assignments!
However, it wasn’t long before the Casino’s caught a scent of the group of gambling maestro’s and alerted the security and surveillance teams to keep a look out for them. What the teams then went on to do is get in touch with the Griffin Agency, a reputed firm responsible for tracking down unwanted players and publishing an index called “The Griffin Book” containing the photographs and the detailed profiles of all these trouble makers’.
The Griffin agency followed the MIT’ians down to their yearbooks! and put in all their specifications; names, photographs address, everything down to the very last detail in to their index. Soon all the information collected against them was used to put the casino’s security’s ‘offensive counter measures’ to action and with that the kids up and running business came to a screeching halt. Initially they began running into strange problems at the tables, started losing bets frequently and soon lost most of their earnings. By 1993 their fairytale winning spree came crashing down and they were all banned from the casinos.
So, yes, I know what you are thinking, somewhere deep down you are praising the little guys for their wit and talent, and you are right, when you are 20 something, studying in MIT, riding high on life there is nothing in your life that can’t be envied. But there is probably a practical lesson somewhere dug in this rubble of achievements and accusations, which tells us to watch out for the casino’s unknown, secret but very real powers. Those boys from MIT fell flat on their face because they chose to mess with something they had no clue about, let alone any expertise to handle; the back operations of the casinos which we the customers are always kept away from and about which we can only speculate but not known. When you take to mess with that you know your flight will be short and that ultimately you’ll probably write a book or two about your experiences, like Ben Mezrich from amongst them did (Bringing Down the House), and be made a movie about, but that’s about it.