The MIT Blackjack Team Story
What's first thing that enters your mind when you think of MIT, 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 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 world's wiliest hackers hailed from 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 tune of millions! That was sweet music to ears of millions who have left behind small fortunes in their quest to beat 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 casino, each player had to pass a rigorous battery of tests encompassing all of roles under simulated casino conditions, including distraction and harassment. Still, they were not ready for big league until further honing their skills in Boston's Chinatown before heading to Las Vegas.
Card counting, heart of their system, is a proven winning technique. Blackjack odds offer one opportunity for those with skill, dogged determination, and discipline to consistently beat 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 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 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 advantage to house.
The MIT team used card counting as 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 statistical probability of receiving high or low cards, and they added an additional technique for cutting cards that further skewed odds in their favor.
Team members traveled together, seemingly as total strangers. Each assumed one of a number of well-crafted fake identities, teams included several types of players, each member playing a well-defined role. Anonymous investors provided 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.
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