An MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) students team, called Black Jack (Blackjack), became famous in the early 90’s for having won millions of dollars at blackjack by using a technique called “counting the cards”.Does it sound exceptional? Still..
This group of young students was formed in Cambridge, on the desks of the most famous University of Science USA. They focused on casino games and more specifically on the Blackjack game, and realized that this game was the only weapon they had to defeat the casino.
Statistically, Blackjack offers a small advantage at the beginning in comparison with other casino games. In addition to the basic strategy which consists of knowing when to shoot or when to stay, players can use a strategy of placing the bet, counting the cards and monitoring the cards shuffle in order to improve their probabilities.
Counting the cards is a very difficult method, but over the years, 60 techniques have been published in order to facilitate this method. Mathematician students have been attracted by the substantial amounts of money they could win by using this method.
The MIT group has therefore combined the advantages of playing individually and those of team playing, for the counting of cards, in order to maximize their incomes and dissimulate their behavior.
The team leader, Johnny Chang, said that in addition to the counting techniques, the group used also methods of monitoring the cards shuffle and tracking the aces. While the counting of the cards gave them an advantage of 2%,, the techniques used by the group gave them an extra 4% advantage over the casino.
The team recruited their members through leaflets distributed throughout the campus. Interested students have given some tests and if they succeeded, they were trained with the rest of the team.
The plan was clever and sophisticated. Indeed, while it is very easy to detect an isolated cards counter, it is much more difficult to spot a team of counters who have no connection one to another at first sight.
The most impressive is that they all had false identities to help them escape the surveillance of casinos, and that the players were continually changed in order to renew the familiar faces at the game tables.
The division of the group was simple: there were the detectors (spotters), gorillas and the big players. The detectors were players who did not earn and who played at a table yet counting cards but betting only the minimum sums.
When the count became positive, therefore advantageous because the number of high cards in stake was important, the detector signaled the gorillas or the big players. The gorillas did not count and were pleased to play big bets. The major players themselves were nothing but more experienced gorillas who counted the cards together with the detectors and managed to dissimulate the casinos by varying their bets.
The trick was well planned because the casinos could not accuse the players of counting the cards because the gorillas or the big players were not present at the table in the “burning” moment.
Supervisors and casino managers were therefore abused for a period of time, not even imagining that an organization of cards counting could exist. But the deception did not last long. A company named “Strategic Investments” discovered the team. Those students who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars have become suspects as the sums they have spent were not normal for young students.
After a few loosing sessions, the group was dismantled by itself. The story said that many students were banned from casinos,surveillance teams were provided with scholar year books (books found in universities, identifying students with their photos) in order to recognize them easily.
Today, these techniques are outdated- croupiers shuffle the cards very quickly, have several card games and sometimes use several clogs.
As to speak about on line blackjack, it is pointless to try any counting technique, as the games are continuously mixed. The movie by Kevin Spacey “Las Vegas 21″ traces the history of these students. A movie as exciting as the extraordinary story it tells…