In any casino, the only game where the player can have and take advantage of the odds, is blackjack and the MIT blackjack team did just that with stunning results.

MIT blackjack team & Beating the dealer

In the early 1960s when a university professor named Edward Thorp wrote his famous book ‘Beat the Dealer’ which featured a computer program for counting cards.

This gave the an understanding of the odds of the game, and the rewards to be had with the odds in a players favor and the MIT blackjack team were to use these odds to make a killing at the tables.

The game is quite simple. Both the dealer and the players are dealt cards, and whoever gets closer to 21 wins.

Thorpe’s system used card counting and other signals to “beat the dealer”. Just using one deck you could bring the odds to 2% in your favor.

However, casinos soon developed self-defence against card counters, in the same way as they had against cheaters.

The M

In the 1990s, at MIT an assistant professor and some students formed a kind of after-school club built around the mathematics of blackjack.

The MIT blackajack team developed a system around mathematics and statistics, and turned the club into a business; complete with investors.

Mock casinos were set up in various locations, and all aspects were examined, and considered, as in a large-scale mathematical study.

Psychological studies were made, both of the players and of the “house” employees, and all variables were taken into account.

It was science against the game and the game’s proponents.

The MIT group were far ahead in mental ability, and they proceeded to confront the casinos in an organized campaign.

To accomplish this they had a team which consisted of:

*A spotter. The spotter was the one who would sit at the table and play (always a mininum bet) but in reality was counting cards on their system.

*The rear-spotter. This player was the casual observer who did play, who studied the cards as well as the casino security and game supervisors.

*The gorilla. This was a player who just played big, and had nothing to do with the science, but was placed to distract attention.

*The BP (big player). This is an expert spotter that plays the high stakes.

The team would all pretend not to know each other, but they were all armed with superior mathematical knowledge, highly trained in their position and extemely funded.

The posts were chosen also for ethnic reasons, as the BP could not to be a white guy, but an Arab, or Oriental, appearing to be rich and unskilled players.

The Classic Method

The spotter sat at a blackjack table, bet always the minimum bets, and did the basic application of the card counting program.

The gorilla would sit at the same table and bet, winning/losing without the benefit of the program and only there as a distraction.

The black spotter was watching as a deck became “hot” that is, as the cards in the deck would favor the players and not the dealer.

By secret signals and signs, the BP would then join and beat the casino.

The system worked and worked well, till the team became sloppy and broke their own rules. The casinos also became aware of the system’s effects, and began to search for them.

The fraternized, were seen together by casino security consultants.

Were the teams disciplined, and under strict control, it would have been years later till they were caught and banned from all casinos.

In today’s world, sophisticated cheating is the game, using technology to beat the house, if possible. The casinos know this, and have developed their own highly sophisticated defense systems.

The MIT blackjack team card counters proved that you can win at blackjack, and without cheating.

By sacha Tarkovsky
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