The MIT Blackjack Team

Anybody with the slightest interest in blackjack will have heard about the MIT Blackjack Team, which scooped up millions of dollars as blackjack winnings from unsuspecting casinos all over the Strip. The team turned out to be the biggest nightmare of the casino gaming industry at the turn of the twentieth century.

The MIT Blackjack Team, formed in the eighties, comprised six old students of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who shared a keen interest in card games and wanted to use their knowledge, skills, and expertise to win in millions. The most popular of them was J. P. Massar, who was not only an active player, but also the manager of the team. The team spent years perfecting their techniques and strategies before finally moving into live casinos.

The MIT Blackjack Team used a large number of methods to make their millions, the most common of them being card counting. The team’s favorite card counting method was Hi-Lo, which worked wonders for them because they used it along with a card cutting technique that greatly enhanced their odds.

Casinos had a way of dealing with card counters that the MIT team could successfully evade. Whenever casinos detected card counters, they not only banned them, but also alerted other casinos against them. Casinos had created profiles of blackjack card counters; however, no casino profile matched the members of the MIT Blackjack Team, many of who were dark skinned and some of who were women.

The MIT Team walked into casinos pretending to be the spoilt children of rich parents. In their over eagerness to separate these kids from their cash, casinos hardly noticed that they were in fact dealing with the most outstanding group of card counters on earth. As a result, the team made around $400k during a single visit to Las Vegas.

Casinos failed to detect them because they worked as teams placed in categories of Spotters, Gorillas, and Big Players. The Spotters bet minimum and counted cards till the odds were in their favor, before motioning their high roller friends to join the fun. Gorillas did not count cards, but waited till the Spotters signaled to them. They pretended to be rich, dumb, and drunk, owing to which casinos hardly gave them a second glance. The Big Players bet, counted cards, and played at the same time, combining their card counting techniques with other techniques that helped them build huge bankrolls in no time.

All good things have to come to an end; accordingly, the good luck of the MIT Team also came to an end. They developed differences of opinion among themselves, after which it was difficult for them to work as a team. Casinos soon detected them and banned them one by one. One of the MIT team Ben Mezrich wrote a blackjack book called “Bringing Down the House,” which became very popular and later turned into the movie 21. Their story was told and re-told by ABC, History Channel, CNN, and CBS, and one of the team members even began offering seminars based on the team’s system.