The MIT Team

The MIT Team

The story of the MIT Blackjack team is already part of the popular world of blackjack, thanks to its immortalization in the movie “21”, which is based on the story of these students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. However, before moving on to a casino in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, the MIT team worked diligently to refine the card counting system, basic strategy as well as the whole process of casino representation. A battery of rigorous testing was actually performed to test the level of card count distraction resistance.

Casinos know that Blackjack is vulnerable, because in terms of mathematics it is really possible to overtake the house advantage, which is not the case with the vast majority of their games. However, they rely on the human error of the player and the inability to resist the natural distraction of the casino environment and it is expected that this advantage will not really be used to the advantage of the player.

The basis of MIT’s success was card counting through the Hi-Lo system, but they had other weapons in their arsenal. They were excellent practitioners of basic strategy, and they refined  the strategy formula and betting variation according to the card count. Also, the equia cover factor was taken seriously. Each player assumed a false identity and embodied the character in the casino. Each role had a well-defined objective, from the observer to a great gambler.

In fact, several card counting teams were created, which succeeded one another at MIT as players started their own businesses. His reign lasted for much of the 1990s, and the legendary weekend of $ 400,000 in Las Vegas is legendary.

Casinos already had a lot of experience with card counters before the MIT team arrived, and names like Edward Thorp and Keith Thaft had already created major problems as card counters.

Contrary to what most people might think, the MIT team was not the best team of card counters ever to come to Las Vegas. What set them apart was the level of “chomice” – the months of exhausting practice in confusing environments, the deepening of the code language, the true incarnations of characters (including fake BI), the switching of players when it was obvious that certain betting could indicate that you are counting cards.

All of this was as important as knowing how to count cards, as casinos teach their dealers the basics of card counting as well as the bet spreading concept (betting low when the cards are not in favor of the player and betting high when the cards favor them). the player). Thus, when a player bet significantly the dealer simply counted the cards already dealt and realized that the player was counting cards and he was asked to leave. Similarly, shared databases began to appear between casinos that registered card counters.

The MIT team had over 120 players, however four players stood out for their excellent performance in their roles:

Andy Bloch 

who had the role of observer – who counted the cards at the blackjack table, waiting for the critical moment when the cards favor the player.

Katie Byl 

Who played the role of controller – made small bets on the table and confirmed the observer’s card count.

Simon Dukach  

Who played the role of great gambler – waited for the controller ‘s secret signal (typically the sign was to cross his arms at the blackjack table) to enter the game and place big bets based on the count that is transmitted by the controller.

Mike Aponte 

Also had the role of great gambler. After the MIT team eventually created the card counting team known as the reptiles. The remaining three players from the MIT group eventually created the card counting group known as the amphibians who traveled around the world counting cards in various casinos.


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