If you play Blackjack, there is no doubt you’ve heard about the book, Beat The Dealer: A Winning Strategy for the game of Twenty One, authored by Edward O. Thorp. The concept for the book came about during his tenure as a mathematics professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or as it more affectionately known as MIT.
During the early 1990’s, what began as a Boston College Club of students who liked to play blackjack turned into an underground club that chose certain members based on certain skills and aptitudes in and out of casinos to run a blackjack ring. Students also feverishly studied and set to memory Thorpe’s book, Beat The Dealer. A team of blackjack players was comprised and only a select few of members were chosen for the team.
The team was a legal entity called Strategic Investments. Strategic Solutions was the legal entity the team was named. The company began to fall apart because it did not have a clear business plan. During the summer of 1994, one of Strategic Solutions Managers left to form his own team and to reconstruct the strategic approach with highly skilled quality players he would personally hand select.
This new team would infamously become known as The MIT Blackjack Team. The Team put into action Thorp’s theories and mathematical calculations and set out to attack casinos and the weaknesses in their systems.
The Team broke into two groups, The Amphibians and The Reptiles. The Reptiles were the group that “Brought Down The House”. The Amphibians were the team that Busted Vegas. The total amount of team members at one time was about twenty five, however due to turnover; the number was estimated to be much higher.
The techniques the teams used were primarily card counting and occasionally card steering and shuffle tracking. The other way was by strategic techniques which had its set of cons because there were many variables involved; most of which a player didn’t have control over. During a strategic move it could be costly if the player makes a mistake with card steering and shuffle tracking it would be incur compared to that of being one off on a running count of the cards.
The Team won hundreds of thousands of dollars and brought their ascent of terror to casinos around the world. The team was extremely successful and highly undetectable for many years.
Reportedly at the grand opening of the Mohegan Sun Casino at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania, the two teams arrived one weekend apart to wreak their havoc. The Amphibians had $250,000 in winnings and The Reptiles ending up leaving with winnings of about $330,000. The Casino suffered a horrid loss especially for the grand opening and soon after they thoroughly changed their rules on how the game of blackjack was dealt
The MIT Blackjack Team co-founders established The Blackjack Institute to teach their winning system. Their winning system is now available to the public. They are Mike Aponte (the Team’s big player and money maker. He was the 2004 1st World Series of Blackjack champion); Dave Irvine (Masters Degree in Biological Engineering and a MBA from Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. He has his own engineering consulting company and; the notorious Johnny C (Distinguished blackjack player revered across the world for his advanced strategy skills. He is also a technical expert at The Institute).
The MIT Blackjack Team’s reign over the world of blackjack that eventually rocked the world of casinos and the game of blackjack, is an important part of blackjack history.