Legends of blackjack

Today, most people play casino games online rather than in a land-based casino. This should come as no surprise as playing at home whenever the mood takes you is so convenient in comparison with having to get to a casino.

You can find all the games that a land-based casino has to offer online. Almost all big names, including 32Red, Sky and BGO, are offering a wide array of game choices and promotions. Click here to visit the bgo casino site and you’ll see there’s a fantastic choice of blackjack games on offer there, as well as other casino classics like poker and roulette and hundreds of slots games to choose from.

Though they wouldn’t be able to use their shady practice of card-counting skills online, there is a legendary group of blackjack players that did manage to use card-counting to the best of their ability in the 80s and in so doing, got away with some huge wins at blackjack tables across the US. The MIT Blackjack Team was made up of talented Massachusetts Institute of Technology students who practiced for hours on end, perfecting the art of card-counting and working as a team before going out to play for real in different casinos.

Image by http://www.flickr.com/people/59937401@N07/
Image by http://www.flickr.com/people/59937401@N07/

It wasn’t the MIT Blackjack Team that came up with the theory of card-counting though. It was actually a professor at MIT called Edward Thorp, who worked out the probabilities of blackjack using an IBM 704 computer. When he was confident his theory would stand up to real-life situations, he went on the road to different casinos with a friend called Manny Kimmel and together they earned $11,000 during the first weekend of using his system. Thorp could have kept the theory to himself, but instead wrote a book called Beat the Dealer (1996), which made him plenty of money as it got onto the New York Times best seller list.

The MIT Blackjack Team exploited card-counting to the max, winning an amazing $400,000 in the first weekend of play. The members of the team changed over the years, with new members being recruited from other renowned educational institutions such as Harvard, but gradually it became impossible for them to play in US casinos as staff were trained to spot card-counters and they began to be recognised. The team continued to play over the years, but tended to play in other countries instead.

The team’s exploits were written about by Ben Mezrich in a supposedly factual book called Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions. Though the characters in the book were composite ones, some of the real MIT Blackjack Team members have refuted some of the events described by Mezrich. The book formed the basis for the 2008 Kevin Spacey film called 21 – about a professor who recruits a number of students to execute a casino heist using card-counting.

Back in the real world, both the MIT Blackjack Team and Edward Thorp have been inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame and will go down in history as legends of blackjack.