The legendary MIT Blackjack team

Today, we can all play games like blackjack whenever we want, wherever we want, thanks to the presence of so many online casinos. On the internet you’ll find a choice of blackjack varieties as well as numerous other casino games to play, including roulette, poker, slots and baccarat.

It’s great to be able to play for five minutes or five hours, and you have the convenience of playing wherever you want. But when you start playing blackjack, you’ll gradually realise that though it seems like a simple game of chance, there’s a fair amount of strategizing that you can do to improve your chances of winning. For example, novice players know about whether to take a hit or stand, and they know the aim is to get 21 or as close to without going over, and beating the dealer’s hand at the same time. But then you see other options are open to you, such as split, double down and this begins to seem a bit confusing until you read through a few blackjack tutorials, or try different strategies out while in demo mode – so you don’t risk losing money through not understanding the bets you’re placing.

In land-based casinos, the MIT Blackjack team is legendary – they used a card counting system to beat the casinos at blackjack. Although card counting would never work with online casinos, the history behind is an interesting one. The first person to devise a theory that card counting would work was MIT Professor Edward Thorp, who used an IBM 704 computer back in the 1970s to test the probabilities for blackjack. He then went on a road trip testing his theory in casinos in Reno, Lake Tahoe and Vegas and made $11,000 in one weekend using his system.

During the 1980s, a group of MIT students began practising blackjack for hours on end so that they could perfect the card counting system. They also worked through different scenarios of what to do if the casino staff cottoned on to what they were doing and how to not be caught. When they were ready to test out their hours of practice in a real casino, they allegedly cleared $400,000 in their first weekend. As the years went by the MIT Blackjack team recruited new members – picking brainy students from colleges like MIT and Harvard. Their story was told in a book by Ben Mezrich, called Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions. Although he used composite characters, those who they are supposed to be based on claimed he did not portray them or the events accurately.

Nonetheless, the book led to a film being produced. 21 is a 2008 film starring Kevin Spacey who plays the role of a university professor who recruits a group of students to help him fleece the casinos. For anyone who enjoys blackjack online, the film is a good one to watch!