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Mit-blackjack-team-history | Blackjack Science


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mit blackjack team names This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links.
The Back-Spotter The Back-Spotter can count cards without even being seated at the blackjack table.
The Spotter The Spotter counts cards while playing at the table.
Casinos screen for counters by watching for dramatic rises or drops in bets — a sure sign that a deck has gone hot or cold.
A Spotter avoids detection by resolutely sticking to the minimum bet on each hand.
Typically, he adopts the pose of a drunken millionaire who has green to burn.
A BP always plays a good deck, so he never has to lower his bets by much.
Fifty thousand dollars strapped to each thigh.
A hundred thousand dollars, in 10 bricks of hundreds, taped across my upper back.
Fifty thousand more Velcroed to my chest.
Scott Schafer From left: The back-spotter standing ; the spotter in yellow ; the gorilla center ; the big player far right.
I try to control my breathing as I stroll through Logan International Airport.
Terminal C is buzzing and chaotic, an over-air-conditioned hive of college students escaping Boston for a long weekend.
I am dressed like everyone else: baggy jeans, baseball hat, scuffed sneakers.
But in my mind, I have as much chance of blending in as a radioactive circus clown.
There's enough money hidden under my clothes to buy a two-bedroom condo.
My anxiety increases as I reach the security checkpoint.
I want to turn and run, but the security guard is staring at me, and I have no choice: I show him my ticket.
America West, flight 69, Boston to Vegas.
The Friday night Neon Express.
He gestures with his head, and I drop my mit blackjack team names onto the conveyor belt.
I know the chips will show up on the X-ray machine, but even if the guard makes me open the backpack, he won't realize how much money the yellow hunks of plastic represent.
This is an airport; they can drag me to a windowless room in the basement and handcuff me to a chair.
They can confiscate my stash, call in the DEA, FBI, and IRS.
It will be up to me to prove that I'm not a drug dealer.
In reality, I'm a writer, with six pulpy thrillers under my belt, but today I'm on the scent of a real life story even more high-octane than any of my fictional jaunts.
I'm ferrying money for Kevin Lewis, one of the best card counters alive.
He's taking me back to his glory days when he ran a card team that hit Vegas for millions.
The guard doesn't seem to be bothered by the bulges under my clothes.
He waves me through the metal detector, and I stumble toward my gate.
My heart rate has almost returned to normal when I spot Lewis standing near the back of the line of college kids waiting to board flight 69.
He doesn't look up, waiting until I am right next to him to show me the edges of a mischievous grin.
His voice is full of bravado, a stark contrast to his appearance.
Dressed in a gray sweatshirt and khaki shorts, Lewis looks like a stereotypical college student.
His features are ethnic, but beyond that, indeterminate.
He could be Asian, Latino, even Italian or Russian.
He is a carbon copy of thousands of other kids who call Boston home.
You know, James Bond kind of stuff.
But hollow crutches are a lot harder to explain to the FBI than Velcro.
The truth is, Kevin Lewis isn't his real name.
This amiable kid lived a double life for more than four years.
In Boston, he was a straight-A engineering major at MIT.
In Las Vegas, he was something more akin to a rock star.
He partied with Michael Jordan and Howard Stern.
He dated a cheerleader from the Los Angeles Rams and got drunk with Playboy centerfolds.
He was chased off a riverboat in Louisiana and narrowly avoided being thrown into a Bahamian jail.
He was audited by the IRS, tailed by private investigators, and had his picture faxed around the globe.
Along the way, he amassed a small fortune, which he keeps in neat stacks of Benjamins in a closet by his bed.
THE BABY-FACED CARD COUNTERS TURNED "21" INTO A HIGH-ROLLING ARBITRAGE GAME.
For six years in the 1990s, Lewis was a principal member of the MIT Blackjack Team, an infamous cabal of hyper-geniuses and anarchistic whiz kids who devised a method of card counting that took the gaming world completely by surprise.
Funded, in part, by shadowy investors and trained in mock casinos set up in classrooms, dingy apartments, and underground warehouses across Boston, Lewis and his gang used their smarts to give themselves an incredible advantage at the only truly beatable game in the pit.
A baby-faced card-counting team possessed with impressive mathematical skills — here was a novelty that turned blackjack into an arbitrage opportunity.
Their system was so successful, it took nearly two years before the casinos began to catch on — engaging in a cat-and-mouse war with the well-trained MIT conspirators.
To the casinos, there's no difference between legal card counters like Lewis, who use their brains to beat the game, and the brash, increasingly high tech cheaters who steal tens of millions of dollars from the resorts every year.
In response, the casinos have developed equally sophisticated means of identifying, tracking, and eliminating their enemies: i.
It's an interesting analogy, yet it falls severely short.
In this story Robin Hood is stealing from the rich to give to himself.
And the sheriff has a thousand eyes, covering every inch of the sky.
The Team "It started the summer after my junior year," Lewis recalls.
Both had dropped out of MIT, and neither one seemed to be interested in getting a job.
And yet they always seemed to have tons of money.
Hundred-dollar bills, all over the apartment.
Lewis was surprised when they asked to meet him late at night in a classroom on the Infinite Corridor, the long hallway that runs down the center of the MIT campus.
There, he was presented to a roomful of students he recognized from his math and science courses — the core of the MIT Blackjack Team.
At the helm was a man in his mid-thirties with frighteningly bad teeth and equally poor hygiene, a former assistant professor who went by the name Micky Rosa.
As Rosa explained it, the team had been around for nearly two decades.
In the beginning, it was more of an after-school club, a place for mathematical geniuses to play cards and pontificate on card-counting theory.
MIT being MIT — the world's premier stable of mit blackjack team names young math and science prodigies many visit web page whom had always been a little too smart for their own good — it wasn't long before the blackjack club had reached an elite level of play.
In recent years, their after-school hobby had become a business.
He was recruiting a select group of students, and Lewis fit the profile.
At first, Lewis was skeptical.
Bald white men with glasses, hunched over the cards, scrapping check this out their tiny advantage.
But Micky was talking about something much bigger.
Scott Schafer Folded arms: "Be prepared to drift over to this table, because the deck is starting to heat up.
Scott Schafer Fingering an earlobe: "What's the count?
Scott Schafer Hand in pocket: "The deck is really hot — bet big.
Scott Schafer Hand in hair: "Grab your chips so we can get out of here.
The pit boss is onto us!
Walk into any bookstore and head to the section on gambling.
An entire industry has been spawned by the belief that a mix of mathematics and practice can unlock the casinos' coffers.
Beginning with the publication of Edward Thorp's Beat the Dealer, back in 1962, an arsenal of card-counting systems has bolstered the popular notion that blackjack is the one game in the casino where the player can have an edge over the house.
Unlike roulette and craps, blackjack has a memory; past play can affect future outcomes.
By keeping track of the past, goes the theory, it's possible to predict, and thus take advantage of, the future.
On paper, the theory looks pretty good.
Blackjack itself is a simple game.
The player gets cards, the dealer gets cards, and whoever gets closer to 21 wins.
Though most novices believe the object is to get the best hand possible, the real point of blackjack is merely to beat the dealer's hand.
If the dealer busts goes over 21the player automatically wins.
Since the dealer has to keep hitting until he reaches 17, a deck with more high cards than low is dangerous to the dealer.
Likewise, since a natural blackjack 21 pays 1.
Based on these two facts, Thorp, a mathematics professor at UC Berkeley, developed a system to keep track of the ratio of high to low cards left in the deck.
With his "hi-lo" method of counting, Thorp could beat the dealer.
Adjusting both betting and play to take advantage of a high mit blackjack team names, Thorp and his protégés found that it's possible to maintain an advantage over the house of approximately 2 percent.
Playing against a single deck dealt down to the bottom, in a controlled environment without supervision, Thorp discovered card counting to be a sure thing.
TRY DOING THAT ON WALL STREET.
To combat the card counters, the majority of casinos use six decks, deal no more than two-thirds of the way through, and utilize thousands of video cameras to watch everyone they perceive as a potential threat.
A player armed with Thorp's book, hundreds of hours of practice, and a good head for numbers can still eke out a small profit from a six-deck shoe — but since card-counting strategy relies on the player's ability to raise and lower his bet to take advantage of the count, it doesn't take long for the casino to catch on.
In Las Vegas, the casino has the right to bar anyone it wants.
Atlantic City has more "civilized" rules: The casinos can't bar card counters, however they can annoy and harass them with constant shuffles, dealer changes, and other countermeasures.
Individual card counters who follow Thorp's system blackjack watch online succeed quickly find themselves first unwelcome and then extinct: In gaming parlance, they're dinosaurs.
By the early '70s, the casinos had overcome their initial panic.
They had learned to identify and contain the enemy.
So the enemy did what every good enemy does: It got smarter.
The Scheme The team was built around card counting's major innovation since Thorp's book: a division of labor.
While it's easy to spot a lone card counter raising and lowering his bet to take advantage of its highs and lows, it's much harder to catch a team of counters working together — dividing the roles of counting and betting between seemingly unrelated players.
The MIT team took this division of labor even further, refining the system by cycling in fresh young faces from the deep pool of mathematical talent back in Boston.
Furthermore, every member was given a faux persona, to be better able to pass unnoticed among those one might naturally find in a casino setting.
But beneath the trappings of disguise there were only three basic positions: Spotters, Gorillas, and Big Players BPs.
The Spotters tended to be inconspicuous and would sit at the table, playing the continue reading bet while counting the shoe.
Back-Spotters were deployed during overly crowded casino conditions and would maintain a count while standing behind the seated players.
When a count went positive — when there were a lot of high cards still to be played — a Spotter signaled either a Gorilla or a BP.
Gorillas didn't count at all: They simply bet big until they were signaled that the count had gone back down.
BPs were Gorillas who had graduated to a more refined style, counting along with the Spotters after being called to the table.
BPs were able to maneuver along with the deal, taking advantage of shifts in the count by playing multiple hands and finding other ways to vary bets without raising the casino's attention.
He entered big and hardly varied his bet.
Likewise, the Spotters always bet the minimum, never raising or lowering no matter what the count.
Neither type of player fit the mold the casino pit bosses had been trained to look for.
And since the Spotters called the BP into the game only when the deck was hot, the big money was played only in highly advantageous circumstances.
The team worked at the mathematics — the expected advantages, the proper Spotter payouts, the appropriate BP betting scheme — in rigorous detail, with the aid of computers and countless hours of simulated play.
Average profit percentages ranged from between 10 and 20 percent per gambling foray, but could go much higher depending on the number of open tables and the number of possible player hours.
You try and do that on Wall Street.
Scott Schafer The baby-faced card counters turned "21" into a high-rolling arbitrage game.
The MIT team thrived by choosing BPs who fit the casino mold of the young, foolish, and wealthy.
Primarily nonwhite, either Asian or Middle Eastern, these were the kids the casinos were accustomed source seeing bet a thousand bucks a hand.
Like many on the team, Kevin Lewis was part Asian, and could pass as the child of a rich Chinese or Japanese executive.
Asian kids, Greek kids, dark skin fits in better with lots of money in the casinos.
Jill Thomas is red-haired, blue-eyed, and partial to miniskirts — a high-powered consultant who graduated at the top blackjack 21 what is plus 3 her class from Harvard Business School.
Nobody would ever guess that she had spent hundreds of hours training in mock casinos set up by the MIT team.
At night, I'd wear tons of makeup and a low-cut top.
I'd play the dumb chick, and nobody ever suspected I was spotting.
The pit bosses helped me play my hands.
Two of the tricks that became a staple of the MIT system, shuffle tracking and ace tracking, exploit a concept called the nonrandom shuffle.
Because of time constraints, blackjack dealers cannot achieve completely random redistributions during the shuffle.
This means that certain packets of cards remain close enough together to be "tracked" through the deck.
By watching a group of low cards, for example, it's possible to cut the deck players assist the dealer by placing the cut card into the shuffled stack in such a way that some low cards never have to be played.
Likewise, a good shuffle tracker can "predict" a string of high cards and raise his bet even before the count goes positive.
Along with tracking groups of high or low cards, a trained counter can spot individual aces or even series of aces.
Since drawing an ace adds roughly a 37 percent advantage to the player's expected take, tracking a series of aces through the shuffle can be extremely profitable.
And again, ace tracking helps in camouflaging counting play: The BP raises his bet to "predict" the ace, not based on the count.
It didn't take long for Kevin Lewis to realize that the MIT team had taken card counting to an entirely new level.
Before heading to Vegas, he had to pass a variety of tests, all held in mock casinos spread throughout Boston.
His first task was mastering the art of spotting.
https://krimket.com/blackjack/gear-blackjack.html and Rosa dealt him hand after hand, asking for the count at various intervals.
Called to a table midplay, a BP has to take the running count and convert it into the more accurate "true count," by estimating how many cards are still left in the shoe.
That's because a count of plus 10 — a ratio of 10 extra high cards to low left to be played — has a much higher value when there is only one deck left in the shoe, as opposed to six.
Once the true count is established, a BP has to determine the proper bet.
On the test, Lewis was asked to make highly complex decisions — such as when to split pairs against certain counts — while Martinez and Rosa graded his play from across the room.
He was hooked and soon became one of the team's premier players.
Personally, he didn't have problems with the ethics of the venture.
It's no different than the stock market.
We use our brains to earn a profit.
And it isn't cheating.
He knew that others wouldn't understand.
A Lewis classmate who decided against joining the team put voice to Lewis' concerns.
I didn't care that it wasn't technically illegal.
It just felt wrong.
There was so much about it that seemed so shady.
Individual bankrolls in the hundreds of thousands.
Limousines with fully stocked minibars.
Casino hosts offering carte blanche in a city that had built its reputation on easy access to a thousand different forms of sin.
For a group of young math and engineering geeks, this was heaven on earth.
In the beginning, Rosa ran the team like a business, enforcing stringent rules against alcohol, fraternizing with the local fauna, any extracurriculars that didn't involve blackjack felt and hi-lo ratios.
But as the real money began to pour in, Lewis and his teammates broke out, starting their own squads with their own capital.
Lewis hands me a Ziploc bag.
I went to the bathroom and pulled it out.
The more mit blackjack team names played, the more certain the profits.
A bunch of us were sitting around the pool at the Mirage, and I had a duffel bag under my lounge chair.
I was 22 years old.
What the hell was I going to do with that kind of money?
Things were getting too easy: With each mega-casino that opened on the Vegas landscape, the pot of potential riches seemed to grow bigger.
Other card-counting teams were cropping up at an alarming rate, some reportedly having as many as 100 members.
At major casino openings, it wasn't unusual to see read more of Spotters working the same pit.
Sooner or later, Lewis felt, someone was going to notice what they were doing.
The paranoia, it turns out, was justified.
With the mega-resorts learn more here a new influx of corporate money — and a corporate sense of cautiousness.
The new casinos had billion-dollar price tags; Vegas had more to lose than ever before.
The Heat My first few days in Las Vegas, I get a small taste of the new paranoia.
I awake one morning to discover that my laptop has been stolen out of my locked hotel room while I slept.
The next afternoon, I meet with Beverly Griffin, head of the Griffin Detective Agency, the leading "intelligence provider" to the gaming community worldwide.
She agrees to see me — but wants to meet in a crowded outdoor café adjacent to the Paris hotel — a chaotic public setting.
It's impossible to use a tape recorder, or otherwise get her words on permanent record.
We've got agents working 24 hours a day, covering every shift at every hotel.
If someone wins a bunch of money, leaves one casino, and walks down the street to another, you can be sure we'll have someone watching him when he gets there.
The Griffin Agency has spent more than mit blackjack team names decades developing new methods of gathering and relaying that information, acting as the eyes, ears, and arms of nearly every casino on earth.
In the beginning, it was all about the human element: agents following suspects across the casino floor, identifying them from grainy stills taken by security cameras hidden above mit blackjack team names gambling pit — the familiar Eyes in the Sky.
Using these photos — and thousands of hours of investigative legwork — Griffin was able to compile a legendary facebook, providing photos, names, aliases, known accomplices, even home addresses and phone numbers of people who win too much too often.
Anyone who ended up in the Griffin Book was in danger of being barred from any casino that employed the agency — that is, if someone on the casino floor was lucky enough to notice the offender and make a facebook match.
In the beginning, it was just this sort of luck — or old-fashioned detective work — that broke the biggest card counters.
We'd been watching him at Caesars, and we couldn't figure out how he was winning.
Then one afternoon, my husband went to a tennis match and saw Uston sitting in the stands.
Next to him were a few other people my husband recognized from the tables at Caesars — people Uston had pretended not to know.
We realized they had been spotting, and figured the whole thing out.
Do two seemingly unrelated players always appear in the same casinos at the same time?
Did a consistent winner and a pit boss once share a phone number?
Because in a casino, these things can go bad very, very fast," explains Griffin.
It literally broadcasts TV-quality visuals.
Some guy will sit down at a card table with this camera attached to his sleeve, an antenna on his back, and a lithium battery in his belt, and broadcast the image to a van outside with a satellite dish.
A guy in the van will slow down the video so you can actually see the cards that flash by during a shuffle.
Members of the MIT team tell me about a group that tags the high cards in a deck with minute traces of radioactive isotopes.
Team members wear Geiger counters attached to their knees, getting positive readings when the high cards come out of the shoe.
There's another tale link a scammer who marks cards with ink that can only be seen with special red-filtered contact lenses.
Getting caught is no small affair.
Cheating at cards in Nevada can carry a sentence of up to 10 years.
Card counting, on the other hand, will merely get you kicked out of the casino for good.
But to Griffin and the surveillance establishment, the distinction between cheaters and counters is irrelevant.
They use the Internet to recruit each other, to share vulnerabilities of casinos and even specific dealers, and they are always searching for ways to gain an unfair advantage over the house.
The irony is that a bad counter often will play a more negative game than a solid player who is simply using basic strategy.
One mistake per hour obliterates a counter's advantage, and two an hour is more costly than not counting at all.
According to Andrew Tay, casinos know this and so rather than automatically ejecting a known counter, they'll "watch his play, track his wins and losses, and if he's identified as a bad counter, they'll comp him a room, make him feel like a king, and laugh as his 'positive' game slowly bleeds him dry.
online blackjack hot were too mit blackjack team names at what they did, too smart to remain unnoticed forever.
By the end of the decade, Griffin was onto them.
Sooner or later, someone gets cold feet.
Or someone gets greedy.
Perhaps my paranoia wasn't misplaced.
The Fall "I still remember the first time I got barred," Kevin Lewis says.
I had just sat down to play.
Then these two guys in suits came up behind me.
One of them pushed my money out of the circle.
Then he tried to get me to go downstairs to the basement of the casino with him.
I ran right out of there.
There's a widescreen TV, a fully stocked bar, leather couches, and a picture window overlooking the twinkling neon strip.
This is one of four "celebrity suites" spread out across Las Vegas that Lewis has access to this evening, all complimentary, arranged by various casino hosts who know nothing about his past.
All they see are the dollar signs on his bankroll, and the action he's willing to put down at the tables.
It's not enough to be rich.
You've also got to be willing to play.
He had been playing all night at the high-stakes tables and had returned to his room sometime after 2 in the morning.
There was a loud knock on the door, someone identifying himself as hotel security.
Martinez grabbed his duffel bag full of chips and tried to find someplace to hide.
When they found him, he was lying in the bathtub, the duffel clenched to his chest.
They took him to the basement.
Then they asked me to sign something that said I would never return to the hotel.
They can't legally do anything to you, so they try and scare you.
They read you the trespass act — if you return to the casino in the future, you'll be trespassing, and then they can arrest you.
The group had traveled to play the riverboat casinos — replicas of 19th-century paddle wheelers — located on the Red River.
The first stop was a place called the Horseshoe, a 25-story hotel attached to a garish floating casino.
About halfway through the evening, Lewis was walking by one of the blackjack pits when he saw something that caught his eye.
There were pages coming off the fax, dark with ink.
I got a little closer and saw one of the guys pull off a page full of pictures.
I knew we were in deep trouble.
The suits followed, chasing him all the way outside.
Running for the car, Lewis had a moment of pure terror.
Is anyone going to notice if some Asian kid disappears in Shreveport, Louisiana?
In Griffin's words, someone had gotten greedy.
Still in their mid-twenties, Lewis and his friends were fast becoming dinosaurs.
They were even coming after our Spotters.
After Shreveport, Martinez and Fisher formed their own group and continue today to hit the casinos on a monthly basis.
Lewis decided to go it on his own, forming an alliance mit blackjack team names Jill Thomas and Andrew Tay.
Although he has no proof, Lewis suspects that the robbery had something to do with the MIT team.
Maybe someone on the inside sold out — or perhaps one of the cats was trying to send the mice a little message.
Either way, Lewis decided he had had enough.
When, just two months after the robbery, he was audited by the IRS, he made the decision to stop playing professionally.
But it just click here worth it anymore.
The double life had gotten too difficult.
The Player Rock music blares in my ears as I trail Lewis through the Hard Rock casino.
I wade through — and in truth, at the moment I fit right in.
My hair is slicked back.
My shirt is open two buttons at the neck.
A borrowed charcoal-colored Armani jacket drapes over my shoulders like a cape.
I try to mimic the way Lewis moves through the casino.
I copy his swagger, walking in long strides as if my cock runs halfway down my leg.
Like the casino itself, I am cool, I am hip.
I pretend I am rich enough to be strolling toward the high-stakes blackjack pit, rich 7 cards blackjack rules to smile at the dealers and wink at the cocktail waitresses.
He drops onto one of the stools, gesturing for me to sit next to him.
I cough, breaking character, and Lewis smiles.
The cards start to come out, and I settle into the game, playing basic strategy like Lewis has taught me.
Ten minutes pass in near silence.
His head is cocked to the side, his face relaxed, his eyes barely moving.
It takes me a moment to realize that, indeed, he is watching the cards — through the reflection in my whiskey glass.
I start to follow him more carefully, raising my own bet with his.
OK, he seems to tell me.
Over the next hour, I am treated to a display of pure talent.
I look up and see two men approaching from the other side of the high-stakes pit.
Both are wearing dark suits with stiff lapels, and the taller of the two is talking into a cell phone.
I see Lewis gathering up his chips, and I start to do the same.
The dealer asks if we want to cash out, but before either of us can answer, one of the suited men steps forward.
Lewis, can we speak to you for a moment?
I feel a mixture of fear and pride as the two men in suits begin to escort us out of the blackjack area.
He has heard this before.
The suit spreads his hands, palms out.
He sees Kevin Lewis as a threat to his casino, a danger to his bottom line.
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MIT Blackjack Scariest Moments


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Going back to Dustin Hoffman in “Rain Man” or sensationalized tales of the MIT blackjack team, card counting stories tend to be nerd-revenge.


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