MIT Blackjack Team was a group of students from MIT, Harvard University that revolutionized the way blackjack had been played. The group of students from MIT and other leading colleges in the area played blackjack using the card counting techniques along with various other advanced techniques to take the casinos in US by storm.
For more than two decades starting from 1979, the group had been winning substantial profits by beating the casinos. It all started when MIT introduced a short course on gambling methods, particularly on card counting techniques in 1979. Several students who were already interested in casino games attended the course and learnt about this new technique.
Card Counting Techniques
The students then formed a group to use the technique in real life casinos and playing blackjack online. In the initial years, the group mostly played at the casinos in Atlantic City and their performance was not consistent. It was only when the co-founder J.P. Massar met Bill Kaplan that things changed for the group.
This new found team recruited students from the MIT campus by posting flyers in the area. All of the recruits had to go through a series of test to see if they were suitable for the team. The newly recruited members that passed the tests had to then get a training, which was provided for tree. Once trained, they had to again pass another test before going for advanced training and it was only after sufficient supervisions that the players were allowed to play in actual casinos.
The team made use of team play along with individual techniques. There were counters and big players in every team. The counters would keep a tab on the probabilities at the casino tables. When the probability was really high, the big player would be signaled and he would then play to win profits by placing large bets.
Apart from using the card counting techniques, the team also used other methods like ace tracking and advanced shuffles. Card counting on its own gave the players an edge of 2% while the other techniques used by the team gave them a total edge of around 4%.
Concept of team play
Al Francesco had been the one who originally developed the concept and team play strategies that were used by MIT team. He had been among the first seven people to be selected for the Blackjack Hall of Fame. Bill Kaplan, the person who was responsible for the turn around of the team had used Al Francesco's approach and had added techniques and strategies that he himself had learn after years of observation and research.
The concept of team play reduced the risk levels of the players and allowed them to make the most of their money and time at the casinos. Also, because of the team play used by the team, it was difficult for the casinos in the early years to detect the players.