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IN People ON 15 Jun, 2016
Gambling is a sin and I BET you can give it up. We all love placing bets and winning money at casinos but what if there was a 100% guarantee of winning. Yes, I know what I am talking about, you'll be surprised to know that a group of MIT students was successful at beating some of the biggest casinos worldwide by playing Blackjack.
The students, by using mathematics techniques, were able to win some of the biggest games.
A skilled player can easily win a game of Blackjack. Players can use various methods like card counting, shuffle tracking or hole carding to improve their odds. Since the 1960s, a lot of card counting schemes have been published and the casinos have also adjusted the rules of play in order to counter some of the most popular methods.
It was during 1980 that six MIT students and residents of the Burton-Conner house taught themselves card counting. The students from MIT were not the first to count cards but they used their math expertise and advanced computer models to master the art of fooling casinos.
It was in May 1980 that J.P Massar, a card counting student was sitting at a Chinese restaurant and he overheard a conversation about professional Blackjack. He then introduces himself to the person speaking, the person was Bill Kaplan who was a Harvard MBA graduate and who had run a successful Blackjack team in Las Vegas three days earlier from then. Kaplan had earned more than 35 fold rate of return in less than 9 months.
With the casinos booming up and a lot of new casinos opening up, Kaplan decided to go big as well. His friends and partners who had seen a 100% return on small investments earlier decided to form a company and summed up an amount of $1 million to fund the new company which was named "Strategic Investments." The company taught bright students the method of card counting and gambling. One of these students was Mike Aponte who had no idea about what to do with his life.
Many worried about being caught but Aponte thinks it was not at all something to worry about. He explains that while going out he would get a pat on the shoulder from the security guard and the guard used to say "Mike, the casino management has decided that you are welcomed to play any game except the blackjack". Most of the students decided to stay anonymous till date.
Aponte recalls that math skills were not a problem for anybody at MIT but what was important was being comfortable because you are always under surveillance. Everyone had to learn how to deal with attention because money naturally just attracts a lot of attention.
Mike remembers one new team member who had just passed all the tests to act as a big player but the only problem was his face because he didn't look like a big player. He wore thick glasses and had a very meek personality although he was really smart - he was a Ph.D. guy. He had just got married and decided to give the casinos of the Bahamas a visit along with his wife. He was up about $30,000 and then the casino figured that he was card counting. They immediately called the police and confiscated all the money. It was only then that the MIT blackjack team came into light.
After the team came into the light, a lot of movies like the movie "21" starring Kevin spacey was based on the MIT blackjack team. Card counting is not illegal but some casinos don't allow it and card counters won't win every time but statistically and over time the odds are in their favour.
You can learn card counting online at various sites.