Blackjack teams are groups of professional blackjack players that work together using advanced card techniques to maintain a positive expectation. This indicates that for each $100 wagered, the team expects a return of greater than $100. As a result, over the long term, these groups can win large amounts of money. The most common techniques used include:
- Card counting
- Shuffle tracking
- Hole carding
Card counting is keeping track of the cards played to determine whether the shoe is holding more high-value cards. Shuffle tracking occurs when a player identifies the location of aces or groups of cards in the deck during shuffling. Hole carding is getting a quick view of the dealer’s covered hole card which can help you determine the best move possible.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Blackjack Team is infamous for beating the house in Las Vegas. However, they were not the first blackjack team to attempt to break the bank. The MIT team expanded on ideas implemented by previous blackjack teams. The reason the MIT team is so famous is they were active for over 12 years.
In 1979, J.P. Massar took a class at MIT entitled, “How to gamble if you must” in which a small segment featured card counting methods. For the next year, Massar created a team of students to gamble in Atlantic City to exploit the tips ascertained from the course. These actions were unsuccessful.
In 1980, Massar met with Bill Kaplan to discuss his successful blackjack team. The team became tired of playing in a single place so they branched out to Europe. Massar asked Kaplan to accompany him to Atlantic City to observe his team and discover what they were doing wrong. Kaplan realized Massar’s team was making fundamental blackjack mistakes. They were using different card counting techniques.
At this point, Kaplan agreed to form a team with the conditions that they would follow formal management procedures, strict training, a dedicated card counting system, meticulous casino tracking, and a player approval process. The team began with $89,000 and doubled their winnings within ten weeks. The players made $80 per hour and investors saw a return of 250 percent.
The MIT Blackjack Team took millions of dollars from casinos over many years utilizing the techniques ascertained by Kaplan. Over the past few years, this successful period has been revisited through books and the creation of a movie documenting the team’s success.