Bringing the House Down

The brilliant blackjack players from MIT played as a team it was harder for casinos to spot them. It is much easier to spot a single card counter that’s working alone than a team of card-counting blackjack players. The team consisted of three types of players – Spotters, Gorillas, and Big Players (BP).

The spotter was a member of the MIT Team that didn’t bet beyond the minimum limit of the table. His job was simply to count cards, it was a job assigned to new members of the team before moving up in the ranks. When he was assured that the decks were in his favor he signaled other members of the teams – and then they entered the game with their big bankroll.

The Gorilla was a player that only played; such online players were not responsible to count cards. When they saw a Spotter signaling them they entered the table with large amounts of money and they gambled till they got a second signal that told them that the odds are not in their favor. The gorilla was half a player half a performer – he pretended to be a high roller and dressed and acted accordingly. Sometimes they pretended to be drunk. This scheme did nicely since the casinos did not ‘count’ them as card counters.

The Big Player was actually an improved “Gorilla” type player: he could bet and count at the same time. The MIT Team’s Big Players were elegant card counters in disguise as stylish high rollers. Not only did they count cards while playing they were also smart enough to adjust their techniques to use Doubling Down, Splitting pairs, and Doubling after Splitting blackjack options, which weren’t much in use by card counters. This boosts their bankroll tremendously.

Since the MIT Team had an oriental appearance their Big Players and Gorilla could play hands of $1,000 each without being suspected by pit bosses throughout Las Vegas. They were Asian, Greek, or attractive women. What pit boss would suspect a lovely young lady that wears too much make-up that she had gone through severe training at fake blackjack tables in Boston? The huge success caused the MIT Team of blackjack counters to have many troubles. They had to transport their wins over the state border without being detected. Many times they simply stuck packs of $100 bills in their inner pockets or taped the packs to their body underneath their clothes.

The MIT Team scooped millions of dollars of blackjack tables across Las Vegas and soon enough the Griffin Investigation Company, which works for casinos all over the world, was onto them. Soon, one by one, all members of the MIT Blackjack Team were barred from casinos. In 1997 the MIT Team split and the members continued to scoop money off blackjack tables across the US. Ben Mezrich, one of the members of the MIT team wrote a book about this episode in the history of blackjack. His book, “Bringing Down the House”, is now being filmed and in 2006 it would reach the screens. The movie is being directed by Kevin Spacey and surprisingly enough MGM financed it, maybe they are trying to gain the lost money that Ben Mezrich and his team took from them.

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