🤑 How a team of students beat the casinos - BBC News

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Aponte first played as a member of the MIT Blackjack Team in , In the big player team strategy, it is the BP that comes in and.


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Blackjack Expert Explains How Card Counting Works - WIRED

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Mike Aponte was invited to join the MIT Blackjack Team. Over its long and storied history, the team had developed sophisticated strategies for.


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Card Counting 101 - Mike Aponte - MIT Blackjack Team

I declared the cash I was carrying when I left the U. Mike: We saw virtually all the headline shows in Vegas. RS: What entertainment or sporting events that you attended stick out in your mind? The manager set the bag down on one of the tables and forgot to pick it up when practice was over. We never had a problem with the IRS. Martinez and I hung out with Vinny Pazienza a few times, who was a pretty good boxer back then. Their main goal was to provide entertainment for the guests, not to make money. That was one of the downfalls of Strategic Investments.{/INSERTKEYS}{/PARAGRAPH} Martin, Aruba, Puerto Rico, and Europe. They detained me until I persuaded them to call the Atlantis Casino to verify that I had won a lot of money playing blackjack. When we arrived we saw they had a few blackjack tables set up. Mike: As a player, everything was based on the expected value of your play. I was at that practice, and I remember that bag because it was very crinkled and old looking. Mike: Besides the Bahamas, we played in St. Mike: It was a bit dramatized, which was to be expected. If security ever found that much cash on one of us, they would have called the Drug Enforcement Agency, and we probably would have never seen the money again. I got a real kick out of it because he worked in with me for a few sets on the bench press, and I could actually lift more weight than he could. You have to be careful when you play overseas. The simulator would play out that exact scenario millions of times, and give us the expected value. That was when the administration at MIT first learned about our blackjack team. Mike: I was recruited to play on the team in At the time, the team was actually a legal entity called Strategic Investments SI. There had been students from MIT who played blackjack together as early as , but when SI was formed in , it was very significant because the team was a million dollar company with big plans. Mike: Just guessing, but at least 50 times. Mike: No one ever passed the checkouts on the first try. {PARAGRAPH}{INSERTKEYS}Mike Aponte was one of the foremost members of the infamous MIT blackjack team. Was that a true story? Luckily I played under my real name, which made my winnings verifiable. Whenever we put a large amount of chips through the x-ray machine, they always pulled the bag aside to inspect it. On Chinese New Year he invited us to a private party in Chinatown. When he refused they said they had no choice but to throw him in jail. At practices we would often transfer money from a recent trip or receive money for an upcoming trip. Martinez, Kevin Lewis and I had a friend who was king of the Asian nightclub scene. Players had their expenses covered and were paid a percentage of the EV that they generated. RS: That leads to my next question, as mentioned in the book, did you really get the strippers to cash in the chips for the team? Advanced strategy techniques sound sexy and appealing, but they are very difficult to execute, and these days the opportunities to employ these strategies are few and far between in the US. I am one of a couple of people who knows exactly what certain events in the book were derived from. When Mike Tyson got out of jail it was a big boost for the team. I met him only once, in Las Vegas, the same year the book was published. The most I ever bet at one time was at the Mirage. Unfortunately the casino made him as a card counter, and he ended up getting thrown in jail. Mike: I find that part of the book really amusing. The only bad thing about winning that much money was having to bring it all home. The total number of people who played for the team was higher than that because we did have some turnover. People did, for whatever reason, stampede the casino floor. On one trip when I was lifting weights in the gym, Alonzo Mourning, the basketball player, walked in. There were also many times when I realized that I was made by the casino and I left before there was any trouble. With the help of a lawyer we were able to reclaim the money a few days later. Mike: When we really started doing well in , we were not an official entity, so we left it up to the players to take care of their own tax liabilities. It was unusual for a spotter to have more than three or four call-ins in a session, whereas the big player was involved in every call-in. I was a twenty-one year old carrying a lot of cash through the Caribbean so immediately customs thought it was drug money. How was the scene after that situation? Mike: The biggest win the team ever had in a trip was close to half a million dollars. I met Dennis Rodman in the elevator when he was with the San Antonio Spurs, before he became really flamboyant. Since cash was easily recognized by security through the x-ray machine, we always carried our money on our persons. There are parts which are completely fabricated. Using only their superior intellect and some cunning team methods, they triumphed on a stage where almost all other contenders had failed. RS: Besides counting, what were some of the other techniques the team employed at the tables? Mike: We made the vast majority of our money from card counting, but we did have some success with card steering and shuffle tracking. Mike is the son of a career member of the U. What struck me most about him was that he was such an incredibly nice guy. When they decided on a maximum bet of twenty-five dollars, we immediately started thinking of ways to get more money on the table. As the big player, I was responsible for remembering the total number of call-ins. I think what actually happened was a metal stand fell over and made a loud gunshot like noise. Boxing back then was really big. Army, and spent his youth living in many locations around the world. Unlike in the U. As far as the strippers, in contrast to what the book said, there was only one time that we, as a team, went to a strip joint. Mike is married, and resides in Los Angeles. There are some parts in the book where I just scratch my head because obviously Ben Mezrich, the author, took artistic liberties. He freaked out and then called the other managers, and they contacted campus police. It was a four-deck game, dealt almost to the last card. Did you or any other teammate ever get stopped? The police asked our teammate to give back the money he had won. If we had to carry a lot of chips we stored them in our carry-on bags. Everyone was betting at most five dollars, but we asked what the table maximum was. Most casino chips are made of a clay-like material, which shows up in the x-ray machine as a blob. We asked if we could back bet each other and they said yes. Mike: That would have to be in the Bahamas. In the middle of the night, when he realized he had forgotten the money, he rushed back to the room, but the bag was nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, SI failed due to shortcomings in how the team was managed. There was another player from our team who played in the Bahamas about a month after I did. Mike: Probably about twenty-five at our peak. Our teammate did spend a night in jail in the Bahamas and when Mickey played in Prague a casino cheated him by dealing him a short shoe. The casino and the police were in cahoots, playing good cop bad cop with the casino playing the role of bad cop. RS: What was the most money you personally carried through the airport? Typically we were all business in Vegas, but after that record win we had to go out on the town and celebrate. We had great seats for most of the championship fights. It turned out that the custodian had found the bag, and not knowing what to do with it, had put it in his locker overnight. Mike: Not that many, probably around 10 times. Blackjack tables were flipped over and people started grabbing up chips. Quality control was one of the key areas we improved on from Strategic Investments. In the summer of , Mickey, one of the managers from SI, decided to start a new team, one that he would hand pick. That was the weekend we won half a million in Vegas. The MIT team legally won millions of dollars playing blackjack in the mega-resorts of Las Vegas and other locations around the world. We looked back at what went wrong during Strategic Investments and decided to change our strategic approach, selectively recruit new members, and raise our standards for quality play. One time I did have a problem returning from the Bahamas. Mike Tyson and Oscar De La Hoya created more big weekends for our team and since the fights were such spectacles, it made it easy for us to fly under the radar. They tracked down the custodian who was responsible for cleaning the room that night.