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MIT Blackjack Team

MIT Blackjack Team

The MIT Blackjack Team, an illustrious group of talented students from MIT, Harvard, and other top-notch colleges, made their mark in history by employing a mix of card counting techniques and advanced strategies to outsmart casinos worldwide. Their success story, which spanned from 1979 to the early 21st century, has inspired many similar blackjack teams globally, all with the shared objective of beating the casinos at their own game.

The Genesis of the MIT Blackjack Team

The origin of the MIT Blackjack Team can be traced back to 1979 when six MIT students and residents of the Burton-Conner House decided to educate themselves in card-counting. Their initial foray into the world of professional gambling took them to Atlantic City during spring break, and despite experiencing a fair share of losses, the group's interest in card counting remained undeterred.

The Art of Card Counting

The underlying principle of card counting revolves around gauging the odds of getting a high card (10, J, Q, K, A) versus a low card (2, 3, 4, 5, 6). This knowledge enables players to improve their chances of winning by making informed decisions on when to hit and when to stand. While card counting has been explored since the early 1960s, the MIT team's innovative use of advanced computer models and statistical analysis revolutionized this strategy, elevating it to an exact science.

The First MIT Blackjack "Bank"

In late 1979, a professional blackjack player, Dave, connected with one of the MIT card-counting students, J.P. Massar, after noticing an advertisement for the blackjack course. Dave proposed forming a new team to exploit a recent ruling by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission that prohibited Atlantic City casinos from banning card counters. The new team, comprising four players, a professional gambler, and an investor, embarked on their journey to Atlantic City in late December, armed with a capital of $5,000.

The Meeting of Minds - "Mr. M" and Bill Kaplan

In May 1980, J. P. Massar, known as "Mr. M", overheard a conversation about professional blackjack in a Cambridge-based Chinese restaurant. The speaker was none other than Bill Kaplan, a Harvard MBA graduate who had successfully run a blackjack team in Las Vegas a few years prior. Intrigued, Mr. M introduced himself to Kaplan, and the two decided to join forces, creating a new team that would revolutionize the world of blackjack.

MIT Blackjack Team's Legendary Earnings

The MIT team's success was nothing short of extraordinary. Among their many wins, one of the most notable was their victory in Las Vegas, where they reportedly made over $400,000 in a single weekend. Their methodical approach to card counting allowed them to predict when the cards being dealt would work in their favor. This strategy, coupled with their mathematical prowess, enabled them to strategically place their bets and rake in substantial winnings.

The MIT Blackjack Team's Most Successful Players

The MIT Blackjack Team comprised many exceptional individuals, but some players stand out for their significant contributions. Among those was Jeff Ma, who swiftly became one of the team's top players, helping the team win around $5 million during his seven years with the team. Another notable member, John Chang, stated that the average yearly earnings for a player on the team were $25,000, a figure significantly lower than the $300,000+ earnings showcased in the movie "21".

The Downfall and Legacy of the MIT Blackjack Team

Like all good things, the MIT Blackjack Team's golden run had to come to an end. By 1984, the team's leader, Kaplan, had become so recognizable that he found it increasingly challenging to continue playing. Eventually, around 2000, the MIT teams ceased their operations, and the players transitioned into other careers.

Despite their eventual disbandment, the MIT Blackjack Team's legacy lives on. Their story continues to inspire countless individuals worldwide, demonstrating that with the right mix of skill, strategy, and determination, it's possible to beat the odds and make a fortune.


The story of the MIT Blackjack Team is one of courage, determination, and intellectual prowess. They leveraged their mathematical and strategic skills to outsmart casinos and earn millions. Today, their legacy serves as a testament to the power of strategy and teamwork, inspiring countless others to dream big and defy the odds.

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