Card counting isn’t illegal, but it’s banned in most casinos because over time, the odds turn in the card counter’s favor. The casinos don’t like that. These Massachusetts Institute of Technology students didn’t care.
The MIT Blackjack Team started out as a handful of card-counting students in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, and ended in the early ‘90s with a roster of about 80 players gaming casinos worldwide.
Bankrolled by investors, MIT Blackjack Team members weren’t trained just to count cards; they were also trained in hand signals and learned to act as entirely different people to fool casinos into thinking they were exotic high rollers. One student took on the personality of a Russian arms dealer, while another shaved his head, put on a wig and dressed as a woman.
Using cash from shady investors, these students grossed undisclosed sum — possibly several million — from unsuspecting casinos until the best players were ferreted out and blacklisted. Eventually, the entire enterprise became too difficult to sustain.
Movies, television shows and books have been written about the MIT Blackjack Team, and to this day, many of the former members remain anonymous.