The Blackjack Card Counting Team

Card counting in the game of Blackjack is not illegal but a casino can ban a player if he is found increasing his odds against the dealer by counting cards. One such sensation was created by the MIT Blackjack Team.

The MIT Blackjack Team was a group of students and alumni of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Columbia University, Harvard University, and other Ivy League colleges. They implemented card counting techniques and other sophisticated mathematical processes to increase their odds of winning against the house in casinos.

The team started its venture in 1979 and the wake of the 21st century. Many other teams were also operating on the same mode of operation such as the MIT team around the world. Blackjack is a game that has a lower probability of house edge and this is why it is the most played card game in casinos.

A skilled player can win at blackjack with a strategy such as knowing when to hit and when to stand. The team took the strategy up a few notches by skills as: –

    • Card counting
    • Tracking shuffling of cards
    • Hole carding


The obsession of players with card counting techniques started in the 1960s. Many players and mathematicians used to publish card counting techniques and casinos tweaked their rules to increase their odds of winning against these techniques. The New Jersey Casino Control Commission’s new ruling even banned card counters from entering into casinos and declaring card counting as cheating. But, the MIT team always devised new ways to circumvent them.

The whole point of counting cards is that low cards are not taken into consideration and high cards are sought by every player. The cards that have been revealed in the last shuffle cannot be at the top of the deck naturally. Therefore, by keeping the track of cards, a player can predict the value of cards that could come in the next deal. Thus, these people can know the probability of getting high cards such as an ace or a face card and increase their odds of winning.

The MIT Team


Six Residents of the Burton-Conner House of the coveted MIT implemented the technique of counting cards in 1979 to beat the casinos. They travelled to Atlantic City to test their theory during the spring break. After winning themselves a large sum of money, some of them graduated in the approaching summer semester and those who remained never played again.

A few members of the team expanded their group and maintained their interest in making their fortune. J.P. Massar and Jonathan belonged to the same group and started a course on blackjack. The course was offered as a part of the 1980 IAP or Independent Activities Period in which classes could be offered on any subject. In 1979, Massar was contacted by Dave, a professional blackjack player to get enrolled in the course and formed a group that played till the 1980s across Atlantic City and win their fortune.

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