Blackjack Stories

The world of Blackjack is intriguing and interesting. Not only because of the game itself, but also because of the stories surrounding it. If you stay long enough in the casino, around the Blackjack table you can watch, first hand, some really notorious, outrageous scenes. Some of the stories remain around the table they occurred in, others turn famous and, in a way, make history. This article will share with you some of the more famous Blackjack stories, but also stories that I have watched first hand and will never be published otherwise.

The first story I will tell you about is also the most famous, and exciting one. Have you watched the excellent movie '21'? If so, you became familiar with the MIT Blackjack Team who used clever card counting and mathematical techniques to reverse the house edge and win millions of dollars in the Blackjack tables.

The team was founded in 1980 by MIT graduates J.P. Massar and Bill Kaplan. It was run like any other financial establishment, with investors, an organized recruitment process, KPIs and other characteristics of a well managed business operation.

Members of the team were recruited throughout leading campuses in the US, then trained to excel in card counting and had to go though a test, where they had to play flawlessly, while using card counting techniques, before they could actually participate in the team's casino raids.

The team operated for around 10-15 years. During these years it has included as many as 80 players. Some of the more active members of the team changed, when their faces became too familiar in casinos and they were barred from the establishments.

Most importantly, the MIT team proved to the world of gambling that the house edge can be reversed and that it is possible to make real money at the casino tables.

Another interesting story demonstrates how successful tightly run secretive consortiums can turn the whole game of Blackjack in their favour.

Josh Axelrad recently published a book on his experiences and methods on the subject of card counting. Once again, like the MIT team, he created his own tightly knit consortium under the name of Mossad. This is not unusual for any consortium in gambling except that Josh's approach was more akin to that of a trading firm.

In his book 'Repeat Until Rich: A Professional Card Counter's Chronicle Of the Blackjack Wars', he accounts how it all started when he met Garry Knowles who once represented the infamous MIT team. Josh learned from the horse's mouth so to speak how to get an effective edge on the casinos and master the art of card counting.

Josh won $18,000 in just ten minutes. For his team, he won a total of $700,000 and for himself maintained a steady income of $120,000 for many years.

Not all stories end up with hundreds of thousands in earnings. Some may end up pretty bad for the bettors. We would like to share with you a story that ended in a less glamorous manner.

In one of my excursions at the Blackjack table in a famous casino in Las Vegas I sat next to a young man. He had a nice stack of chips in front of him, and it seemed like he knows the game very well and has a very good game plan. When I first arrived at the table it also seemed like he had a nice winning streak and was doing quite well. Then after a while he started losing. The stack of chips decreased more and more.

Then after a while, just before the stack was completely finished a woman arrived at the casino. She came to the young man and started yelling at him with an uncontrollable rage. It turned out that the young man was very young. He was a 14 years old boy that came with his family to a holiday in Las Vegas. He sneaked out of his parents’ hotel room, with almost all the money they had saved for the trip and wasted it all at the Blackjack table.

Casino executives arrived at the table and took the angry mother and terrified son to the side. I don't know how this story ended, but it couldn't have ended well for the boy.

One last Blackjack tale also comes from my trips to Las Vegas Casinos. One night I sat in a bar at one of the Strip hotels. After a while a couple, man and wife sat next to me. We started talking and they told me what had happened to them just one night before at the casino.

It appears that the husband was a relatively skilled Blackjack player. He used to play the game with his pals every other weekend. The wife, on the other hand had nothing to do with the game, prior to their trip to Vegas.

Upon their arrival to the City of Sins, the husband hit the tables, while his wife went on a shopping spree at the city's shopping malls. They spent the entire day apart both one spending, the other losing their money.

On the next day the wife told her husband she will not be willing to spend any more time apart on their vacation and that from now on she will accompany him to the tables. In order to stay entertained she also started playing 21. As it turned out she was a much more talented and fortunate player then her husband. So by the end of that day, she had earned close to $5,000, while he had lost almost $4,000. Needless to say that the husband was reluctant to ever come back to the table and experience that same humiliation again. His wife, however came back to the table, and won an additional $1,000, playing what had become her favourite game.