Monday, June 26, 2006

BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE

It’s a story that our wildest dream and fantasies are comprised off… A hedonistic blend on fast cars, easy money and gorgeous people. It’s a dream that a small group OF MIT students in the USA made a hair-raising reality.

Now by the time we reach early adulthood, most people have at least one good gambling story to tell. Whether it is a blind luck win at a roulette wheel, a hit on a slot machine, winning a World cup soccer pool, but none can pony up to the story of Kevin Lewis, who by the time he was a Junior at MIT, Lewis, along with a small group of like-minded MIT classmates master minded one of the largest and most scandelous card-counting scams in history. The high stakes plan would garner them in upwards in three million dollars in blackjack winnings from casinos across the USA.

A book by Ben Mezrich accounts this enthralling true story and describes how this group of inexperienced young students perfected a method of card-counting and signaling techniques to take millions of dollars from casinos without attracting attention from pit bosses and owners.
Using a relatively simple system-each face card and ten that is dealt counts as negative one point, each card below a six counts as a positive one point, sevens, eights, and nines are neutral-the team members would keep a running total of the cards being dealt, determining the probability of drawing a high hand (the higher the count, the better probability that favorable cards would be drawn). All of this of course, is legal, as Lewis and his teammates did nothing to change the outcome of the game. They just paid very, very close attention to what was going on.

To ensure their plans where not foiled, the group of mostly mathematical nerds, went on a wild goose chase from one casino to the next so as to not draw too much attention to themselves. Ironically they became VIP guest at most establishments and would often pose as children of wealthy business men spending dad’s cash. It also became apparent that the casino’s where less skeptical about young Asians spending large amount of money than they where about a group of white kids, so all these subtle nuances where used to their advantage. VIP treatment came with the territory and included complimentary suites, meals, tickets to boxing matches, and any other perk the casino managers could think of to keep the high-rollers coming back.

The Vegas lifestyle with it bright lights and superficial highs and lows can be all consuming and for the young MIT students living the high life did become all too overwhelming. This was not at all surprising and soon their head, Kevin, a self-described math geek, found himself reveling in the life of his high roller alter ego. It's not hard to get comfortable with the good times when your days and nights are spent rubbing shoulders with celebrities and professional athletes and dating an NFL cheerleader.

Ultimately, it wouldn't be the players themselves that lead to the team's inevitable demise. After their first hit at the Native American run casino, Mohegan Sun, the casino offices enacted several measures to protect themselves against card-counters including banning players from entering a blackjack game mid-deck, and introducing new cutting and shuffling techniques that made it harder for players to spot specific cards. Compounding this was a private investigation firm called the Plymouth Agency, who was hired by one Las Vegas casino to track the activity of its patrons and hound out the card-counters.

After the beginning of the end, extreme paranoia swept through the group of players once they began to discover that the agency had cottoned on to them. Eventually the lavish lives that these kids lead began to tear at the seams and soon officials cracked down and ultimately dissolved the group.

One can’t help be intrigued by this larger than life story. The pumping adrenalin, the high life, the intoxicating elixir of winning a fat wad of cash and the intricate plan that unfolded on the bright city street of Vegas. You may not be ready for all that drama, but you can still experience the thrill of Black Jack, Piggs Peak internet casino offers a large variety of the Black Jack games that can be played in the comfort of your own home.. and just think about it, there will be no geeky MIT student lurking around either.


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