21- Blackjack Team at Hollywood

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The MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) blackjack team is the most well-known card-counting team in the history. The players of this team are students who used to play with sophisticated card-counting techniques, like the “big payer” team strategy. The story of these clever students has been filmed.

The movie is called 21 and it has an amazing cast: Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth and Laurence Fishburne.

Expert players can gain a lot of money by playing Blackjack as it is the only casino table game where you can use playing strategies.

There are basic strategies to win every time. The player has to keep track of the number of high cards remaining in the desk, than he has a better chance to hit 21, but the question is, why do they need a team?

Easy, casino doesn’t really want to give away money. If there’s a suspicious player, the casino will probably forbid him to play again, but a team doesn’t have that problem, because every member has a precise role. You have a “big player”, who is the one who places the big bets and the others place just small bets so they can sit there and count the cards. When the count is right, they let the big player know that he can place the big bet and that’s why they’re not suspicious for the casino security.

The MIT wasn’t the first big player team, but it was the most famous and successful one. It was active from 1979 until the early 2000’s and they gained a lot of media attention. First Ben Mezrich wrote a book about the team, published in 2002. This book became immediately a bestseller. After a couple of years, the same author wrote a sequel which had a big success too. Later a documentary called Breaking Vegas came out on the History Channel and the Game Show Network made another documentary afterwards called Anything to Win. BBC instead made a critically acclaimed version of the story called Making Millions the Easy Way, which brings out also the mathematical aspect of the story.

The Hollywood movie 21 is based on Mezrich’s book. Mezrich is also a part of the screenplay. The director of the movie is Robert Luketic. Jim Sturgess plays the lead role, a MIT student, who’ll become the big player in the team. Kevin Spacey plays the math professor who leads the team and Laurence Fishbourne is the casino security man, who finds out that the team is bluffing. As usual, in a Hollywood film has to be a love story too.