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Math Movies Games

The Real MIT Blackjack Mastermind 195

Posted by samzenpus
from the king-of-counting dept.
Wade Roush writes "21, the top movie at the box office last weekend, has everyone talking about the real identities of the MIT blackjack team members fictionalized in the movie and in the 2002 book, Bringing Down the House, on which the film is based. Last week a number of stories pointed to former MIT student and Las Vegas resident John Chang as the model for the Micky Rosa character, the club mastermind played in the movie by Kevin Spacey. But Boston-area Internet entrepreneur and real estate developer Bill Kaplan is saying that if anyone is the basis for Micky Rosa, it's him. Turns out Kaplan now battles the "e-mail churn" problem as CEO of Newton, MA, startup FreshAddress, which helps companies correct the outdated e-mail addresses in their customer databases."
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The Real MIT Blackjack Mastermind

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @07:31PM (#22946694)
    Turns out Kaplan now battles the "e-mail churn" problem as CEO of Newton, MA, startup FreshAddress, which helps companies correct the outdated e-mail addresses in their customer databases."

    Translation: Kaplan now helps marketers/spammers share your address so that when you associate your new address with your same other information, they can continue to market to/spam you.

    Yeah, right, that's a job that's gonna get you a lot of respect here on /.
  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @07:41PM (#22946764) Homepage Journal
    I think you meant scam.

    And counting cards is in no way scamming.

    It's just playing the game the way a scientist should, not the typical "mystical" way that most people do.

    Maybe in a hundred years "luck" will be an outmoded concept and gambling will been seen properly as "entertainment" but until then, most every idiot who goes to a casino is a mystical moron who thinks he's going to get lucky and win.

  • by bskin (35954) <bentomb@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @08:33PM (#22947120)
    Card counting isn't a scam, but some of the tricks they used to keep the house from twigging to what they were doing comes pretty close -- disguises, aliases, having lookouts stationed at different tables waiting for a hot deck, at which point they'd signal a team-mate to come over and law down the big bucks.

    No, it's really no more of a scam or criminal act than, say, encrypting your email. There's nothing wrong with obscuring what you're doing.
  • by _KiTA_ (241027) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @08:33PM (#22947122) Homepage

    Card counting isn't a scam, but some of the tricks they used to keep the house from twigging to what they were doing comes pretty close -- disguises, aliases, having lookouts stationed at different tables waiting for a hot deck, at which point they'd signal a team-mate to come over and law down the big bucks.
    None of that sounds overly disingenuous to me -- all of that sounds like standard teamwork and strategy. The casinos are just upset that someone is outsmarting them, and have enough money themselves to make an issue of it.

    I see a remarkable parallel between them and the *AAs, actually. Both are large monolithic companies who make a rather large amount of money with archaic business practices and are reliant on their customers being ignorant. And both of them have epic class A freakouts when someone smart enough to see through them tries to outsmart them.
  • by Thugthrasher (935401) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @08:34PM (#22947130)
    They only did that because the casinos want to make more money and so will throw people out who are playing the game in a way that improves their chances. They have the right to throw them out, but that's why they had to disguise themselves.
  • by vinn01 (178295) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:11PM (#22947354)
    Also, a reason everyone isn't doing it - is because it's so easy to get detected and blackballed from every casino in town.

    After sitting at a table placing small bets for hours, you're going to attract a lot of attention if you start betting big money (because the shoe became 'hot') in hopes of making up for all the hands you spent losing money while you waited for the hot shoe.

  • by cruelfood (951773) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:14PM (#22947374)

    No, it's really no more of a scam or criminal act than, say, encrypting your email. There's nothing wrong with obscuring what you're doing.
    Except that according to Bringing Down the House, they had been told not to come back to some of the casinos, and were using disguises to avoid being thrown out again. They were tresspassing, which is a criminal act.

    But I agree that team blackjack play can't be considered a scam, especially the part about having spotters waiting for a hot deck. If the casino offers a game where the player has the advantage, a savvy player will take advantage of that. The casino can always change the rules of the game, or choose not to offer it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:02PM (#22947670)
    Nah I doubt it. I actually do know one of the players and he is about as different from Doc as conceivable. Doc's post history is typical slashdot anti-corporate/fascist diatribe, while the guy I know is essentially a corporate fascist who joined a secret syndicate of con artists to scam money from schmucks.
    The only thing bigger than his brain is his ego, and I guarantee you he would not associate with someone with as socialist a worldview as this poster.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2008 @02:25AM (#22948894)
    The "right way" is to stay away from normal play. The New England casinos run various games, and when the tables are slow, they'll announce a change in the odds at a particular table to draw in players. You switch tables and play _there_, where the odds are better, and it helps your card counting quite a lot.

    Did the books mention the blonde, big-buted Mormon girl Wendy form Senious House dorm at MIT who was on the team? She would wear slinky outfits and wildly changed hair colors and distract the pit bosses while the rest of the team played for hard money. She also had a real thing for motorcycles, and believed that sex didn't count as a sin if you were drunkk when you did it. (Her Mormon parents worried about the gambling, but it was paying her tuition. I don't think they knew about the drunk part.)

    I had a Harley, and met her at the Steer Roast party at her dorm. There's nothing like a busty, happy blonde drunk out of her gourd and happy to have something rumbling between here legs, hanging on tightly and swaying from drunkenness. Her being a lot smarter than me and having plenty of money made it even better.

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