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The Real MIT Blackjack Mastermind

samzenpus posted about 6 years ago | from the king-of-counting dept.

Math 195

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now battles the "e-mail churn" problem as CEO of Newton, MA, startup FreshAddress, which helps companies correct the outdated e-mail addresses in their customer databases."

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195 comments

What kind of job is that? (5, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | about 6 years ago | (#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now battles the "e-mail churn" problem as CEO of Newton, MA, startup FreshAddress, which helps companies correct the outdated e-mail addresses in their customer databases."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 /.

Re:What kind of job is that? (2, Funny)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 6 years ago | (#22946706)

From one scan to another... At least he is consistent.

But at least the first one (0)

Chmcginn (201645) | about 6 years ago | (#22946762)

was a mildly interesting probability problem.

Re:But at least the first one (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22947244)

Your sig is a mildly interesting psychological problem too.

1 Corinthians 6:7-10, Romans 1:26-27, and 1 Timothy 1:10.

Is it wishful thinking on your part? Self Delusion? Or just plain old schizophrenia which separates your revisionist dichotomy from the rest of the Christian faithful? Truly, whether your homosexual agenda is driven by a chemical imbalance or biological deficiency, the scope of such self absorbed cries for public acceptance mixed in with erroneous proselytizing strikes me as borderline mental distemper. But, you do get high marks for convincing yourself though.

Re:But at least the first one (-1, Offtopic)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 6 years ago | (#22947314)

Your sig is a mildly interesting psychological problem too.
1 Corinthians 6:7-10, Romans 1:26-27, and 1 Timothy 1:10.

Depends on your definitions. Those are the letters of Paul, which are not technically gospel; but are rather commentary on the gospel.

Uh, what does this have to do with the topic?

Re:But at least the first one (-1, Troll)

focoma (865351) | about 6 years ago | (#22948404)

Let everybody mod me off-topic, but I don't know how the heck you were modded informative. The sig said "...mentioned in the New Testament...", which is where those passages came from. Or is there a New Improved and Highly Abridged New Testament, containing only the Gospel of the Cafeteria Christian, which narrates how Jesus was only a peace-loving hippie who just wanted us all to get along and embrace each other?

Re:But at least the first one (0, Offtopic)

Bottlemaster (449635) | about 6 years ago | (#22948504)

Or is there a New Improved and Highly Abridged New Testament, containing only the Gospel of the Cafeteria Christian, which narrates how Jesus was only a peace-loving hippie who just wanted us all to get along and embrace each other?
The Gospels (in the sense used by the GP) are the books of the New Testament which tell of the story of Christ's life. These are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Corinthians, Romans, and 1 Timothy are not Gospel.

Re:But at least the first one (-1, Offtopic)

focoma (865351) | about 6 years ago | (#22948778)

These are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

No shit! But we are talking about Chmcginn's sig, which claims that homosexuality isn't mentioned in the New Testament. Paul's epistles, which are part of the New Testament, mentions homosexuality, thus disproving Chmcginn's claim.

It's awfully awkward to explain this, but my remark about The New and Improved New Testament(TM) was meant to be sarcastic. It seemed to me as if Geoffrey.landis thought that the Gospels are the only books worthy of the New Testament, or he thinks Paul's writings aren't as "true" as the Gospels (hint: they're all part of the Holy Scriptures, as compiled by the Church). This to me seemed like an awful simplification of Christianity (read: "Cafeteria Christianity"), where one could pick and choose which books in the Bible to trust, based on one's own biases. Hence the sarcastic remark.

Damn, this is getting crazy. Mod this thread down, please!

Re:But at least the first one (-1, Offtopic)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 6 years ago | (#22948876)

No shit! But we are talking about Chmcginn's sig, which claims that homosexuality isn't mentioned in the New Testament. Paul's epistles, which are part of the New Testament, mentions homosexuality, thus disproving Chmcginn's claim.

Regardless, it still holds true that the Bible mentions the evils of eating pork rather more than it mentions bumlove.

Re:But at least the first one (4, Funny)

kclittle (625128) | about 6 years ago | (#22947334)

/. should allow for a special "Holier Than Thou Anonymous Coward" by-line to make folks like the parent AC feel more welcome...

Re:But at least the first one (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22947356)

Yes, it is mentioned in the New Testament. I believe it is correct to say that it is not mentioned in any Gospel, however. Further, since every single New Testament comment on the subject came from Paul, one might reasonably believe that this is merely his own personal bias creeping in.... Jesus had surprisingly little to say on the subject, IIRC. Feel free to prove me wrong, though.

BTW, IAN the OP, FWIW.

Re:But at least the first one (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 6 years ago | (#22948636)

Not really. It was interesting at one time, but by the time the MIT club was making its rounds, it had been solved for quite some time. The only really unique thing they did was to do it as a quasi-team effort, train as a team, and operate as a MIT club, with a faculty adviser (who was very poor with his advice*) and everything.

But more importantly, it really doesn't rise to the level of MIT interesting. The actual practice is just mechanical and rote, after all. There was never a question of whether or not it would work. Least of all the owners of the Casinos themselves (who even sell books on counting, knowing that few people have the discipline to pull it off)

*there shouldn't have been a club, because the theory is what's interesting at the MIT level, and that was well known. All that's left is the practice, and the practice was potentially very dangerous. At least they did it in Vegas, where the worst that can happen is to get banned from every casino in the network. As opposed to lower profile areas where they could potentially look forward to visits from the law offices of Bruiser, Slicer, Garrote and Gunn.

Re:What kind of job is that? (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | about 6 years ago | (#22946764)

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.

Re:What kind of job is that? (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | about 6 years ago | (#22947234)

And counting cards is in no way scamming.
A more accurate and ironic description would be "Gaming the system".

Re:What kind of job is that? (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | about 6 years ago | (#22947268)

Ironic because "system" == "game"? In which case your descriptor is "Gaming the game", which is not only redundant, but also retarded as that's what you're supposed to do.

Re:What kind of job is that? (5, Informative)

unlametheweak (1102159) | about 6 years ago | (#22947436)

Ironic because "system" == "game"?
The game in this case is the system, but more broadly it would be the Casino and it's practice of looking out for, and of banning card counters. These pros know it's a game (not just the Game of Blackjack), but a game of out-witting the house detectives. I don't see any redundancy here.

I will in fact "spell" it out to you. The irony lies in the term itself, and as it is applied here to card counters. The irony is also apparent in the fact that the casino's have already "gamed" the system against it's customers (from a profit perspective), especially considering that they can and will legally ban anybody whom they feel wins too much money.

The concept of "Gaming the system" is itself ironic (I hope I don't have to explain why):

Gaming the System means, simply, using the rules, policies and procedures of a system against itself for purposes outside what these rules were intended for.
- http://www.wikitruth.info/index.php?title=Gaming_the_system [wikitruth.info]

but also retarded as that's what you're supposed to do.
Not according to the Casino's, because if they find you doing this they will ask you to leave. So that's why most people in Casino's don't do this, because they have already been banned or don't want to go through the effort.

And BTW, Blackjack is fun for most people; nothing really too mystical here for me when I play it (on rare occasions). Granted their are fools who may think otherwise and lose their lifesavings in turn.

There's a right way and a wrong way to play BlackJ (5, Interesting)

raehl (609729) | about 6 years ago | (#22948026)

And BTW, Blackjack is fun for most people; nothing really too mystical here for me when I play it (on rare occasions). Granted their are fools who may think otherwise and lose their lifesavings in turn.
The right way is to use a printed table with Perfect Strategy (minimize losses), in Vegas (free drinks!) at the Wynn (fairly small house advantage), outside (fresh air) at the European-sunbathing (boobies!) pool, where there are only 12 tables (see cocktail waitress often = more free drinks!) that are right next to the bar (cocktail waitress travel distance is short = more free drinks!).

The wrong way would be to play "what feels lucky" (maximize losses) in Council Bluffs, IA (no free drinks) on a 6/5 blackjack table (big house advantage) on the floor (stale air, no boobies, senior citizens galor, annoying slot machine sounds, and infrequent cocktail waitress appearances.)

The one downside to the Wynn is you can't get to the pool unless you're a guest, and the rooms there are rather steep (but very very nice). You can mitigate that by losing a bunch of money when you play and then the rooms are not so steep anymore.

Re:There's a right way and a wrong way to play Bla (3, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | about 6 years ago | (#22948142)

You don't have to lose, you just have to lay it down.

Go to a blackjack table and throw down $80,000. When they've finished giving you your chips, play 2 hands of $5 then go to the cash out window. Watch as they give you a free room for being a "high roller".

Re:There's a right way and a wrong way to play Bla (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:What kind of job is that? (1)

nalagiri (1264178) | about 6 years ago | (#22948126)

actually the casino will only throw out card counters that they expect to beat the game. many if not most card counters are horrible players who are still expected to show a loss long term, the casino will let them play until they're broke.

Re:What kind of job is that? (5, Interesting)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | about 6 years ago | (#22948908)

Exactly right. It's pretty difficult these days to win with card counting, especially with six deck shoes, infinite shuffles, or two deck games that only deal out 2 hands before reshuffling.

The casinos are not going to kick you out for dumb luck, and they aren't going to kick you out if you seem to be card counting but aren't doing it very well. On the other hand, they will kick you out if they see perfect play (and remember, everything you do at the table is seen by the eye in the sky. It's not just the pit bosses who are reviewing your play).

Of course, it might have changed since I used to play a lot. Back in '00-'01 I'd go to Las Vegas at least twice a month, and I'd count cards. I wasn't perfect (I'd lose the count every so often), but I still generally won more than I lost. No big amount; it was just for fun.

Only once did they say anything, and that was a night at the Tropicana where I turned $80 into $1,300 (playing flawlessly, and getting a good chunk of luck to boot) Around 4am, the casino was mostly empty, and the pit boss seemed very interested in my table. I could see him looking at me and talking on the phone to . . . someone.

Eventually he came up to me and suggested that I go back to my room and get some sleep. That was all they said. I don't know if that really meant anything or not, but I was smart enough to get the hint. I said "You're right. I'm very tired", blacked out and left.

But at the level I've played at, I've never seen any real repercussions from the house. I've played a number of times at the Tropicana since then, and nobody has said anything to me.

Re:What kind of job is that? (2, Funny)

nephridium (928664) | about 6 years ago | (#22947542)

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.
Wanna bet on that?

Re:What kind of job is that? (5, Interesting)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 6 years ago | (#22946978)

Exactly how is card counting a "scam"? They're using mathematics to beat the game, legitimately. One would think that Slashdot readers would appreciate that.

(Also, read "The Eudaemonic Pie", about a shoe device to predict roulette. That one is at least illegal.. though someone on wikipedia claimed that the publication of the book is what got the law passed.)

Re:What kind of job is that? (1, Informative)

STrinity (723872) | about 6 years ago | (#22947060)

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.

Re:What kind of job is that? (5, Insightful)

bskin (35954) | about 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:What kind of job is that? (3, Insightful)

cruelfood (951773) | about 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:What kind of job is that? (1, Insightful)

_KiTA_ (241027) | about 6 years ago | (#22947122)

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.

Re:What kind of job is that? (2, Informative)

ushering05401 (1086795) | about 6 years ago | (#22947200)

"And both of them have epic class A freakouts when someone smart enough to see through them tries to outsmart them."

Or tries to start online businesses that challenge their dominance. I was making bank in online poker tourneys for a while there... oh well.

Re:What kind of job is that? (3, Funny)

Erpo (237853) | about 6 years ago | (#22947406)

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.

I agree. Casinos and the *AAs would work much better if they were made up of distinct processes that communicated via message passing rather than function calls.

Re:What kind of job is that? (2, Insightful)

Thugthrasher (935401) | about 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:What kind of job is that? (1)

sleigher (961421) | about 6 years ago | (#22947414)

Which I find interesting because they provide a don't pass bar on the craps table. This is basically the house bet, that you will not make your "point". It only pays one to one but has a higher percentage of winning than the roller getting the "point". Don't pass wins on 7 and 11.. loses on the point... pushes on 12. So they allow you to bet their bet which to me is gaming the game, but they don't let you count cards.

Re:What kind of job is that? (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 6 years ago | (#22947526)

gaming the game

It's no such thing. It's simply an offer to bet on an outcome that, just like all the other bets, has a negative expectation of gain. There are bets all over the table that can involve the shooter losing his pass bet: the "boxcars" bet, for example.

They don't let you count cards because, if you're good enough to do it right, it has a positive expectation of gain. If you do it poorly -- which you probably will, and they will know -- they'll treat you like a king.

Likewise the insurance bet in blackjack. If you take insurance, you're betting that everybody who doesn't have a blackjack will lose, and if the deck is not ten-heavy it's a losing bet.

rj

Re:What kind of job is that? (1)

sleigher (961421) | about 6 years ago | (#22947602)

I was only referring to the actual game and not the other bets. Coming out, get a point, roll that point or don't.

Re:What kind of job is that? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22946840)

But, but.. he went to MIT! He can't be evil!

If he wanted publicity in the geek community... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22946716)

which helps companies correct the outdated e-mail addresses in their customer databases.
this might not have been the best way to do it... The bastard.

Someone's not doing their job (1, Interesting)

pickyouupatnine (901260) | about 6 years ago | (#22946812)

Really guys... frontpage material?... This dumbass story? The guy gets free publicity cuz he claims to be some guy?

Blackjack professionals (4, Informative)

eebra82 (907996) | about 6 years ago | (#22946854)

More info on blackjack professionals can be found over at blackjack.org [blackjack.org]. They cover some info on the MIT team as well.

Re:Blackjack professionals (1)

Don_dumb (927108) | about 6 years ago | (#22948310)

There's more info (including a different MIT team, which was the one I thought of, when I read the summary). Is contained in this text of a Horizon episode.here [bbc.co.uk]

predicate nominative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22947020)

It's he.

The way to win is simple...the basics (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22947082)

When you have a 5-shoe, you must simply sum all the face cards on each deal and divide by the exponent of all the 2-9 cards. If you can memorize the log tables, you can do 90% of what you need to do. Separate out the face cards and regulars, do exponents while enjoying a drink. It isn't that hard, you just have to realize that you will only win about 1.5% of the time, so you are in it for the long haul. If you have some trusted friends, they can watch the other tables and see whos shoes have a higher number of face cards...then you move to that table and you can maybe make 3 or 4 percent. If you do it right, you can do some quality bets and make a couple grand in half an hour.
The "Real MIT Blackjack mastermind" just works out the rest of the 10% that has been a known quantity since the 1980s and lets you up your percent. You can ignore him and still make $10,000 a night.

Re:The way to win is simple...the basics (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22947208)

"oh look he used some fancy math terms +1 insightful/informative!"

Its just gobbledegook guys. :)

Card counting is overrated (5, Informative)

jorghis (1000092) | about 6 years ago | (#22947136)

Card counting is waaayyyyy overhyped in terms of effectiveness and profitibility. You (or your teammate if you are sneaky) have to sit there for a long time losing money waiting for a 'hot' shoe. A hot shoe really isnt all that hot either, think 51% in favor of the player. Then you have to bet huge in order to make up for all the time you sat there losing money. Do the math here for just one second, a 1% player advantage is about 10 dollars a hand winnings on average with a thousand dollar bet. In addition to all that hot shoes wont last for very long either, so dont go thinking "hey 10 bucks a hand for a few hours sounds pretty good to me". You will be doing good just to make up for all the hands your teammates spent losing money while you waited for a hot shoe.

Even these famous teams that everyone talks about werent really all that profitable. Sure, millions of dollars may sound like a lot but thats divided up among dozens of team members over the course of several years. It wasnt 5 guys over a few weekends like in the movie 21. Do the division a few times and it quickly becomes apparant that it really isnt worth it even if you discount the fact that you are risking a large sum of money in the endeavor. If you are going to get a lot of dedicated people together and put lots of money at risk you can do a hell of a lot better than playing blackjack.

It may make for good books, movies, etc. but if card counting was really all that effective vegas would be losing money to a brand new team every week. There is a reason everyone isnt doing it and its not because adding one for a face card and subtracting one for a low card requires 1337 math skills.

Re:Card counting is overrated (2, Interesting)

zIRtrON (48344) | about 6 years ago | (#22947238)

Agreed.
In my uni days, in Sydney, I used to go to the casino and play craps mainly, and if I won blackjack. Counting cards is waaaay over-rated as you say.
Betting on 6 & 8 paid well 11 times in a row which had me up a small fortune. But on the 12th and 14th visit, I "did my arse" as they say. I wasn't overly greedy, maintained the steady betting rate.

There are much better ways to make money if you are a skilled person.

The vibe at a casino is generally a negative one too - always anxious/anticipating/waiting for the bank to win.

These days, I don't enjoy gambling one bit. There are much more fulfilling ways to spend ones time. Work, do your work, then PLAYTIME!

Re:Card counting is overrated (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 6 years ago | (#22947270)

Hmm, what does a 6/8 craps betting strategy have to do with counting cards?

Craps is pure chance, and the only thing you can do is place bets with the least house advantage, there is no skill whatsoever.

Card counting is a way to use skill/knowledge to maximize your odds beyond random chance.

I guess I agree card counting is overrated, but your story doesn't back that up at all ;)

Re:Card counting is overrated (2, Insightful)

vinn01 (178295) | about 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Card counting is overrated (2, Informative)

SpinyNorman (33776) | about 6 years ago | (#22947450)

Which is why you do it as a team - with counters who bet minimum waiting for the table to become hot, then the big players who come in when signalled and start throwing the big bucks down and playing double spots. Everyone remains consistent.

Re:Card counting is overrated (1)

jorghis (1000092) | about 6 years ago | (#22947512)

That may make things slightly more difficult to detect but not a lot. It is a REALLY well known strategy (most people reading slashdot have heard of it and this isnt even a gambling related website). One big player moving tables a lot and throwing down thousands of dollars a hand will attract a lot of attention. It may not be as obvious but its not easy to grind away for the hundreds of hours it takes to come ahead in blackjack without getting caught at it either. Casinos know to watch for it.

Re:Card counting is overrated (1)

SpinyNorman (33776) | about 6 years ago | (#22947668)

No-ones saying it's easy - if it was then the Casinos's would be losing money on the game and wouldn't offer it. OTOH the fact that everyone knows about basic strategy and counting means that it's easier for the pros to blend in since perfect play doesn't make you stand out, and there are always going to be more obvious counters than the real professionals. Team play makes it easier and quicker to make money, but bear in mind there have been and presumably still are many legendary players who did it on their own - try reading Ken Uston's "Million Dollar Blackjack" if you like this stuff!

Re:Card counting is overrated (3, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | about 6 years ago | (#22947362)

You should read Breaking Vegas also by Ben Mezrich. It describes some techniques, that used to work, which exploits the fact that when the dealer shuffles the deck they often inadvertently show the first base player the bottom card - then they ask another player at the table to cut the deck which, with practice, can be done precisely. This places a known card at a specific position in the deck (typically 52 cards in) and by carefully playing the table the team can arrange for the known card to fall on the most opportune hand. For example, if the known card is an ace, the team can arrange for it to land on the hand showing a picture card to make a blackjack.. if the known card is a picture card, the team can arrange for it to land as the dealer's 3rd card, typically busting them.

This doesn't give you a 1% or 2% house edge, like card counting, it gives you a 30% to 60% house edge.

Re:Card counting is overrated (2, Informative)

jorghis (1000092) | about 6 years ago | (#22947432)

I agree that if done correctly that is possible, but:

1) Peeking at cards can get you thrown in jail, unlike card counting. (there is some legalese I dont totally understand about "actively" versus "passively" attempting to view the card, but with what you are suggesting I am pretty sure its considered actively trying to peek at cards)

2) Trying to cut to a certain card X number of cards in is super hard even with practice (believe me, as a practitioner of lame card tricks I have practiced) :) and one other guy at your table hitting/staying at the wrong time can easily throw things off even if you were able to perfectly cut to card number 52 or whatever number. I believe this is one of those things where the theoretical profitability is much higher than the actual profitability due to the difficulty of actually pulling it off.

3) I doubt that any casino these days is going to have the dealers working in such a way that allows anyone to see the bottom card. (of course you did mention this alraedy) :)

Re:Card counting is overrated (2, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | about 6 years ago | (#22947468)

Outside Vegas, most casinos use continuous automatic card shufflers. As a result, the game is pretty much dead.

Re:Card counting is overrated (2, Informative)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about 6 years ago | (#22947736)

that's not real card counting at all. Real counting is simply keeping track of what cards are where and the probability of what's left in the deck. If you know the good hands (considerable skill) by how other players call, you can guess what they have... and guess what's left for you. Along with that, hand shuffled decks after a few hands aren't really random as the cards are collected from winning hands and that cool shuffling by pros is very NOT random if you pay attention. There's no need to "cheat" and see cards you shouldn't at all.

Re:Card counting is overrated (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 6 years ago | (#22947906)

If they show you the card, it isn't cheating, it's using the information you were given. No-one said it was card counting.

Re:Card counting is overrated (1)

FinalMidnight (652617) | about 6 years ago | (#22947536)

My step-brother is a professional musician and pianist. He was playing in a piano lounge for a Casino and making decent money. Each night after his shift, he'd go to the blackjack tables and play, counting cards.

After a few consistent wins, up a hundred dollars a night nothing big, he was called into an office where they demanded to know how he was cheating. Who was he colluding with? When he said he was all by himself and just counting cards, the management told him that "It isn't possible with a seven deck shoe" They proceeded to fire him and black list him. The blacklist is shared amongst all casinos in Australia. Now with the use of their Facial Recognition systems on casino security cameras, this is very effective.

So to make the point, Casinos don't need much of a reason to kick you out and make sure you never come back. They are in the business of vacuuming all of the money from the pockets of suckers. If they notice that you are consistently winning then you'll be asked to leave.

FM.

Actually..... (4, Interesting)

raehl (609729) | about 6 years ago | (#22947562)

Most Vegas games have house advantages in the 0.5% range. So you lose $0.50 of every $100 bet when using perfect strategy. (They make most of their money on people not using perfect strategy.)

You can do better than a 1% advantage, depending on the rules of the game, and if your buddy spent several hours losing at a 0.5% advantage betting the minimum, you can make up for that pretty fast even at a 1% advantage if you're betting the table limit.

But, it's a lot more complicated than just counting +1 / -1 and then betting more when the count is good, at least if you want to be GOOD at card counting. On top of just betting more, when you have good information about what cards are left, that also changes the 'right' actions in certain situations. For example, some hands that you always hit if you don't know what's in the chute may become hands you double-down instead. Some surrenders become stands. Some stands become hits. And looking at the table of 'perfect' blackjack strategy, the counts at which the 'right' move changes are different for each box. At a trivial level, instead of memorizing that you hit a 12 against a dealer's 3, you'd instead have to know that you hit a 12 against a dealers 3 when the count is less than (Whatever).

The REALLY big problems with making money counting cards are three-fold:

1) Counting cards is hard. So there is a big up-front investment in learning how to do it.

2) You have to bet big. When you bet big, you can still go on runs where you lose a LOT of money. Blackjack isn't a game where you bet $1,000 a hand and win $20 a hand. It's a game where you lose $1,000 a hand, sometimes win $1,000 a hand, occasionally win $2,000 a hand, semi-occasionally lose $2,000 a hand, and rarely win $2,500 a hand. But most hands you lose.

Two consequences of that:

- To make enough money to make it worth your time, especially if you're smart enough to count cards and could presumably put those talents towards a real job, you have to bet big. That means you have to have $1,000 a hand to bet.

- To bet big, you have to have enough of a bankroll that you can play over the long haul. At $1,000 a hand, you probably need $50,000 to have a chance, $100,000 to be reasonably sure, and you could STILL have a bad run and lose all of it, even with a 2-3% advantage.

I sometimes play blackjack on vacation, using perfect strategy, where the house has 0.55% advantage. Even betting $20/hand, my bankroll can swing $1,000 in the short term (over a period of hours). That works out to swings of $50,000 betting $1,000 a hand. Losing $50k is a pretty high risk for the money you're going to win counting cards.

3) If you are betting $1k a hand, and have $100,000, you get a lot of attention, and are not going to be around casinos very long if you keep winning. So you have a big initial investment (learning to count cards well) and a limited time to leverage that investment (until the casino figures out who you are)

Most people would be better off putting their money in a nice mutual fund.

But, soon those new machines that reshuffle the cards every hand will replace chutes and it'll be a moot point.

Re:Actually..... (1)

jorghis (1000092) | about 6 years ago | (#22947826)

I agree with 90% of what you just said except for one part:

But, it's a lot more complicated than just counting +1 / -1 and then betting more when the count is good, at least if you want to be GOOD at card counting. On top of just betting more, when you have good information about what cards are left, that also changes the 'right' actions in certain situations. For example, some hands that you always hit if you don't know what's in the chute may become hands you double-down instead. Some surrenders become stands. Some stands become hits. And looking at the table of 'perfect' blackjack strategy, the counts at which the 'right' move changes are different for each box. At a trivial level, instead of memorizing that you hit a 12 against a dealer's 3, you'd instead have to know that you hit a 12 against a dealers 3 when the count is less than (Whatever).
You are correct that you can gain a little bit of an advantage by adding a few more rules to basic strategy but I dont think that this makes it substantially harder. Memorizing that you hit a 12 on a dealers 3 when the count is less than X isnt much more difficult than the base case where you arent counting. Even if you are card counting you should never be doing math beyond basic arithmatic at the table. You dont need to understand all the math behind it to use basic strategy. You also dont need to understand all the math behind card counting to follow a slightly larger set of rules while card counting.

Re:Actually..... (1)

raehl (609729) | about 6 years ago | (#22947934)

You are correct that you can gain a little bit of an advantage by adding a few more rules to basic strategy but I dont think that this makes it substantially harder.

Clearly you're not taking enough advantage of the free beer when playing blackjack. Keeping track of basic strategy is hard!

Fortunately they let you use the chart, which makes life easier, and provides for maximum opportunities for making up for the house advantage with liquor consumption.

Re:Card counting is overrated (2, Interesting)

trawg (308495) | about 6 years ago | (#22947582)

Heh I've always wondered about blackjack - years ago John Carmack of id Software wrote a .plan update about how he went and played at some casino (found this site [xent.com] which includes the copy of his update at the time) - it sounded like he walked in, played for a few hours and won $20k (which he donated to the FSF).

I always remembered that; I don't gamble because I don't know the numbers well enough to feel like I'd be doing anything other than having fun (and I'd rather spend my money 'having fun' at the pub or at the movies or something), but I specifically remember that as an example of how just knowing a bunch of stuff about numbers and probability can affect gambling, and that if I'm ever going to get into it I'm going to learn the hell out of the odds before I do anything!

(I seem to recall some mention of the casino staff asking him to leave because he was winning so much so fast, but maybe I imagined that)

Re:Card counting is overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22947716)

He's a great programmer, but every other blackjack player knows the "perfect strategy" for blackjack. It still gives the house a minute advantage. You will still be more likely to lose $20K than win $20K. Use some common sense!

John Carmack .plan on blackjack (2, Interesting)

drivers (45076) | about 6 years ago | (#22947912)

I remember that too.

I found this at this url (at the bottom)
http://doom-ed.com/blog/1998/09 [doom-ed.com]

In his 9/8/1998 update it says:

A few of us took a couple days off in vegas this weekend. After about
ten hours at the tables over friday and saturday, I got a tap on the shoulder...

Three men in dark suits introduced themselves and explained that I was welcome
to play any other game in the casino, but I am not allowed to play
blackjack anymore.

Ah well, I guess my blackjack days are over. I was actually down a bit for
the day when they booted me, but I made +$32k over five trips to vegas in the
past two years or so.

I knew I would get kicked out sooner or later, because I don't play "safely".
I sit at the same table for several hours, and I range my bets around 10 to 1.

Re:John Carmack .plan on blackjack (1)

trawg (308495) | about 6 years ago | (#22948074)

haha thanks! Good find; I had a quick look but couldn't see it anywhere.

Re:Card counting is overrated (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about 6 years ago | (#22947702)

That's what the cute girl spotters were for... they'd bet like a regular girl player out to play for fun, and watch for signs that the deck was about to "streak". That cut down the time the really good players would be tied up.

Re:Card counting is overrated (1)

mbstone (457308) | about 6 years ago | (#22948022)

Whatever the effectiveness of card counting, the movie wasn't about card counting so much as it was about "Wonging" (the practice of inviting a big-betting confederate to join the game only when the count is favorable). The casinos no longer allow "mid-shoe entry," i.e. a new player must wait until after a shuffle to enter the game). End of Wonging.

Bullshit (5, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 6 years ago | (#22947422)

I was close friends with John Chang's friend and partner in the "MIT blackjack team" during the 1990s. I met Chang in Cambridge, and almost joined the team (I was too busy with programming work I preferred, that also made me pretty rich). This was all before anyone (other than some security firms, and a lot of hookers) had ever heard of the team. I was there for some wild times with some of these actual characters, and was there when they returned from some extreme gambling junkets - some very lucrative, some losers, lots of them extremely exciting.

I heard _Bringing Down the House_ was being written while its author was interviewing my friend and his teammates. I read it, and was very disappointed in both the shabby writing style, and its omission of some of my favorite stories from those days. Maybe the team kept some of it quiet in self-defense, but those were much better stories than made it into the book. I asked my friend what he thought of the movie now that it's out, but he confirmed what I expected: even lamer than the book.

There was only one other blackjack team in the world at the time that was as consistently in the money, and it wasn't at MIT - or even from the US, as far as I knew - according to the team that I knew, which was as inside as anyone could get. Maybe this other Boston guy was a player. But MIT isn't that big a place, and there wasn't some other team. Certainly not one that so closely resembled the one that showed up in the book, and now the movie.

This guy is bluffing.

Re:Bullshit (1)

Brownstar (139242) | about 6 years ago | (#22947652)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIT_Blackjack_Team#Strategic_Investments.2C_1992-1993 [wikipedia.org]

(look at reference articles as well as the wiki page).

Kaplan was one of the founders along with Chang of Strategic Investments.

Kaplan also helped trained Chang in a previous incarnation of the team.

So I guess you don't know as much as you'd like to think you do.

Now whether the character is based on Kaplan or Chang, I have no clue.

Re:Bullshit (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 6 years ago | (#22947690)

Except that Kaplan was not part of the events that make the story worth telling, the events that Spacey's character portrays. By the time that the team was recruiting from MIT students not already connected to the team, Kaplan wasn't part of the action.

There were plenty of people connected to the team who I didn't know. I wasn't there when it was started, or even for the majority of its adventures. But I knew it well enough to know that Kaplan wasn't the model for Spacey's character, or any other interesting story about the team. Which is all that I said.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22947694)

Indeed, I cant count the number of times Doc Ruby has proudly posted that he knows so and so and met with such and such. This isnt the first time hes made some mistake that indicates he either is overstating his personal relationships while playing the name dropping game or just making stuff up.

I am guessing he didnt totally make it up, there have been hundreds of card counters from cambridge. It isnt that big of a deal to know one or two of them in passing.

Re:Bullshit (0, Flamebait)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 6 years ago | (#22947786)

Except that I'm not making a mistake, as would be clear if you'd read either my reply or even just understood the difference between Kaplan's claims to be Spacey's character, and Kaplan's early, tangential role in the team.

Look, Anonymous jealous Coward, I have an interesting life, I get around, I've been there to do things that are notable. It's not my fault that while you do nothing but post from your mom's basement. I like sharing that with other people, but your whining is the boring part.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22948034)

Look, Anonymous jealous Coward, I have an interesting life, I get around, I've been there to do things that are notable. It's not my fault that while you do nothing but post from your mom's basement. I like sharing that with other people, but your whining is the boring part.
Says the guy who is pushing 17 thousand posts on slashdot. You would probably be president or maybe there would be a nursery rhyme about doc ruby by now if you cut back on posting some.

Re:Bullshit (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 6 years ago | (#22948100)

So you say in a Slashdot post.

If you're good at what you do, you have time to do it, and to post about it on Slashdot, too. Especially if you're good enough to get rich and semi-retire right around the time Slashdot gets started.

And this guy is on in? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:And this guy is on in? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 6 years ago | (#22947798)

What's funny is that one of the team's central members spent their college years as a funloving anarchist. And some of the other counters I know are much more "socialist" (actual socialists) than I am.

Wait, no, the really funny thing is that I blew off the chance to join the team because I was too busy making money with my SW development corporation. My main customers were banks and giant publishing companies, as well as state/provincial/federal governments, global telecom corps... Like, I wore a suit and shaved and everything! I hope they never guessed I was a commie, while I was making all that capitalist money with my corporation telling the government what to do.

Re:And this guy is on in? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22948766)

You are one confused puppy. Anarchists are exactly the opposite of socialist. And.. you think taking money from the goverment and wearing a suit is capitalist? This is practically the very definition of socialism. I don't think you have any idea what you are talking about.
Its clear to me you do not know these guys. You think you do. But you have demonstrated how easily confused you are.

Re:Bullshit (1)

MadAhab (40080) | about 6 years ago | (#22947672)

Interesting.

I know an MIT blackjack player who was "on the team" and I heard about it when he was actually doing it (and the world at large had no idea about it) and he was making craploads of money on summer vacation. He's making bucketfuls now in the financial world. I can't say I heard this guy's name, but then again, I never heard any names.

The story is worthy of a better treatment (fiction or non-fiction) than it's gotten, for a variety of reasons that seem sort of obvious to me: lack of true sleaze factor, lack of heist movie payoff, it's hard to write gangster-cool roles for nerds, etc. "Cool Hand Luke" has not ensued. Basically, someone would have to write a compelling character story, which would be much easier if any of these folks had subsequently been involved in major crime/scandal, or else just quit and moved to Hawaii and surfed while living off a repetoire of cheap bar bet stunts, but that hasn't happened.

Re:Bullshit (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 6 years ago | (#22947820)

My friend from the team has an extremely interesting story, of which the MIT team is only a part (though the one with the most fireworks for the screen). But I think he'd rather be rich than famous, and there is good reason to believe they'd have to choose one or the other ;).

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22947778)

I met Chang in Cambridge , and almost joined the team (I was too busy with programming work I preferred, that also made me pretty rich ).
If you were studying in Cambridge, you already had the money, douchebag. Thank your rich assed parents for that one. 'Ooh, look at the money I made.' Fuckers like you make me sick.

Re:Bullshit (0, Flamebait)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 6 years ago | (#22947872)

You're an idiot, Anonymous jealous Coward. I wasn't in Camridge to attend school - I was in Cambridge to meet Chang (and to hang out with my friend, his partner). I was already out of school for years, and I dropped out. From a school I had attended on full academic scholarship, though I worked a regular job for extra money - my parents didn't support me. I made my money on my wits and balls (and some luck, like most people who do). There are plenty of people at school in MIT, though, who don't come from money. My friend there, for example, came from broke immigrant parents, also there on scholarship.

I own the credit for making myself rich, though I am grateful to my parents (who were middle class, and supported me pretty well, including letting me buy a computer in the early 1980s with saved birthday present money). Mainly because they raised me to feel no shame at either making lots of money or not.

You, on the other hand, have major problems, with jealousy (and logic, and basic decency). Since you're also evidently not rich, you've got no business even talking to me.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22947902)

I am just trying to give you some friendly advice so dont take this the wrong way. :)

Your first post came across as "I know so and so and blah blah blah". "Of course I was important enough to be on the team but I was so brilliant and making so much money that there was no point".

It kind of follows the self important formula of:

1) Just happen to mention that I know someone famous.

2) Just happen to mention that I am rich.

3) Just happen to mention that I am well educated.

When you talk with that whole "let me casually mention a bunch of reasons why I am so great" attitude people tend to react very negatively towards you especially on the internet. It works great for picking up girls though. :)

Re:Bullshit (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 6 years ago | (#22948002)

I appreciate your attempt to help, but I don't think it's for me.

I didn't actually mention that I know someone famous - they're not. The Spacey character is fictional (though plausible from the facts), as is the character in the book. And I didn't mention that I'm well educated - I met Chang in Cambridge while visiting my friend, and didn't imply otherwise.

I am rich, and pretty "brilliant", and I have plenty of friends. My way sure worked well to pick up girls, and what I said is all true. Now why should I take your advice?

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22948148)

here are plenty of people at school in MIT, though, who don't come from money
Only 21% [economicdiversity.org] come from families that make under 60k. And guess what, 75% of families in the US make 68,304 [census.gov] or less. That means 21% represents just under 75% of the population. That's not jealousy so much as realism. A group is being discriminated against, how's that for basic decency. Assuming you went to MIT, maybe you were one of those 21%, but then you go and deny that this problem exists (like the vast majority do), a behavior I expect would be inconsistent with the views of one of the 21%.

If you didn't go to MIT, not much offense meant, if you did, well, I don't much like you. (I would downgrade fucker to asshole in that case. Since you said you were in Cambridge but didn't specify where you went, I made the assumption that you went to the giant douche-hall across the river, which, despite what the facts reveal about MIT, is much worse). Yeah, I know, judging a person by the institution is stupid, I don't really care.

Since you're also evidently not rich, you've got no business even talking to me.
Yup, 79%

Re:Bullshit (1)

jorghis (1000092) | about 6 years ago | (#22948214)

That doesnt prove discrimination. It could be (and probably is in my view) the case that richer families are able to do a better job of raising their children and giving them a good education as the grow up. In this case MIT wouldnt be discriminating, they would just be taking the best students available to them. Unless you consider accepting the best qualified students to be discriminatory.

And no, I didnt go to MIT and I grew up in a family that was in the "poor" 75%. (if you can call under 60k poor, Americans are so wealthy they seem to develop strange ideas about what economic hardship is like)

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22948302)

The discrimination isn't de jure, but its still there. I agree with you that the wealthy, on average, probably do a better job at education their kids (ex. private schools, schools from better neighborhoods), but when you factor in the thousands of applicants that top schools receive, there's more than enough from every economic quartile to fill all the seats. Why then do the top quartile dominate the population? I can't say for sure, but I sure know what it looks like.

And no, I don't consider 60k 'poor' or anything, that area just happens to be where the second highest quartile ends, and anyone below that mark, statistically speaking, has 1/4 the chances of getting into MIT than someone born above it.

Re:Bullshit (0, Flamebait)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 6 years ago | (#22948278)

It's pretty obvious why you didn't go to MIT.

For one, I didn't say that I did, and then I said that I didn't, but you haven't caught on to that simple fact yet. For another, 21% is a big fraction, and I said "plenty". 1 out of five people is "plenty". Yet another, as another response to your post mentioned, growing up with some money can help you get into MIT because you have more resources with which to develop your mind. That development is the basis for getting into MIT for most of its students, however they come by the development. It's not supposed to reflect America in microcosm (look it up), it's supposed to reflect America's smartest. It's unfair that having money offers benefits, including learning advantages, that not everyone can get, but that's why people want to be rich. Why people like me work hard and use our smarts to get rich.

So I didn't really deny "the problem" exists, I just denied that everyone at MIT is rich, as you insisted, but which you certainly can't prove by offering evidence that over a fifth of them come from families that make less than what 75% of Americans make.

But really, you're far from MIT material because you can't even understand when I tell you that you've got no business talking to me because you've got major problems. The fact that you don't understand that you're not being rich offers no alternative reason for you to have business to talk with me, further confirms that you're not so bright.

Kinda dumb, pretty obnoxious, relatively uneducated, intensely jealous, no money to offer, unable to pick up even free clues - you're getting nothing more from me.

Goodbye, and better luck next time.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22948622)

For one, I didn't say that I did, and then I said that I didn't, but you haven't caught on to that simple fact yet.
...and you didn't catch the if/than statements I was using. Great CYA statements, they are.

It's not supposed to reflect America in microcosm (look it up), it's supposed to reflect America's smartest.
Taking that logic, how about setting up a nice monarchy? After all, people prepared from day one to be leaders will be better at the job. Oh, and I know what a microcosm is, it's not an uncommon word (unless one's just learned it).

My little strawman aside, even if that was a good reason, there are thousands of applicants. MIT got 11231 last year, accepts a few points less than about 10%, I believe, but lets just round numbers and assume we're talking 10% and 10,000 applicants. Now, that would mean that 2% of them are from the lower 75% of the population. Is it unreasonable to assume that out of the 9,000 remaining, there's not, at the very least, another 200 if not 550 (raising the !;! ratio for the top quartile and the rest with regards to the total population), qualified students not from the top quartile? Even if not, assume that that those 550 are still very well qualified, haven't they demonstrated the ability to do almost as good with less. Sure, they might be currently less qualified, but that's not taking into account that they show more general potential for academic growth. I suppose its a mater of opinion, (to put it into an easy to grasp dichotomy) choosing A++ students who have had great opportunities as opposed to A+ who have had ordinary opportunities, but I'll take the latter.

Now, since 1/5 is plenty, let's visualize this number. You have four people, representing the economic quartiles, and a pizza with ten slices, representing seats at MIT. One person takes eight slices, and leaves two for the other three, then claims he's hungrier, so that's fair. I don't claim to be a math wiz, but there's something wrong with that picture.

So I didn't really deny "the problem" exists, I just denied that everyone at MIT is rich
Correct, not everyone, just the majority.

which you certainly can't prove by offering evidence that over a fifth of them come from families that make less than what 75% of Americans make.
Read the first part of that line a few times, specifically the part where I can't prove something with evidence that proves it.

The fact that you don't understand that you're not being rich offers no alternative reason for you to have business to talk with me
I could say the fact that you've got an obvious typo means that you've got no business talking to me, but neither intellect nor financial determines who has 'business' talking with who, especially on an internet message board. If I didn't know any better, I'd say your statement betrays a tinge of elitism. The ad Hominems do the same. I might not like your views, but you seem smart enough.

Kinda dumb, pretty obnoxious, relatively uneducated, intensely jealous, no money to offer, unable to pick up even free clues -
Yeah, I'm obnoxious, but if 1/5 is plenty, I guess so is 1/6.

you're getting nothing more from me.
What makes you think this has anything to do with you, you don't seriously think I'm posting these comments for your education, do you? I've got what I came here for, . After the initial troll comment (apologies, btw [and what's up with the mods today, that inane comment hasn't even been modded down yet]) opened the way for a nice heated debate, you opened with initial points that I rebutted and that you then rebutted. I do this only to test the mindset of an Ivy level college apologist and refine my points should I encounter one in meatspace. It's been awhile since I've actually had the chance to; I left the board I used to do this on after my main sparing partner (so to speak) tried to tell me that multivariate analysis makes the scientific method obsolete. Now THAT guy was a moron. I'll assume that you didn't read this comment (even though you have) and bid you farewell & better luck next time as well.

It's not him. (4, Informative)

spellcheckur (253528) | about 6 years ago | (#22947612)

As one of the players profiled in BDTH, I can say with authority that Bill Kaplan is definitively NOT the basis for the Mickey Rosa character in the book nor the character that Mr. Spacey plays on screen.

While I will not comment on any of the rest of Mr. Kaplan's claims, I will say that, following the release of the book, and especially given the success of the movie, there have been several people who may or may not have been active card players at that time that have come out to falsely claim that the book is about them.

Lest you suspect I may be one of them, I will point out that I was the one who submitted the original WIRED story [slashdot.org] to slashdot several years ago.

A summary Bringing Down The House (2, Informative)

astro128 (669526) | about 6 years ago | (#22947704)

Several years ago, right before the book can out, Wired Magazine (which we all know and love) featured a great story/ interview about "Kevin Lewis" (his name was changed in the article) and his story about being one of the MIT kids. It's a pretty good read, probably better than the movie. Follow the link below for the article.

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/10.09/vegas.html [wired.com]

---

Over 50% of the population is below average

Re:A summary Bringing Down The House (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22948122)

And a /. article that has a link to the same page on wired:
MIT vs. Las Vegas [slashdot.org]
and that article was posted by timothy on 2002-08-14 8:22.

getting near 6 years since that article got posted.

Yeah....no. (0, Offtopic)

Xacid (560407) | about 6 years ago | (#22947938)

"To complicate matters further, most active Internet users have at least three separate e-mail addresses, which they give out for work purposes, for personal matters, and for newsletters and commercial offers. Somebody needs to sort it all out"

Somebody needs to sort it all out? Someone not me? No the fuck they don't. I divide my email addresses so ms granny-chain-a-lot spams one account and important shit goes elsewhere. I don't want companies to have an easier time finding me. Especially when 99.9% of them do *not* have my interests in mind as priority.

Long before this, (4, Interesting)

onemorechip (816444) | about 6 years ago | (#22948230)

MIT professors Ed Thorpe [wikipedia.org] (later of UCI) and Claude Shannon [wikipedia.org] were developing blackjack strategies. Talk about shoulders of giants... Shannon of course is the famed father of information theory. Besides blackjack, these guys figured out how to gain an edge in roulette using some tricky electronics. Thorpe later made a fortune by founding one of the original hedge funds (this book [amazon.com] is a fascinating account).

Here's how you get a free traffic from Slashdot (2, Funny)

ingo23 (848315) | about 6 years ago | (#22948240)

1. Pick a movie from the top box office list
2. Mention that you looked like a main character when you was in college
3. Provide a 2 page detailed description of your business
4. Profit!

Re:Here's how you get a free traffic from Slashdot (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | about 6 years ago | (#22948674)

Ya. Mod this up. This is what I was about to say. Oh and by the way I am the CEO of the startup FreshAddress, which helps companies correct the outdated e-mail addresses in their customer databases.

The real money was made in the 1960s (0, Troll)

Animats (122034) | about 6 years ago | (#22948406)

The real money was made back in the 1960s, when the theoreticians figured out that blackjack was beatable but the gambling industry didn't know that yet.

Email churn (1)

seebs (15766) | about 6 years ago | (#22948730)

What he does is "epending" -- that is to say, trying to guess the "right" email address for someone who didn't give you that address.

Which is to say, providing dirty lists to spammers. You cannot do this right.
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