Card counting is an incredibly skilled talent that will, sure enough, land you in trouble with casinos and possibly the law if you’re caught out. Counting cards is most commonly practised in the casino game Blackjack, to know what cards are coming next. By also deciphering what cards your opponent may hold can give you a great advantage, although it can be incredibly difficult. Card counting has been portrayed in films and books, one of the most famous being the film 21 which was based on the true story of the MIT Blackjack Team. Counting cards will more than likely end in you being caught – even if it takes a few years, and for this, some people have gone down in history. All card counters had to start somewhere by learning Blackjack, you can play live blackjack with Betfair here and practise the honest way! Here is our list of the most famous card counters.
MIT Blackjack Team
Possibly one of the most famous Blackjack card counting teams is the MIT Blackjack Team. Made up of multiple current and former students from MIT, Harvard University and Harvard Business School as well as other institutions, this team was compiled of young intelligent minds that flooded the casinos and took home an extortionate amount of winnings. Graduate Bill Kaplan managed the team throughout the 1980s and 1990s and used a lot of tests in order to find his team members. An incredibly organised group of people that put themselves in the card counting history books. Their actions and legendary status persuaded author Ben Mezrich to write a book about them which later was produced into the previously mentioned film 21.
Arguably, Edward Thorp is the man who started it all in 1962, when he published his book titled Beat the Dealer. In Thorp’s book, he proved that is was possible to mathematically beat the game Blackjack every time by using certain card counting techniques. An utter genius who created card counting techniques simply by watching and taking note of the game, eventually he noticed a way he could beat the system and the rest is history. He tested his systems in Reno and Las Vegas which drew the attention of security in the casinos, ultimately drawing too much attention, he was caught. His techniques received so much attention, that he decided to publish his methods and make money from them honestly instead, although we’re not sure how honest it can be; making a profit from teaching others cheating methods.
The Four Horseman
You may have heard of The Four Horseman before from the film Now You See Me which was released in 2013, and its sequel released in 2016 – but the story isn’t anything to do with the real Four Horseman. The Four Horseman were the first to claim they had a mathematical formula to Blackjack in 1957, before Edward Thorp. Although all four men, Roger Baldwin, Herbert Maisel, James McDermott and Wilbert Cantey were mathematicians, their ‘formula’ proved that eventually, they would lose and not make any real money from it. Which is why we see them referenced in the recent films, a group of four people, pioneering the way to cheat the system – just like the films.
As far as Blackjack teams go, Tommy Hyland manages the longest standing team. Since they started in 1979, the team initially was made up of four people, each who put in $4,000 into a pot and together they built their pot above $60,000 within a month or so. The team members have fluctuated throughout the years, with people leaving and joining,although each one is intensely vetted to make sure they are loyal, trustworthy and respectful. Nobody knows how far Hyland’s team now spans across the globe, but some people suggest they are still counting cards in casinos.
Other notable names include Stanford Wong, a pseudonym for John Ferguson, who has been the author of many gambling books and has devised many card counting systems of his own. As well as Wong there is Keith Taft, James Grosjean and Ken Uston – all of these people loved playing Blackjack, partly for the thrill but that little bit more because they have the tools and the knowledge to beat it.