21 (2008) - Trailer
But in the 1990s a group of students proved the punter didn't have to be the loser.
This is the story of the MIT Blackjack Team.
Bill Kaplan laughs, remembering his mother's reaction when he told her he was postponing his entrance to Harvard to make his fortune at gambling.
What am I going to tell my friends?
Kaplan had read a book about card counting and believed he could use a mathematical model to make good money from blackjack.
It was certainly not his mother's dream for her straight-A student son.
But Kaplan's stepfather was more open to the idea and threw down a challenge.
He went on to graduate from Harvard and over the years kept playing blackjack around the world.
Image copyright Bill Kaplan His life took a dramatic turn when the leader of a small group of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT who had dabbled with card counting overheard him mit blackjack team names his Vegas exploits.
They asked mit blackjack team names to train and manage what would later become known as the infamous MIT Blackjack Team.
In 1992, with the gambling industry booming and new mega-casinos springing up, Kaplan and his partners saw an opportunity for them to go mega as well.
One of these students was Mike Aponte, then a 22-year-old who was unsure what he wanted to do with his life.
It had a jacuzzi, pool table - it was amazing.
I was in awe of the room but I didn't enjoy it as much as I would normally have, because I was still upset about losing all that money.
Image copyright Bill Kaplan Casino hosts look after high rollers - clients who gamble big money - and reward them with perks of free food, drinks, tickets and rooms, whether or not they win.
So the students, who spent the week going to class, eating in canteens and sharing dorm rooms, soon got used to being treated like VIPs.
But they also had to look the part - something that wasn't easy for many.
For Aponte, it was like going undercover.
I totally forgot about it.
I ran back and it's not there He says that while skill at maths wasn't a problem for anyone at MIT "what was important was being comfortable, being able to deal with the attention, because money just attracts attention.
So my standard story was that I came from a rich family and I was the spoiled son.
One night some members of the team came straight from a gambling trip in Las Vegas to join in a practice session in a MIT classroom.
One put a brown paper lunch bag under his chair.
At 06:00 the next morning Kaplan received a phone call.
Well I left in the classroom.
I totally forgot about it.
I ran back and it's not there.
It took six months and investigations by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI before the team eventually got their money back.
Pressure was also growing as more players started being spotted by the casinos and were barred from playing.
A private detective had been employed to find them and realised from the Boston addresses of many of those caught that this was a student team from MIT.
He even obtained a yearbook including some of their photos.
Image copyright Mike Aponte Image caption Mike Aponte left with one of his biggest wins in later life - some players still remain mit blackjack team names Many worried about being caught, even though Aponte says it was usually quite painless.
He remembers the experience of one new team member who had just passed the tests to act as a big player.
He wore glasses, he had a very meek personality, and he just looked really smart.
He was really smart - he was a PHD student.
That player and his wife - they never played for the team again.
So a card counter keeps a running tally in their head, adding 1 for low cards and subtracting 1 for high cards.
When their tally increases meaning more high cards than low ones are left in the deck they know it's time to start placing higher bets.
Card counters won't win every time - they often lose a lot of money - but statistically, and over time, the odds are in their favour.
It has to be done secretly because although it's not illegal, casinos don't like it and have the right to refuse to let someone play.
It was researched in the 1950s by a mathematics professor from MIT, Edward Thorp, using some of the earliest computers.
In 1962 he published a book about it called Beat the Dealer and forever changed how the gambling public viewed blackjack.
After being caught, many gave up.
But some took drastic more info to stay on the team.
Kaplan remembers how one 21-year-old managed to keep playing as a spotter - someone who counts cards and then signals to their partner who places the big bets when the cards were favourable.
He was a very good looking guy!
By then the team had here to around 80 players and he says it was time to call it quits.
Kaplan decided that for the amount he was making, he would be better off investing in property and business.
His wife was relieved people weren't calling at two in the morning saying "I just got blackjack ti 84 plus out of Caesars what do I do?
Image copyright Mike Aponte After Strategic Investments folded, Aponte went on to form another team, as did other players.
Those teams learned from their experiences with Strategic Investments and concentrated more on the personalities of the people they recruited.
Mike says the amount of money they won rocketed.
Eventually, Aponte became too well known as a card counter to play but he still makes mit blackjack team names living from the game.
He became the World Series of Blackjack champion in 2004, he teaches people to play and advises the casinos.
Ironically, he has become friendly with some of the people who used to spend their days hunting for him.
But he still looks back at his MIT team days with fondness.
Everyone knows the golden rule that you can't beat the house over the long run but that's exactly what we were able to pull off.
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Blackjack Expert Explains How Card Counting Works
"What I don't do is give my real name or bet a lot of money," he says.. Hirschtick became aware of the MIT blackjack team after seeing a flier ...
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