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Andy Bloch interview - Part 2: MIT Blackjack Team

You were a member of the MIT Blackjack Team, a now famous group of graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who made a lot of money counting cards in the 1990s. According to one report the team won more than $100,000 playing in shifts during the Mohegan Sun's first weekend of operation.

Q: Who was/were the founder('s) of the MIT Blackjack team? Are there any members besides yourself who to this day still make a living as a professional gambler?

A: The MIT team had been around for many years before I got involved. Some of us still make our livings gambling, but most have moved on to other endeavors. There are a few that still play blackjack, but there really isn't an MIT team anymore.

Q: What card counting system were you using?

A: The simple Hi-lo (+1/-1) count with strategy deviations.

Q: How important was the team-play to the success of the system, and what was your role within the team?

A: Team play was most important to hide our skills from the casino. I took on just about every role at one time or another, from back counter to Big Player, and trainee to manager.

Q: How much money did you make from card counting? Do you still count cards?

A: I've made six figures counting cards. I don't count much any more, maybe once or twice a year for old-times sake.

Q: As far as I know, card counting is not illegal. Do you know of any card counter that has successfully challenged a casino in court, after being harassed by it's security personnel for counting cards?

A: Yes, many have, going back to Ken Uston v. Resorts (a New Jersey Supreme Court case decided in 1982) and further. James Grosjean just won a $400,000 verdict against the Imperial Palace in Vegas for wrongful imprisonment (more info). And there have been many opinions in between. For example, the Monte Carlo casino in Vegas tried to keep $40,400 of our winnings, and we had to take the case all the way to the Nevada Supreme Court to get it back (more info).

Q: What's you opinion on Griffin Investigations Inc? This company has a large database of card counters, including photographs and all kinds of personal information. Do you think it's legal to store and sell private information of card counters, who are supposedly not doing anything illegal? What are your personal experiences with Griffin Investigations?

A: Griffin's database and how it's used is probably illegal, in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other laws. I've seen some of my entries in the Griffin Book, where I've been reported to be associates with people I've never met and at a certain place at a time I was across the country. I don't know if my entry accuses me of using a concealed computer to help play blackjack, but I know other members of the MIT team have been accused of that. There is a law in Nevada that makes using a computer or device to aid in playing a casino game a crime, so wrongly accusing us of that would be libel. I and other card counters have considered suing Griffin over the years, but it never seemed to make too much sense.

Continue with Part 3 of this interview: Law & Gambling

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