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American female revolutionary. She had completely staff are licensed by the Gaming Board for Great
charmed the shift manger at that location, he Britain, today known as the Gaming Commission.
couldn’t believe that such a nice young woman had Mike Aponte, along with his partner Dave Irvine,
wandered into his casino to play high stakes have formed “ The Blackjack Institute” where they
blackjack. She was ahead by $12,000 when we called teach paying students the MIT system of blackjack
to inform him of who she was. play. “ In 1994 a group of MIT students took
Following this visit Vegas by storm…” but Johnny Chang had started at
we introduced a new least 10 years earlier. Chang, now living in Las Vegas
shuffle to the and still playing from time to time, has stated, “there
blackjack, to prevent are probably a few tens of counters active at any one
shuffle tracking and time and maybe a hundred or two are able to act on a
ace location, but this moment’s notice”.
new shuffle was time The blockbuster movie “21” which was breaking
consuming. We were box office records as I wrote this article, will
losing so many inevitably lead to an upsurge in blackjack play and
potential hands per card-counter activity. In my opinion it would be
day, waiting for wise if casinos removed 50% of their automatic
another unlikely visit shuffling machines from their blackjack tables to
from the M.I.T. make way for the influx of young wannabe card
Realising this, we counters. Let's face it, there are probably less than
changed back to the 100 good card counters worldwide and as these are
original shuffle, the 'A' by now very well known, casinos are not doing
shuffle, but we also themselves any favours by prohibiting this activity
kept the 'B' shuffle for to the masses. I would only introduce the card
use in cases when shufflers when faced with team play, which should
other shuffle trackers emerged – and they duly did. always be discouraged and written in the house
We were never again visited by anyone from M.I.T. but parameters to prevent this from happening.
did encounter other blackjack team members and In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Andrew
John Edward Connolly of many individual card counters. In fact Budapest is Bloch, former M.I.T member and now one of the
ICCDA [International Casino firmly on the map for the international travelling world's top poker players describes how they beat the
Cheat Detection Agency] is a cheats and during my time there I had come into casinos at their own game. "I probably made half a
casino veteran of 34 years and contact with most of the world's best. million over six years," he said, sitting in a steak house
fluent in five European Johnny Chang is now out of the closet, since he in Washington. "Some I earned as a player and some
languages. He is a former was inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2007. as an investor." A half a million in six years is not a lot
founder member of I.A.C.S. with In 2002 in a question-and-answer interview with of money, for someone who is a good card counter.
over twelve years of Richard W. Munchkin, Johnny C. (as he was then Following the writing of the book “Bringing Down
contribution to that security known) gave a description of his travels outside of the the House” which is the basis for the film “21”, it is
association. US where he had visited England, Austria, Czech amazing how many MIT card counters are coming out
Republic, Hungary, France, and the Caribbean. He of the woodwork. While previously they made a point
John may be reached by:
mentioned that while in Prague the casino was of trying to disguise themselves, now they are openly
owned by a Frenchman and that the manager had appearing in every form of media that exists. I doubt
removed certain cards from the shoe, while he was at if many of them will ever be able to seriously
dinner, making it impossible to count down the deck continue their card counting activities especially in
correctly. It should be noted that Prague is in the casinos, which take the necessary precaution of
Czech Republic and not in Hungary, because in tracking them.
another question-and-answer session Mike Aponte, Since I began writing this article it has come to
also a MIT team member said that “Mickey” (John light that Bill Kaplan has also staked a claim to the
Chang, aka Mickey Rosa) had been short-shoed in persona of Micky Rosa (played by Kevin Spacey in
Budapest. (A short shoe is one in which tens and aces the film) a MIT maths professor. In actual fact there
have been removed, giving the casino a higher edge). was never an MIT professor involved in the MIT card
Knowing the Hungarian capital as I do and all of the counting team and the character of Micky Rosa
casino managers that ever worked there, I very much would probably be a composite of Professor Edward
doubt that this ever happened. Was it just a young Thorp, who started the card counting industry with
American getting his geography mixed up? This his book “Beat the Dealer”, the bible of card
reminds me of the book “Inside Las Vegas”, written by counting. Al Francesco who invented team play, Bill
Mario Puzo of Godfather fame. He says that while Kaplan who financed, trained and organized the
playing roulette in London the dealer took the ball first serious MIT card counting team, James Massar
from the winning number and placed it in another. who recruited the first students and John Chang
This in my opinion is very hard to believe; this type of who managed the team throughout at least a ten-
action could cost the dealer their job and there is no year history.
benefit in doing it. England is one of the strictest Before machines and poker take over the whole
gaming jurisdictions in the world, where all casino casino world, give Blackjack another chance…
42 APRIL 2009
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