Analysis: "Breaking Vegas" (History Channel Documentary)
This story is about group of brilliant students from MIT who were recruited to join a blackjack team that utilized statistics to beat the casino out of its money. This team visited the top casinos throughout the world, betting incredible sums of money and winning millions of dollars. While the team was able to utilize training, strategy and mental toughness to outwit the casino they had to overcome an aggressive security system that specifically designed to stop them. Still they had tremendous success by taking advantage of the elements within the game of blackjack and exploiting the nuances within the rules of the game. The group primarily utilized a technique called "card counting", a deck-tracking technique to beat the casinos. This technique allowed them to take advantage of the laws of probability to move the odds in favor of the player.
Unlike games of chance like roulette where each spin is a unique instance where the odds are the same, blackjack hands provide odds that change depending on the previous round. This allows a player who can calculate the statistical chances of certain combinations of cards to have an edge when placing a bet. The edge becomes bigger as the round goes on as the card counter can predict what the next card will be. The MIT team utilized several different techniques that employed mathematics and communication to turn the odds and increase their chances. In order to share information with other team members to let them know which tables were “hot” the players utilized various hand signals and body language in a similar fashion as a coach in a baseball game. These signals are an example of communication techniques that we might learn in a speech class in terms of the types of body language that is used that provides information. On the mathematics front the idea was to break cards into three groups that had predefined point values and when certain point value...
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