Another little known name of great influence on blackjack Keith Taft. He was an engineer, computer specialist and inventor, he created his first blackjack computer in 1970, before Ken Uston appeared on the stage, just four years after the publication of the second Thorp’s book that encouraged him for this work. This computer named “George” was used by Uston’s teams.
Consider the fact, that at that time, there were not computers at all, to say nothing of miniaturization. The first version used 16bite processor, manually made memory and manually wired-in program. Assembly work and debugging took two years. He protected his device with copper screen from possible clutters and hid it in his boots. At first he was very lucky, but then he lost a great deal. It made him give up independent playing. Keith thought of writing a book, but then contracts with professional players came his way. After a few years the market offered more powerful computing devices.
The basis of the other device was Z80 processor. Keith built it in the pocket calculator. This version of “George”, later renamed as “David”, caught Uston’s eye. Keith together with his brother made several such computers for his team. They doubled their capital in a week. Trebled in two weeks. Then they were caught, the money and the computer were confiscated. By the way, Uston’s lawyer in the case was Oscar Goodman – now he is effective mayor of Las Vegas.
In the upshot the project broke down. And a new one emerged with more sophisticated and secret devices but now without Uston. More complicated computers required new processors and larger memory. New investments from the players and “Thor” project made good money for Taft and gamblers. Moreover, this computer remained unnoticed in the casinos. Keith created protection system which in fact repeats the concept of modern “electronic key”.
Then he developed “7-Up” scheme which connected 7 (!!) players at the table into the network. Each had a computer and they were united into the network. Just think – this guy – created computer networks!!!! It was 1982! Before Microsoft these people managed computer severs…
Then video cameras appeared. Keith started applying satellite and radio signals. Then again a failure, arrest and accusation of fraud. Charges were again dismissed. A new hi-tech project followed.
Finally when the usage of computers was deemed illegal in the USA, Keith stopped playing blackjack. Now he is living in his house and is working in his laboratory. I wonder, on what?
Things get easier when done together.
Blackjack boom in 70-80-s, public description of team playing methods lead to creation of the biggest blackjack teams. The most famous, probably was the team of Massachusetts technological Institute or MIT Team. The idea was innovative- instead of hiring people with money, the operators of the team trained the students of playing the game and offered blackjack as summer earnings during their vacation. They almost posted announcements in the lecture rooms saying “Blackjack players wanted!”
At first he team was small, however the management drew great funds from outside investors and project became very large. These young guys and ladies lived a double life – five days a week attending the lectures and eating in the campus canteen and on the weekend flying to Las Vegas, betting on 10 thousand dollars in the box, living in luxury apartments and driving in limousines at the expense of casinos.
This is possibly the most highly qualified team in all history of blackjack. In a few years they have won about 10 million dollars. Then everything went pear shaped. First, the risk on the casino’s side increased. There was spying on the players, soon it was found out that they were students of MIT and then their names were added to the blacklist all over the country. Besides, the casinos were more aware of team game principles and each big player immediately came under observation.
But it is not the most terrible. A prick was in the team. One of the players betrayed for “the thirty pieces of silver” all the members of the team to the casino security service. Moreover, part of the money was simply stolen. It caused the breakdown of the team. Though it revived in different new forms, they were not so successful as before. However, as the rumors circulating, you can come across some interesting announcements in the institute…
Former founders and managers of the team now are very famous people. Semyon Dukach is in sales and purchase of Internet companies, conducts seminars on blackjack and Andy Bloch became a professional poker player.
Team playing, regardless of its pros has a lot of cons of administration nature. It requires great investments into the risky business. That’s why 99% of team playing efforts end up in a financial catastrophe.