Card Counters Talk to Casino Execs at Global Gaming Expo - 8 News NOW

Edward Lawrence, Reporter

Card Counters Talk to Casino Execs at Global Gaming Expo

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Douglas Florence worked as the security boss for the Rio then Mirage during the 90's. Douglas Florence worked as the security boss for the Rio then Mirage during the 90's.
"We would literally have our pockets bulging out three inches stuffed with $10,000 bricks," said Dave Irvine. "We would literally have our pockets bulging out three inches stuffed with $10,000 bricks," said Dave Irvine.

The most infamous card counters in Las Vegas history found themselves face-to-face with casino executives Wednesday morning and only Channel 8 Eyewitness News was there.

Two members of the MIT blackjack team which used a card counting scheme spoke at the Global Gaming Expo. It was a very interesting scene. Two MIT blackjack card counters addressing the people they took millions from and the people who tried to stop them.

Over a seven year period, the team says they took $10 million from casinos in Las Vegas and across the nation.

The chance to win big brings millions of people to Las Vegas. Michael Aponte and Dave Irvine came here to count cards.

"We had no idea what to expect. Then right off the bat we just started winning tons of money. It was crazy," said Michael Aponte, former MIT blackjack team leader.

But not lucky. Aponte recruited Irvine into what became the most infamous card counting ring in Las Vegas history.

"The most we ever made in a weekend was about $500,000. We would routinely make $100,000 on a weekend -- no trouble," said Irvine.

Their system worked. The simple explanation of it is the more high cards left in the deck, the better the odds for the players. The team would bet big. When more lower cards remained in the deck, the odds moved in the casinos' favor. Then the team would stop betting.

It was so successful from 1993 to 2000 that casinos comped rooms, flights, provided limos, and reserved the best fight tickets for these college students. Irvine says the trip home was always interesting.

"We would literally have our pockets bulging out three inches stuffed with $10,000 bricks," said Irvine.

It took about three years for the casinos to catch on. Then another four years to identify the players and stop the card counting scheme.

Douglas Florence worked as the security boss for the Rio then Mirage during the 90's. "Within our own city, we had some difficulties having properties talk with properties and sister properties talk with sister properties."

He chased both Aponte and Irvine and moderated the Global Gaming Expo talk which brought the card counters to Las Vegas once again. Florence credits the team with changing casino security forever, prompting investments in technology and face recognition software.

The MIT team leader, Michael Aponte, was one of the first 25 faces in the face recognition software casinos use. What they did is not illegal, so all casinos can do is ban them from the property.

The two says they are retired but will not help casinos catch other card counters.

Email your comments to Reporter Edward Lawrence.
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