– Thoughts on Strategy and Management

21 – Bringing down the house

Well, this post is not that strategic. It is more an example that life still writes the prime stories. If I would try to name it as a strategic issue I would argue that card counting (changes in the environment) in blackjack (the product) shifted the probability to win (financial objective) from a casino to the player (= strategic threat). What I am writing about?

As some among you will have discovered that this post is (just a little bit) about the movie “21” that started in March 2008 (US) and April 2008 (Germany). The full list of starts can be found on this website. Ben (Actor Jim Sturgess) is a very smart M.I.T. student who needs capital to pay university tuition. After invitation he joins a group of the institutes’ most gifted students which travel to Las Vegas nearly every weekend armed with fake identities and the know-how to shift the odds at blackjack to their benefit. The unorthodox math professor Micky Rosa (Actor Kevin Spacey) leading their way, they have developed a statistical approach to increase their chances to win. By counting cards and employing a secret system of hidden signals, the team can beat the casinos big time.

The movie is based on a true story of M.I.T students that identified the approach and hit Las Vegas’ casinos. It a really good movie and I recommend to visit the theaters. For those who interested to know a little bit more about the story I recommend this WIRED article “Hacking Las Vegas. THE INSIDE STORY OF THE MIT BLACKJACK TEAM’S CONQUEST OF THE CASINOS.” The article (2002) is based on “Bringing down the House: The inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions”.

Enjoy it!

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