Mike Aponte came from an army family, he spent his childhood moving around on a regular basis, but when he finally settled it was in Boston, Massachusetts as an undergrad student where he studied at MIT. Later he would settle in Washington D.C. with his wife; but much traveling would be done in the mean time.
Mike Aponte was first approached to play blackjack for the MIT team before it was actually the MIT team. The team’s predecessor was Strategic Investments, a legal entity formed in 1991 with the express plan of making millions – it failed. However the idea of a blackjack team in which money would be invested remained, and took new shape in 1994 with the creation of the MIT blackjack team. The MIT team, and along with it Mike Aponte, became famous through their wins but also through the book “Bringing Down the House” and the TV productions “Breaking Vegas” and “Anything for Money”.
In the course of the 6 years of MIT Blackjack Team’s hay-day, they won quite literally millions for their investors. The players would be backed by investors, they would have their expenses and a small percentage of the initial investment covered, and once the goal amount had been won the profits would be divided 50/50 between the player and the investor. At its peak, Mike Aponte was one of only 25 players on the MIT Blackjack Team which explained it’s continuous success. Eager to not repeat the mistakes of Strategic Investments, the MIT Blackjack Team streamlined its team and its tactics allowing only the best to play and sticking with the most straightforward of strategies. The methods engaged by the MIT Blackjack Team members were card counting, card steering and shuffle tracking. For Mike Aponte alone these methods procured for him his own personal largest win of $200, 000.
In 2000 Mike Aponte retired from the MIT Blackjack Team, removing his funds from the team bank. He had had 6 good years with the team and was grateful for the opportunities granted to him to play all across the world. By 2000 though all of the big players of the team were too well known to play on any significant table, a situation that Mike found frustrating and so he called it quits.
Leaving the team, however did not equate to leaving the game. Mike Aponte played in and won the first ever World Series of Blackjack in 2004, taking away a $100,000 prize and beating the likes of Ken Smith, Anthony Curtis and Stanford Wong; despite this being his first blackjack tournament ever. In addition, Mike is busy with the Blackjack Institute. Along with partner Dave Irvine, Mike Aponte runs Blackjack Institute; a website dedicated to tutoring advantage strategy play with an emphasis on visual aids for teaching card counting, money management and understanding the math of blackjack. The Blackjack Institute also facilitates seminars across North America in order that these strategies may be accessible to all and not just the MIT graduates.
Sam Marshall - Editorial Staff