MIT Blackjack Player Explains Falcons’ Super Bowl Loss
Last week the former leader of the MIT Blackjack Team Jeff Ma explained how the Atlanta Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in the third quarter of Super Bowl 51, claiming the team ignored the odds which then caused them to lose the championship.
Ma explained that football, like blackjack has a strategy sheet that has been developed over the course of thousands of contests over the decades. Ma argues that those strategies either enhance or reduce the team’s chances of winnings for every decision made, and that the Falcons effectively played bad strategy.
During the third quarter of the game, the Falcons held a 28-3 lead over the New England Patriots, and almost every calculator available gave the Falcons between a 99% and 99.8% chance of winning the game. However, Ma claims that the Falcons made several errors that reduced those odds, which allowed the Tom Brady led team to complete an epic comeback by forcing the game to overtime, where they scored the decisive touchdown to take the Lombardi Trophy.
The Falcons’ began their collapse by not running the clock down to less than 10 seconds to snap the ball, sometimes running a play with more than 20 seconds on the clock. Ma explains that this is akin to standing on a soft 17 with an Ace and a six, which is a huge strategic error.
Compounding things was the team’s decision to stop running the ball, which would have kept the clock running and thus improved the Falcons’ odds of winning. The team had been playing aggressively all night, and until midway through the third quarter it worked. Unfortunately, an inability to adjust to the situation led them to fall apart, and complete the largest comeback in Super Bowl history.
Jeff Ma famously attending MIT and took part in the group’s legendary blackjack team, which had massive success as it raided casinos throughout the country. The group implemented various card counting strategies and won large sums of money in the process. Ma wrote the book Bringing Down the House, and currently serves as the Senior Director of Analytics for tenXer, which is owned by Twitter.
Source: Jeff Ma Explains Falcons’ Loss
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