As a member of the infamous MIT Blackjack Team, Jeff Ma created an ingenious method for counting cards—using talent, creativity, math, and teamwork to win millions in Las Vegas. (Card-counting, by the way, is not illegal; casinos just don’t like it). Ma was the inspiration for the best-selling book Bringing Down the House and the hit movie, 21, which topped the box office in its first two weeks. He has since helped start four different companies including GolfSpan.com (sold to Demand Media), CircleLending (sold to Virgin), Citizen Sports (sold to Yahoo) and tenXer (acquired by Twitter) and become a sought-after speaker. Ma shows companies how to harness the power of numbers to make better bottom line business decisions; decisions that, often, are the difference between winning and losing.
Beyond his work in the start up world, Ma has worked as a consultant to the San Francisco 49ers, the Portland Trail Blazers and a major apparel brand, helping them to make better decisions using data an analytics. His most recent book, “The House Advantage: Playing the Odds to Win Big in Business” was a business bestseller and draws on his unique experiences at the table and in the sports world creating a truly accessible work about business analytics.
At the blackjack table, and in the world of pro sports, Ma entered very emotional, "gut-feel" environments and achieved success by not only gathering the right data and analyzing it rationally, but also having the courage to follow through on the sometimes counterintuitive answers it provided. With stories drawn from sports and from Vegas, he helps you better visualize how a more rigorous approach to numbers will improve results in everything from sales to HR to strategy. Drawn from unique personal experiences, some examples of Ma’s incredible tales are recovering from losing $100,000 in two hands of blackjack, teaching Kevin Spacey how to count cards, and advising the Trail Blazers whether to pick Greg Oden or Kevin Durant.
Most recently, Ma's startup tenXer was acquired by Twitter where he now currently works as Director of Business Insights.