October 25, 1968 |
Moscow, Soviet Union
|Alma mater||Columbia University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
|Occupation||Angel Investor, Professional blackjack player, entrepreneur|
|Known for||Member of Strategic Investments
Founder of Amphibian Investments
Semyon Dukach is an angel investor, the Chairman of SMTP, Inc. (OTCBB: SMTP), and a former professional blackjack player with the MIT Blackjack Team. He played with Strategic Investments and later was one of the founding members and team leaders on Amphibian Investments whose exploits were chronicled in Ben Mezrich's Busting Vegas and referred to in Mezrich's Bringing Down the House. Dukach was the main character in Busting Vegas and the only member of the MIT blackjack team to be referred to by his real name in either book.
Born on the 25th of October 1968 in Moscow, Dukach moved to the US in 1979 at the age of 11. He completed a BS in Computer Science at Columbia University in New York in 1990 and a MS in Computer Science at MIT in Boston in 1993.
While attending MIT, Dukach was trained as a player on the MIT Blackjack team whose exploits were loosely depicted in the Hollywood movie 21. At a young age he had developed an interest in video games and specifically Pac Man. Semyon became proficient at the game by reading Ken Uston's Mastering PAC-MAN. This led him to read Uston's other titles on blackjack, giving him a solid grounding in card counting when he was approached to play with the team.
Starting out with Strategic Investments (SI) in 1992, Dukach was a major player on the team and enjoyed great success in those early years. At the end of 1993 SI dissolved and Semyon was involved in a team effort with the remaining players from SI for the next year. By 1995 Dukach and a few players split off from that team and formed a second, independent team. This new team was referred to as the Amphibians and the team that they left was referred to as the Reptiles.
Since stopping play in the late 1990s, Dukach's involvement in blackjack has been limited. He used to offer seminars teaching the techniques that were used by the Amphibians to prospective players at BlackjackScience.com, however he has now passed this business over the author of The Blackjack Life, Nathaniel Tilton.
Xconomy lists Semyon as a top Angel Investor in New England. According to his website EarlyGlobal.com, he has invested in a wide range of start up companies, and provides marketing and team building advice to companies he invests in. Some of his investments include helmet vending machine startup, HelmetHub, and intercity ground transport aggregator Wanderu (company).
He has also been involved in many other notable ventures outside of his blackjack and angel investing career:
- Authored work on virtual reality at IBM Research in 1988
- Authored a 1992 e-commerce paper on SNPP: A Simple Network Payment Protocol
- Founded Fast Engines in 1997, sold to Adero in 2000 
- Co-founded Vert in 1998
- Lead investor and interim CEO of AccuRev in 2001 
- Chairman and CEO of SMTP, Inc.
- Co-founded PDFFiller
- Was a CEO mentor at the Cambridge Business Development Center
- Founded StartupHive.org
- Board Director of Terrafugia 
- "Xconomy: Top Angel Investors of New England". Retrieved 2013-05-02.
- "Xconomy: Semyon Dukach Takes SMTP Public". Retrieved 2011-05-04.
- Kahn, Joseph P. (2006-05-10). "Boston Globe Semyon Dukach Profile". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2011-04-17.
- Blackjack Science
- "ThePOGG Interviews - Semyon Dukach - MIT Card Counting Team Captain". Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- "ThePOGG Interviews - Nathaniel Tilton author of 'The Blackjack Life'". Retrieved 6 March 2013.
- Design for Interactive Performance in A Virtual Laboratory - Wang, Koved, Dukach (ResearchIndex)
- SNPP: A Simple Network Payment Protocol - Dukach
- Network World
- "AccuRev, Inc. Releases Version 2.5 of AccuRev/CM With an Integrated Issue Tracking System June 18, 2001". Business Wire. 2001.
- Blackjack Experts Article
- Mass. High Tech
- Regan, Keith (2011-01-28). "Future poised for takeoff for maker of flying cars". Boston Business Journal.