The MTA has an ace in the hole.
Jane Willis, the wife of incoming New York Transit president Richard Davey, is a legendary blackjack card counter who was a member of the infamous MIT blackjack team in the early 1990s that took casinos for millions.
The team’s exploits inspired the bestselling 2003 book “Bringing Down the House” and later dramatized in the 2008 film “21” starring Kevin Spacey. Willis was played by Kate Bosworth.
“She picked it up really quickly,” Jeff Ma, a former teammate and now a vice president at Microsoft, told The Post.
Willis, 52, was a Harvard Law student when she and then-boyfriend Kyle Schaffer were recruited to the team by Ma.
Willis’ job was to act as a spotter, or keep track of decks that were “hot” — meaning they had an overrepresentation of high cards and were statistically more likely to hold winning hands. She would then signal to Ma to start making big bets.
She evaded detection at many of Las Vegas’ marquee casinos because security couldn’t believe a woman would be part of a counting scheme.
“She’s brilliant. She’s super smart,” Ma continued. “I think the group won around $5 million dollars over the seven years that we did this.”
Willis was paid only a small percentage of the overall take.
Professional gambling was never Willis’ forte, however, and she left the glamour of the tables to pursue her law career.
She is currently a partner at white-shoe firm Ropes and Gray and focuses on “complex business litigation and antitrust matters,” according to her company profile.
“Card counting involves making sure you have a significant bet at stake when the cards are in your advantage,” Willis told Harvard Law Today in 2008. “Likewise, in litigation strategy, you want to maximize opportunities when you have the advantage.”
The attorney kept her involvement in the team secret for years, out of fear it might damage her career advancement.
Even her own parents, Sandra and Alan Willis, were kept in the dark and didn’t find out until someone brought it up at a dinner with their daughter in 2004.
“I looked at Jane and said, ‘Well, we’ll have to hear more about that,’ ” Sandra Willis told the Boston Globe in 2008. “This is one aspect of Jane. It just happens to be an amusing and adventurous aspect.”
Willis did not respond to multiple inquiries from The Post.
“She hates being in the press, you should assume she’s not interested in participating. No offense,” husband Richard Davey told The Post.