Blackjack In Movies | Counting Cards & Casino Capers

Since it was first played in the 17th century, blackjack has been an incredibly popular casino game.

Formally known as twenty-one, this game was renamed blackjack because of the bonus that US players were given when one of the first two cards a player had was one of the black jacks and the ace of spades.

Since then, it’s quickly become one of the most popular games in casinos and gambling houses. That’s why Hollywood has used it as the centre of many of its films due to the thrill and excitement of blackjack card counting.

Looking for some blackjack goodness? Here are some movies to get you in the counting mood:

1. 21

21 blackjack - HeadStuff.org
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21 tells the story of a group of MIT students who are taught how to play blackjack and count cards by their professor. Released in 2008, this retelling of a true story was a huge production, featuring the likes of Lawrence Fishburne, Jim Sturgess and Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey. Albeit amid whitewashing controversies and a poor showing at the box office, 21 is an enjoyable romp through card counting and melodrama. 

2. Rain Man

This has to be one of the most well-loved films that features card counting. Boasting an Eddie award, two Golden Globes and an impressive four Academy Awards, Rain Man is an undeniable classic. Starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, the film is best known for the scenes within the casino and the iconic escalator shot. The card counting scene was later spoofed in The Hangover and Zach Galifianakis becoming a celebrated meme.

Blackjack The Hangover - HeadStuff.org

3. Stacy’s Knights

Starring Andra Millian and Kevin Costner, this classic film which was released in 1983 tells the tale of a young woman (Millian) who’s taught to count cards (by Costner) so she has the chance to win big. Unfortunately, those pesky casino bosses don’t like to lose money so (SPOILER) have Costner killed off! This leaves Millian with no option but to reap her revenge and train her own team of card counters to take the casino for all it has got.

4. The Last Casino

Another film that follows the incredibly popular story of a group of college students who go on a spree of blackjack winnings after been taught how to count cards, The Last Casino is 21’s predecessor, having been released in 2004. This Canadian made-for-TV movie looks and feels like an early noughties made-for-TV movie but that’s part of its charm. Will they get the half a mill they need, or get discovered before the deadline?

5. The Hot Shoe

For a real-life look at card counting, this is your film. This 2005 documentary-style film looks at the history of card counting.  Directed by David Layton, this film mixes interviews with card counters, casino workers and gambling experts while also delving into the strategies and the math behind card counting. Layton then goes on to put his newfound knowledge to the test, gambling part of the film’s budget ($5,000) to try and win big at blackjack. Whether or not he succeeds is something you’ll need to watch the film for.

While many of these films won’t teach you all you need to know about card counting, they do offer a fun and entertaining insight into the world of blackjack and its controversial history.


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