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Blackjack in the movies – inspiration for a big win?

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There have been plenty of iconic film moments in and around casinos over the years. The Ocean’s Eleven series springs to mind, and then there’s everyone’s favourite secret agent, who spends as much time in the top casinos of the world as he does in ladies’ bedrooms.

Of course, it’s not just the casino but what you do in it. You won’t catch Bond feeding coins into a slot machine with his martini balanced precariously on top, and although there are a few instances of him joining the action at the roulette wheel, it is usually the card tables where he can be found.

 

There’s no harm in a little card counting

The reason, no doubt, is that in a game of cards, there is much strategy as there is luck. There is also the potential for less than ethical behaviour. The very phrase card counting sounds like something either underhand or impossibly complicated. As is so often the case, the truth is not quite as dramatic as the movies. Glance through these blackjack strategy rules provided by Online Casino BlueBook and you will learn that card counting is simply a type of mental shorthand by which you can keep track of whether there are more high value or low value cards left to be dealt.

It’s not unethical, it’s not difficult and its just one of a whole range of strategies that card players use to improve their chances of beating the house. Nevertheless, the whole idea of blackjack in general and card counting, in particular, is one that Hollywood just can’t get enough of. Just look at these films, for example:

 

1) 21

Kevin Spacey’s off-screen scandal might mean he is persona non grata among the great and the good of Hollywood these days, but that doesn’t alter the fact that anything in his back catalogue is always worth a look. 21 is loosely based on the true story of the MIT Blackjack Team that took on the casinos of the world, largely successfully, using card counting and other strategies. For another take on the same theme, look out for The Last Casino – a Canadian made-for-TV production that is based on the same story.

2) Stacy’s Knights

If you were a young lady down on her luck in the early 80s, you would probably have jumped at the chance of Kevin Costner giving you a few blackjack lessons. That’s what happens to Andra Millan’s character, Stacy Lancaster, in this 1983 Jim Wilson production, and when the casino bosses eliminate Costner, Stacy puts together her own crack team of blackjack card counters to take revenge. 1980s kitsch at its best, don’t miss it!

3) Rain Man

It’s a classic in so many respects. Who would have thought Cruise and Hoffman would play off one another so well? In a film full of memorable scenes, the card counting is right up there with the best of them, and of course it was later spoofed in The Hangover. Well, they do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

 

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