Blackjack is the most popular game at the casino and there has always been an aura of high-stakes, high-class action surrounding this game. This is in part thanks to the allure of card counting and of getting one over on the casino, and in part thanks to the appeal of casinos in general.
Not all of those films have been good, and in this article we’ll take a look at many of them, discussing what they got right and wrong about the game as we do so.
Perhaps the most famous film in recent years about blackjack, 21 tells the story of the MIT graduates who broke the bank in many Las Vegas casinos by counting cards. There were a group of them in on the con and they took a lot of money from the biggest casinos. This is a very accurate telling of that story, not to mention an entertaining one. Of course, it has been given the Hollywood treatment, with a little more action, drama and romance than perhaps the real story had, but it’s all in the name of entertainment.
The Last Casino
This is a Canadian film that also tells the story of the MIT students. This is a little more critically acclaimed and it hasn’t been given the Hollywood polish that often frustrates cinema goers. If you prefer independent films, art-house films and generally anything that is not produced by the automated minds in Hollywood, then this could be the perfect way to enjoy what is a fantastic true story.
A film about several old guys taking one last trip to the City of Sin, Last Vegas includes a scene where Morgan Freeman plays blackjack and does rather well at it. Initially his friends, along with the viewers, are led to believe that he has lost, but in the end we discover that he has won a small fortune. When he tries to leave the casino comp him and his friends a suite so they can “win the money back”.
Of course, if you win so much money at blackjack then there is a good chance they’ll kick your ass straight out, but many casinos do comp the best blackjack players, knowing that as long as they are not counting cards, their luck will run out eventually.
Although not about blackjack, this film does have a great scene that shows card counting at a blackjack table. In fact, because of this film many people have a skewed notion of just what card counting is. In this film Dustin Hoffman’s character knows exactly what card will come next, and whilst this will certainly come in handy (although it would require him to watch a lot of play in order to memorise those details, which is not even possible in many casinos) real card counting is not that complicated. A great film and a great scene, but diehard blackjack players might get a little frustrated by the lack of accuracy.
This late 90s film stars failing writer Clive Owen, who decides to become a croupier. This isn’t a fantastic film, but it’s enjoyable and it provides a realistic view of the inside of a casino, showing the inner workings. Casinos have come a long way since this film was made, but much of what it shows is still relevant in today’s casinos.