Welcome to our big special on the best Blackjack movies of all time. We’ve chosen our Top 4 from a long list of movies, that deals with the game of Blackjack in one way or another.
We’ll skip right to the chase, and get started with the first one on the list, which is the classic Blackjack movie “21”.
Also The Croupier, Rainman and the odd choice The Hangover made the shortlist. Check it out below!
The MIT Blackjack team in the USA made in the region of $4 million dollars by playing Blackjack in Las Vegas during the 1990s. The actual amount has never been confirmed by any of the team members, however it is true to say that the 6 team members were able to create a card counting system using their mathematical genius to win very large sums of money in the Las Vegas venues.
They managed to win vast sums of money through their system of team work which had ‘Counters’ and ‘Big Players’ who worked secretly in the casinos at the Blackjack tables without acknowledging that they knew one another. Eventually the casinos identified the scam of card counting through their security counters and banned the team from the tables.
The film referred to as a ‘heist drama film’ is based on the actual true story of the 6 students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as written in the famous book ‘Bringing Down the House’ written by Ben Mezrich. The film ‘21’ was launched in 2008 and was a box office success with the public sympathizing with the main character Ben Cambell who was a mathematics student at MIT accepted to study at Harvard Medical School but who couldn’t find the $300,000 fees to do so. The young man had outstanding exam results but was still required to pay the massive fees despite his brilliance unless he could ‘dazzle’ the director of the school who had just one scholarship to award for the medical school.
The professor at MIT who taught mathematics, Micky Rosa also ran a Blackjack team for after class entertainment and when Ben successfully resolved a special test set for him set by his Prof to test his mathematical genius he was invited to join the team. The team was carefully trained to run a perfect card counting system and split into roles of counters and big players, going on weekend trips to Las Vegas where they won huge sums of cash by implementing the strategy. The film has some romantic intrigue between the main player Ben and a female team member Jill giving it some essential spice amidst the mathematics and Blackjack strategy.
Ben’s life took a bad turn when he was distracted by the luxurious Blackjack funded lifestyle that he didn’t complete his part of an important engineering project prompting his professor, Micky Rosa to mark his work as incomplete, creating a lot of trouble between them as Ben could not graduate from MIT and making problems with the other members.
The worst happened when he refused to walk away from the Blackjack table in a particular game in Las Vegas, ignoring the sign to leave and lost $200,000 for the team. The head of the team Micky Rosa demanded the money from Ben who refuses to pay up and the Blackjack team split up with Ben and 3 colleagues opting to go it alone. Ben found that his winnings were stolen from the dormitory after being beaten physically by the pit boss in the casino. However it was decided after reconciling with the team to go back to Las Vegas before Biometric facial recognition was installed by the casinos in order to win some more money. Rosa was set up by Ben who suspected him of stealing his winnings and was stopped by the pit boss Williams who had lost his job and wanted money as compensation for his personal ruin.
The pit boss, Williams threatened Rosa and Ben with a gun and they handed over the winnings to him, leaving to re-join the team that had been counting cards and winning all night. The film ends on a positive note with Ben telling the whole story to the Harvard Medical School director, successfully ‘dazzling’ him and by implication winning the scholarship to the medical school. This a film that is definitely worth watching and shows how Blackjack is more than a simple game of cards but can change lives and careers in a big way.
Blackjack is a tremendously popular casino game and its popularity has spread to the most remote corners of the earth with the help of the internet and the excellent online casinos that have brought the pleasure of online gaming to millions of people in the comfortable surroundings of their own homes. An interesting variety of movies with a Blackjack or purely a gambling theme have made it to the box office and everyone is talking about them as they catch the essence of the casino action with added drama and romance giving that all important spice to give the movies a lift.
The neo-noir film The Croupier was released in 1999 starring Clive Owen as Jack Manfred a South African writer who is not achieving his writing goals who gets a job as a casino croupier through his father’s contacts with a small time criminal, in order to make a living. As soon as he gets involved with a cheating fellow croupier Matt, who is played by Paul Reynolds his life begins to go downhill.
He begins an illicit affair with a female croupier Bella and is found out by his girlfriend Marion played by Gina Mckee. The girlfriend leaves him as does Bella and Jack sinks further into the mire when a gambler named Jani does her best to make friends with him and involves him in a plot that is meant to lead to the casino being robbed. Jack receives a $10,000 advance for his part as inside man in the casino robbery plot however things go wrong and eventually Jack is terrified for his life.
A late night knocks on his door brings the awful news from a policeman that his ex girlfriend Marion who he was trying to make up with was killed in a hit and run accident prompting him to think about his life’s work.
Jack feels bound to finish his book about a croupier in a casino and despite making a lot of money after publishing the book he continues to work as a croupier without buying the expensive car he had dreamt of or changing his lifestyle.
The gambler Jani who had involved him in the criminal plot phones to say that she had benefited financially from the plot and his father takes the phone from Jani who is obviously his accomplice to say that he too had made money from the criminal plot. It becomes evident that it was the intent of Jack’s father to involve his son in the crime in order that he would benefit personally with his friend much to Jack’s amusement and surprise.
To put a romantic ending to the story, Jack opens the door to the croupier that he had first met at the casino, Bella who embraces him leaving the audience to guess about what would be the ‘ever after’ ending!
The film had many critics, however it is said that it was meant to show how life is a replica of the world of casino games which are all based on an element of chance. Whilst we may think that as individuals we control our own destiny, life cannot be fully controlled but has many aspects to it that can never be foreseen or controlled which is what gives people’s lives the thrills and the disappointments which replicate a rollercoaster ride from beginning to bitter end. The film is said to have a neo noir theme which emphasizes the dramatic aspect of the theme as was done in the films of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Alfred Hitchcock used this type of format in his famous film psycho, an unforgettable movie which made history.
Rainman is a 1988 film that showed the talents of Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman who starred in this renowned film which made the general public become aware of the disease autism. The selfish car dealer played by Tom Cruise discovers upon his father’s death that there is somebody else who should inherit from the estate that he didn’t know about and it turns out to be a brother who has lived all his life in a mental home.
Tom Cruise goes to find the brother Dustin Hoffman and whilst at first he is shocked and tries to use the illness of his brother to try and gain more of the estate than he was entitled to he eventually grows fond of him. He does discover that the autistic brother has incredible powers of recall and can remember numbers and cards making him a great Blackjack player as he can count cards without any difficulty. He then takes him to Las Vegas in order to use him to win in Blackjack, however after a period of time together he does become more protective of his brother and in the end he genuinely wants custody of him so that he can look after him as a real brother.
The movie focuses the viewer on the mental capacity of people who can count cards and how they can win huge amounts of money at Blackjack. Many card counting books have been published and thousands of Blackjack players make a determined attempt to learn to count cards prompting an adverse reaction in ground based casinos. Since the popularity of online Blackjack, card counting is no longer of any value as the random number generator that acts as the dealer in online casinos shuffles the cards after every hand. However there are many excellent strategies that can be learned and help players to reduce the advantage of the house when playing Blackjack online.
There have been several movies made with a Blackjack theme running through it and the movie that was launched in 2009 ‘The Hangover’ has some interesting Blackjack sequences which place it on the list of Blackjack movies. The film came in as the 10th highest earner at the box office that year and received the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for 2009. The action was actually filmed in Nevada as the setting is in Las Vegas where several young men go to have a bachelor party before the wedding of one of the group. The men wake up with the hotel in disarray, a baby and a tiger that nobody knows anything about as it transpires that they were given drugs secretly that erased all memory of what occurred the night before.
The men find that their troubles are multiplied by the minute with arrests by the police and the discovery of a Chinese man in the boot of their car who says that they stole $80,000 from him the night before. To avoid a miserable revenge they go to the Blackjack tables where one of the men plays Blackjack using card counting strategies to win the cash needed to pay back the Chinese man.
The Blackjack scenes are authentic and thrilling making them a focal point of the film and attracting Blackjack fans to view the film. The whole movie is very funny because of the predicaments that the men find themselves in without their own knowledge. The plot was written based on a real life experience of the friend of the producer and director who woke up in a strip club after his own bachelor party, faced with a huge bill that he was told to pay even though he had no idea how it all came about as he had passed out.
The Hangover is amusing and fun giving the viewer an excellent entertainment experience and an appreciation of the difficulties of card counting in the game of Blackjack.