Playing blackjack: Lessons from the movies

Blackjack is arguably the most popular online casino table game. The game offers players plenty of room to utilise strategies to reduce the house advantages to a bare minimum and manipulate the game outcome.

The game has become so popular that it has become the subject matter for several movies. Movie fans are kept at the edge of their seats by lights, noise, quick-paced action scenes and character depth.

Blackjack rules are the same worldwide and couldn’t have been simpler—get a hand as close to, but not exceeding 21. But while that sounds simple enough, you learn and become a better blackjack player every day. Most movies thrive on more fiction than facts, but still, players can learn a thing or two about playing blackjack from watching these movies.


You may prefer to watch the 2008 Hollywood version or the 2004 Canadian version—either way, 21 tops the list of casino-inspired movies. The movie, which is based on a true story, follows a group of six MIT students who follow their compulsive-gambling professor to play blackjack in Las Vegas casinos. The blackjack team is introduced to an intricate card-counting system that allows them to significantly boost their chances of winning. After they master the strategy, take on several Vegas casinos and start living a new, lavish lifestyle.

The obvious lesson from this movie is that card-counting is an effective strategy for winning blackjack. What the movie fails to put across is the fact that you don’t have to have the math skills of an MIT student to count cards. You can play blackjack online and hone your skills using blackjack strategy cards. It does take a bit of time to learn to count cards, but you’ll eventually get the hang of it. A good place to start is to read the blackjack guide available at

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

This first instalment of the Austin Powers movies was directed by Jay Roach and released in 1997. While not specifically a gambling-inspired movie, Austin Powers is a spoof on James Bond and the Dr No and has numerous hilarious scenes. In one scene, the British spy, Austin Powers had been frozen in the 1960s and finally thaws in the 90s. He then has to face the infamous No. 2 and his charismatic secretary, Alotta Fagina at a high-stakes game of blackjack at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas.

In this memorable scene, No.2 sees that the next card in the shoe is a four using his X-Ray eye patch. He then goes against the dealer’s advice and insists on hitting on 17, claiming that he likes to live dangerously. Austin Powers then draws a five and decides to stay against the dealer’s advice, and also saying that he likes to live dangerously. The dealer pulls a pair of kings and Austin loses. The lesson here is to hit on 5, and unless you have a pair of X-Ray eyes, never hit on hard 17.

Rain Main

This classic 1988 blackjack comedy was directed by Barry Levinston and follows the lives of two very different brothers. The movie’s most memorable moment is when Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise come down a Caesar’s Place elevator in matching suits. Tom Cruise then quips, “Rain Man, let’s play some cards”. Because Dustin Hoffman’s character, Raymond, can count a six-deck shoe of cards.

The two brothers take the house to the cleaners at the blackjack table. They then lose it all at “The Big Wheel” because Ray can’t quantify the game as he could with blackjack.The key takeaway from this movie is to stay in your lane.


This 1996 indie movie helped launch Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn’s careers. The movie starts with the pair travelling from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to enjoy some exciting blackjack action at the Fremont Hotel and Casino. This one has a double lesson—Mike starts by sitting at a table with a $100 limit, which was way beyond his bankroll. As if that wasn’t enough, he then doubled down on 11, which brought his stake to $200. The dealer deals him a 7, bringing his hand to 18, and promptly beats him with blackjack (2, 4, 5 king combination).

The two lessons here are to play at tables whose limits you can afford and never double down unless you can afford to.

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