Movies about blackjack are way more common than you would think. Land based casinos make for fabulous film sets while gambling themes provide exciting storylines, so it’s no surprise that table games are often featured in the plots of Hollywood hits.
To keep the thrills rolling from the computer screen to the TV screen, we’ve compiled a list of the most memorable blackjack movies to ever come out of Hollywood, so grab the popcorn and settle yourself in for a good old fashioned movie marathon.
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This blackjack centred hit is based on the real life bestselling book Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich, the captivating tale of the MIT Blackjack Team who formed a card counting alliance in order to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in winnings from Las Vegas casinos.
The movie stars Kevin Spacey, Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth and Laurence Fishburne and was filmed on location at Planet Hollywood, the Hard Rock Casino and Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas, capturing the true essence of real life gambling.
The 21 team is made up of highly intelligent MIT students who undergo stringent training to establish a kick ass card counting network, working the blackjack table methodically with all kinds of secret gestures and strategies in place. To add to the screen-worthiness, there’s some romance, personal struggles, thefts and even a kidnapping thrown into the mix.
21 received a lot of criticism from blackjack experts at the unrealistic strategy in use, but ultimately, what can you expect from a big studio production? They’re not exactly going to hand out this sophisticated information for other punters to rip off.
MGM Resorts, the brand that owns the casinos where 21 was filmed, encouraged the making of the movie as they saw it as a way to bring punters through the doors of their casinos rather than inspiration for card counters to scheme the house.
21 is a great film to watch as blackjack is the very theme of the movie, but unlike the book from which it came, it’s also jammed down with a lot of unnecessary Hollywood melodrama. Regardless, it’s an exciting movie dedicated to the game we love most so it gets five stars from us even if the strategy is a bit off.
Yeah, yeah, we know that Rain Main isn’t exactly a blackjack movie, but this one makes it to our list without fail due to one of the most memorable blackjack scenes in Hollywood history. Rain Man is a 1988 classic starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise who play brothers Charlie and Raymond.
Raymond (Hoffman’s character) is autistic and has an almost superhuman memory, with a brain that works like a human calculator, which Charlie (Tom Cruise) takes advantage of by bringing him to a casino and getting Raymond to count cards.
Raymond’s photographic memory allows him to recall every card that’s already been dealt and which ones remain in the shoe, much to Charlie’s pleasure, as he’s currently struggling with debt.
The pair manages to make a killing before being asked to leave on the suspicion of card counting, although the casino bigwigs remain sceptical that any one person has the ability to count the six decks of cards in play.
Rain Man won multiple Oscars back in 1989 including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Original Screenplay, and is a touching and heart warming tale whether you are interested in blackjack or not. A must see!
Another movie that’s not themed around blackjack, but it makes our list due to the unforgettable blackjack scene and because this film perfectly captures everything about the Vegas experience. The Hangover was released in 2009 and still finds its way onto must see movie lists, establishing its place in comedy history.
The movie follows four friends who venture to Vegas for a bachelor party, but what was supposed to be a night of debauchery and partying turns into a disastrous string of events after one of the guys spike all their drinks and they all lose their memory.
The bachelor goes missing and the remaining trio have to piece together the events of the night in order to find him, resulting in a kidnapping gone awry where they’re required to pay a ransom of $80,000.
Strapped for cash, they head to the blackjack tables where Zach Galifianakis’s character uses his skills learned from the Edward Thorp book Beat the Dealer to count cards and raise $82,000 within hours.
Also starring Bradley Cooper and Heather Graham, The Hangover is everything your imagination wants Vegas to be and is a hilarious film that will also scratch your blackjack loving itch.
Other great casino themed movies
If you’re left wanting more after your movie marathon with the above films, here are our remaining top picks for blackjack or casino-centric movies:
- The Cooler
- Casino Royale
- The Gambler
- Ocean’s Eleven
- The Last Casino
As a dedicated blackjack player, it can be hard to watch movies about our beloved game and see basic rules or strategy applied in the wrong way, but just remember that what you’re watching is fiction and try to enjoy blackjack movies for the entertainment value for which they were intended.
We live and breathe the glorious game of 21, so when we’re not working on our blackjack strategy or playing a hand of blackjack, chances are you’ll find us watching or reading up about all things 21 related – so keep an eye out as we update this page regularly when a new movie takes the cake for one of our favourite blackjack films.