Cinema’s greatest card counters

3 minutes



Card counting was a great technique for winning big in casinos in the past. While it’s not so common today, it made several players and groups millionaires until they were caught. It’s considered cheating by casinos, although the process is so complex that we’d call it anything but.

Thanks to the cult built around it, card counting has appeared in many films over the years. Gambling Hollywood flicks are pretty popular nowadays thanks to the undying popularity of casinos and sportsbooks in the USA. Online casino and sports betting in the US is becoming more popular as legal restrictions are changing across the states.

Many of the biggest sports teams in the US have now partnered with sportsbooks and casino, so you can expect to see more adverts and coverage on your screen. And, while playing online is pretty big right now, you can’t count cards in online casinos. Well, it is possible, but very hard.

Below you’ll find our top five movie list that features card counters.

21 (2008)

21 is one of the most famous movies on the topic of casino gambling. It’s even based on the legendary MIT blackjack team that ravaged casinos in the 1970s. Of course, the movie is just loosely based on that story, transferring the action to the modern era.

It stars Kevin Spacey in the lead role teaching a team of young MIT students the art of card counting. They then proceed to destroy casinos for big money in an enjoyable trip that shows the benefits and disadvantages of the controversial technique.

The Card Counter (2021)

Released in 2021, The Card Counter is a tale of intrigue and a personal drama with Oscar Isaac in the lead role. He’s an ex convicted military interrogator who’s making just enough money with card counting to get by. The past comes back to haunt him soon, with Isaac’s character bonding with a younger player on casino tables.

Of course, card counting is a big part of the story. Oscar Isaac delivers an Oscar-worthy performance in a movie that gamblers will surely enjoy.

Rain Man (1988)

The 1988 classic starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman is one of the top card counting movies in Hollywood, if not the best. It won four Oscars and was nominated for a total of eight. Hoffman’s performance as Cruise’s autistic savant brother is iconic, and so is the movie from start to finish. It explores a deeper side of card counting and shows exactly how profitable it can be.

The Last Casino (2004)

The Last Casino is a TV movie that sort of flies under the card counting radar. Released in 2004, it’s 21’s predecessor with other actors and different writing. It’s still a great movie with a familiar story that card counter hopefuls and gambling fans will enjoy.

The Hot Shoe (2005)

The Hot Shoe is a 2005 documentary about the controversial card counting technique. It explores how it was used in the past and how the MIT blackjack team came to be. What makes it unique is the fact that the director used $5,000 out of his pocket to learn card counting from pros. He then put that knowledge to the test on the screen which resulted in this brilliant documentary.

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