A Look Back At 21: The Ultimate Blackjack Movie


Blackjack is undoubtedly one of the most popular casino games in the world. Gambling is already an immensely popular pastime, and there are certainly some games that are constantly gathering crowds on the casino floor. Blackjack is one of those games.

One of the reasons why the game has become so popular is that it’s relatively easy to learn because of its simple betting mechanics. Ultimately, in blackjack, it’s the player going against the house in a battle to get a hand that either hits or gets closest to the value of 21 without exceeding it.

Another reason why blackjack is so popular is that it’s possible for players to strategize their way into winning. There are games like baccarat and roulette that rely mostly on luck. Typically, it’s the same with blackjack as well. A lot of players just rely on luck in order for them to win.

But because the way blackjack is structured, it can also be a mathematical exercise. This is a lot more difficult when you’re blackjack online for example wherein the game is run by software and programming. Casinos have made it harder for people to hack online systems. But in real life, some mathematical geniuses can actually count cards in order to increase their chances of them winning in the long run.

What’s 21 all about? It’s all abut blackjack…?


Credit: Columbia Pictures

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And there’s one particular movie from 2008 that showcased this theory in the most dramatic fashion. The film 21 follows an MIT student Ben Campbell played by Jim Sturgess. He is a brilliant mathematician who is in something of a financial bind, and he finds himself unable to pay his tuition fees.

But then, he finds out about a special group of students who are under the guidance and education of a professor named Mickey Rosa who is played by Kevin Spacey. As it turns out, these select groups of students are incredibly skilled at mathematics, and Rosa has been training them on how to count cards in order to win big in Las Vegas.

Unfortunately, they eventually find out that what they’re doing is frowned upon in Las Vegas, and the group ends up getting into trouble for it.

Our review of 21


Credit: Columbia Pictures

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There’s a certain thrill in gambling that the movie so perfectly represents on the big screen. In any kind of casino game, the odds are always stacked against the player. In other words, the house will always have the advantage to win.

However, this movie turns that principle on its own head and places more control in the hands of the actual players. The movie is highly dramatized, and even though it’s based on an actual true story, the odds aren’t as high as they make it seem.

Yes, it’s true that counting cards in Vegas is highly discouraged. But in the movie, they made the repercussions of counting cards in Vegas casinos seem much scarier and more serious than in real life. In all actuality, Las Vegas casinos (and most other casinos) have the right to refuse service to certain customers.

A lot of the time, once a casino starts noticing some funny business with a player and a blackjack table, management will step in and ask the player to leave the premises. In the movie, things are a lot more serious, and the students are made to feel like they’re genuinely breaking the law. Again, it’s not illegal, but it’s definitely frowned upon.

Spacey has been the subject of significant controversy as of late that may have tarnished his career. While 21 is far from his magnum opus as a character, the award-winning thespian still turned in a solid performance that fans came to expect of him. The movie itself follows a plot that’s fairly generic and predictable.

Even though it was based on a real-life story, there was a lot of creative liberty at play. Jim Sturgess also gave a very good performance as Ben Campbell and Kate Bosworth was a sight for sore eyes. Ultimately, 21 still shines as one of the most prominent blackjack movies in history. It may not have been Citizen Kane or anything like that, but it still served up solid performances, a decent script, and a compelling plot.


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