Gambling is a fascinating topic for filmmakers, yet it usually serves either as a trigger to set things in motion on the screen or as a backdrop for what the real topic of the movie would be (think “Indecent Proposal”, where losing all their money puts the on-screen couple in a pretty sensitive situation, so to speak). Yet casino heists and cheaters often make for a great movie topic – several of the top 10 Vegas inspired movies use cheating as the main motor behind their on-screen action. The anticipation and the excitement of hitting a brick out of the wall of the massive gambling industry is an interesting topic, and it’s used at its best in some great products coming from Hollywood.
As a side note, cheating is only possible in a real life casino. Online casinos like the 7Sultans for example are built to prevent any and all attempts to influence the outcome of any game in its library. And this is not only a legal obligation. The 7Sultans relies on its reputation of a fair and safe venue to maintain its clientele. If the news broke that the 7Sultans or any other similar gaming venue cheated, nobody would visit it anymore – and this would mean that it would instantly go out of business.
In any event, here are some of the biggest cheaters in movie history:
Card counting is not technically cheating – it’s merely using one’s abilities and skills to calculate the probability of winning or losing a blackjack hand. Still, it’s a method to bend the odds in the players’ favor, and it’s frowned upon in Vegas and other casinos around the world. The MIT Blackjack Team used card counting and a series of other, more sophisticated methods to beat a series of casinos at blackjack. They were named after their alma mater – all of them were students or ex-students of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Between 1980 and 1990, the team gathered a capital of around $350,000.
The misadventures of the team have been immortalized on the silver screen in a movie, called 21, released in 2008.
In the third movie in the Ocean’s series, Danny Ocean and the crew set out to avenge Reuben Tishkoff, one of the original Eleven, who has been double-crossed by ruthless casino owner Willy Bank. The crew uses small-scale magnetrons – high-power microwave generating devices – to determine the gaming machines in Bank’s newest casino to pay out big wins to the players, then – with the help of a massive tunnel drilling machine – they simulate an earthquake to get all the winners leave the casino before they could lose their winnings.
The Echelon Conspiracy
Last but not least, let’s take a look at the case when the cheater is not a man – it’s a machine. Max, a young American engineer, sees his life change when he receives a mysterious mobile phone as a gift. The messages he receives change his life – first, he gains a ton of cash on a stock transaction, then he wins big on blackjack. His winning streak ends when he hits the jackpot at a Prague casino – instead of three million euros, Max gets a pair of handcuffs and a visit from a CIA operative that’s after the mysterious artificial intelligence, Echelon.