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Colin’s Thoughts on the Documentary

Holy Rollers, which documents several years of our blackjack team, was just released.     It’s apparently one of the top 5 documentaries and independent films on iTunes right now and we’ve been doing interviews for the past several weeks for media sources from CNN and New York Times to the Christian Broadcasting Network. I’m pretty sure I’m going to murder the next person who asks me, “Isn’t card counting illegal?” It’s been interesting to see this whole project come to fruition, so we thought we’d share a few of our thoughts about the film. Below are my (Colin’s) thoughts. Ben’s will be forthcoming.

There are tons of things I’m proud of when I think about this film. In general, I am glad to be a part of this whole experience, and my desire is that the card counting community and general population really enjoy the story. Here are some of the things I love about the movie:

  • Stylistically, it’s way more impressive than I could have ever imagined. The film maker did a great job filming, editing, and doing the graphics for the movie. The music fits well and everything is super slick.
  • It tells a compelling story. I think the film stands on its own as a documentary about a large scale blackjack team OR a documentary about Christians doing something some people believe Christians shouldn’t do. The overwhelming response is that it’s a compelling movie.
  • It accurately portrays the life of a professional Blackjack player. This has been one of the coolest parts for me. Having spent nearly a decade of my life making money from card counting, it is difficult how few people actually get what we do or what it’s like. I remember watching “The Hot Shoe” with Ben and a few friends early on, and it was so awesome to see real card counters talking about the job. I think anyone who has played blackjack professionally or just wants to know more about what it’s really like will really enjoy watching those parts of the film.
  • It creates conversation. Our main goal with letting people create a film about our Blackjack team was that it would cause people to question and discuss things that are taboo in society, whether it’s card counting or what it means to be a Christian.
  • Someone was able to document (what will probably be the most interesting and exciting) chapter of my life.  Many of my best friends were a part of the team and I seriously doubt I’ll ever be a part of something as interesting as our Blackjack team. Yeah, there are a few scenes in it that make me cringe, wishing I could explain better, or even because I’ve changed as a person over the past 5 years. But I’m okay with that. And it really is an honor to have this piece of history to show my friends, kids and grandkids for years to come.

     There are a couple things that are either misinterpreted, misrepresented, or not fully explained. It’s important to me that people get an accurate understanding of what we care about and how we operate, so let’s get those couple things out of the way:

  • We didn’t start the team with the primary goal of freeing money from the clutches of casinos. We enjoy taking money from casinos. It’s been well documented that casinos destroy communities. But, unfortunately, some people get the impression we started a blackjack team with the noble goal of taking money from casinos. That wasn’t the case.Taking money from destructive corporations is just an awesome byproduct! We ran the team because it was incredibly fun and it was a way to provide for our families, giving us the freedom to spend more time and energy on the things we care about. We used the money the same way we would have if we had started a carpet cleaning business (whether it was to buy groceries, property, or give it to charity).
  • It wasn’t a “Christian blackjack team.” My faith is the most important thing to me. But we’ve gotten some flack because one of the sequences in the film has led people to think that there was a conspiracy against one particular non-christian on the team, which isn’t true. First off, he wasn’t the only non-christian on the team. And we didn’t go on some sort of a witch hunt because of losing streaks.  Deciding who to work with in a business like this, or any small business for that matter, is really tricky and can have huge implications. We parted ways with many people over the years if we believed they weren’t a good fit for the team. A lot of those decisions were difficult, and we never knew if we were making the right decision (we may never know if some of the decisions we made were the right decision).  But it’s important to me that people realize the decisions to part ways with any players on the team were based on what we believed to be best for the business as well as all people involved. And for what it’s worth, the guy who gets “questionably fired” is still a friend and he has expressed to me that there are no hard feelings about the decision.
  • There were lots of ups and downs over the years. It’s easy to get the impression that we were winning a ton, then something went wrong and we stopped winning. But over the years, with the amount we were betting, we experienced things all over the place. When filming started, we were in the middle of the largest positive swing we have ever experienced. Less than a year before, we lost over half our bankroll in a month. With the size of the team, we were always battling keeping playing standards high, but it was much more of a roller-coaster experience than a simple up-then-down graph. I don’t think we were doing anything particularly “right” when we were winning, nor were we doing anything particularly “wrong” during any given losing streak. Anyone who’s done this job for long can relate to the swings. Those (of us) who continue to play still experience success, but it is a marathon, not a sprint!
     If you’ve gotten a chance to see it, we’d love to engage in more conversation, either in the comments section below or in the Member’s Forum.
     If you’re interested in seeing the film, you can buy it on DVD through our website here. It’s also available through Video on Demand, iTunes, and a million other streaming sources.
Cheers!

by Colin Jones

12 Responses to “Colin’s Thoughts on the Documentary”

  1. Taylor says:

    I have learned alot about blackjack and casinos from you guys… Love the lessons,videos, website, etc, for that reason I rented the video. However I am not sure I wiser now after watching it. I didn’t expect to be overly entertained nor did I want to be, I was expecting more insight to casino actin and play, I can appreciate footage within the casinos is and would be difficult to get…. With this all being said I my jury is still out on rating the video.

  2. Taylor says:

    Whoops, should have read before I sent… iPad touch screen is brutal

  3. Jarod says:

    I cant find this on Itunes, is it still up for sale on itunes?

  4. Colin says:

    Jarod,

    Yeah! Go to Movies on iTunes Store and try searching for it. Or if you click on “Documentary”, it’s currently #4 under “top documentary” and is #5 under “new and noteworthy.”

  5. Matt says:

    Just got the movie in the mail tonight. I was super excited to see it and it was everything I hoped for and more… I had no idea you guys were Christians until the movie was released, which really makes everything even including this sight so much more exciting.. loved how the movie showed some bootcamps.. i looked over at my skeptical buddy sitting next to me and yelled, “I can not wait to be there and meet those guys!!”

  6. Colin says:

    Matt,

    Thanks for the kind comments. I’m glad you enjoyed the movie.

    Hope to meet you sometime!

  7. Trevor says:

    I will be watching the movie and hope to learn something from it. I will say that I’m pretty disappointed to see all the publicity this film has gotten. It’s understandable to some degree because it’s likely to be a moneymaker, and I can’t fault anyone for wanting to make money. However, it seems that it will make things much harder for those of us who are still actively “in the trenches”.

  8. admin says:

    Trevor,

    I wouldn’t worry about it effecting those who are still actively playing. Everyone thought “21″ would be really bad for card counters… nothing happened. And that had a much larger reach than this little documentary. Hell, I even played last weekend just for fun. I was counting cards in front of a pit boss who’s backed me off at another casino, all while my picture and story was in the front section of the local newspaper that same day. There are so many casinos and so little time!

    Hope you enjoy the flick!

  9. EvilEye says:

    I look forward to watching your movie. I spent several years watching you and your team from the Surveillance room, and always enjoyed seeing you guys show up, as it gave a break from the boredom of the job. We never had a name for your team though, so I’m glad that there’s something to call you guys, even though you’re “semi-retired.”
    Thanks for the entertainment.
    EvilEye

  10. Kevin says:

    Love the bit about creating conversation. Needs to happen more often, especially within the Christian Church. Keep it up!

  11. Lance says:

    I am in the middle of watching your movie/documentary now and have to say, woW!! I’m inspired by what you all have accomplished and the incredible team you’ve built. Do you accept applications for additional players still? I was wondering if there is a process you have for that? Again, really love what you’ve done for each other and the kingdom!

  12. Colin says:

    Lance,
    Thanks for the kind words. Neither Ben or I are currently running a team. Any play I’ve done since the larger team has been with people I’ve known and played with for years, just because it’s not my primary source of income at the moment.

    Thanks again for the feedback and questions.

Next Bootcamp Trainings: June 28th and 29th, 2014!

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