Card Counting in the Movies - "The Hangover" - Blackjack Apprenticeship

Card Counting in the Movies – “The Hangover”


Ed, Alan, Phil and Doug are driving towards Vegas in a classic Mercedes with the top down.  Alan is reading a book on card counting.

Ed – “Isn’t card counting illegal?”

Alan – “No.  Its just frowned upon, like masturbating in an airplane.”

Phil – “I’m pretty sure that is illegal too.”

The Hangover is in the theaters.  It is a movie from the director of Old School about four friends who go to Vegas for a bachelor party weekend.  Alan, the brother of the groom, and a bit of an oddball, unwittingly spikes everyone’s drink with Ruphies (the date rape drug) thinking he was giving everyone ecstasy.  The next day they wake up and can’t remember a single thing that happened

thehangoverpic4Well, a lot happened it turns out.  One such happening was losing 80K of an Asian Gangster’s money.  The gang takes Doug hostage and they have to come up with the 80K by sunup or they will never see Doug again.

Alan, the oddball, has read a book on counting cards so they head off to a blackjack table.  Complicated equations appear on the screen as Alan (played brilliantly by Zach Galifianakis) watches the cards intently.  Finally, he sits down, calls his friends in, and starts betting big.

There is a 3 minute montage of everyone winning, pressing their bets and winning more.  Finally the pit boss begins to get suspicious and is making calls.  They notice the heat and take off before anything can happen.  They have won 80K – exactly what they need to rescue their friend.

The Hangover is a geeky guy bonding movie and not meant at all to be taken seriously.  But if someone asks you if that card counting thing you are into is like the scene in this movie they just saw, then you can politely educate them:

  1. Is Counting Cards illegal or just “frowned upon”?  Alan is right on this one.  It is just “frowned upon”.  If a casino thinks you are counting cards they will typically watch you for a while to decide whether you are a real threat to them or not.  If they decide you are a threat then they will simply ask you to stop playing.  You are not going to get in trouble and you certainly are not going to get arrested or beat up.
  2. Can you make 80K in one hour like those guys seemed to do?  Yes.  You can make that kind of KaChing.  But here is the thing: if you are betting with enough money to win that much that fast, you are also betting with enough money to lose that much that fast. To win that much you need to be betting 1000 dollars a hand when the count is in your favor (and likely be playing three hands at once).
  3. While Alan is watching the cards, calculus and algebra are floating around his head.  Do you have to know really complicated math to count cards?  Nope.  You don’t have to know high level math.  In fact, you really just need to know how to add, subtract, and divide.  I always tell people you don’t have to be incredibly smart to count cards.  You just have to be averagely smart and incredibly self-disciplined.
  4. Can you count cards after reading one book?  Well, not really.  Counting cards takes a special learned set of skills that takes weeks to get used to.  You will have to practice, practice, practice.  It only takes one book, or an hour or so in our video course to learn how to count cards, but it takes weeks and sometimes months to actually be able to do it for real.


Join our membership and learn not only how to count cards like a pro, but how you should practice to get there.

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